Times are tough. Many people are struggling as individuals, families, and communities. We are, individually and collectively, in the middle of a national crisis, and it’s easy to get discouraged with the abundance of sobering news.
On the other hand, a crisis offers an opportunity to see the world differently. That’s because a crisis shakes up our world—our routines, choices and relationships change. During a crisis, we have the chance to pause, reflect and consider what matters most to us. We have the chance to shift our attention from the “urgent” to the truly important things in life. Ultimately, we have the opportunity to connect with our inner wisdom through four specific actions:
1. Take Time to Pause
We all need time to pause if we are going to learn and grow from this crisis. When we pause, our inner wisdom has the chance to emerge, illuminating the way forward toward a more meaningful and joyful life. When we pause, we create the possibility of being the best, most authentic version of ourselves. We pause when we slow down and just let ourselves be. We pause when we:
- Take quiet walks in nature or around the block
- Meditate or pray
- Sit quietly on the porch
- Read something that fills our soul
- Observe a Sabbath where we disconnect from work for 24 hours
- Take a vacation where we completely disconnect from the office for a week or two
Pausing is not easy. We live in a 24/7 culture that values activity—where resting is almost considered a sign of weakness. However, without taking time to get in touch with ourselves, we run the real risk of losing touch with our values, wants and passions. We often end up lost and confused, sprinting toward someone else’s definition of the good life and wondering where we got off course.
2. Cultivate Compassion for Others
Compassion, a combination of truth and empathy, allows us to see the world around us with greater clarity—to see the world from a more realistic perspective. It requires us to pay attention to proven facts and to be honest about our perceptions and feelings. Empathy reduces our human pull to judge others quickly and harshly.
When we are in a judgmental space, we blind ourselves to seeing the full picture; we don’t see the extenuating circumstances that impact the person we are judging. When we make decisions from a place of clarity and realism, the decisions tend to be better.
Plus, compassion is contagious. When we see others with compassionate eyes, they often reciprocate, creating a safe space for all involved. The creation of a safe space is the doorway to a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Why? Because we self-discover as we self-disclose, and we will only self-disclose if we feel safe and supported.
3. Cultivate Self-Compassion
Your critical voice is that inner judgmental voice that is harsh, attacking, and often persistent. Has your critical voice been in rare form during the pandemic? Attacking you for not being good enough at your job, with your spouse and kids, or as a member of your community? Attacking you for not being more productive at home and at work?
The critical voice is not your friend, particularly when you are trying to focus on what matters most to you. Self-attack is never a winning strategy; it leaves us feeling demotivated and discouraged. Self-compassion is the antidote to self-attack, allowing us to see our own faults and challenges without all that self-loathing. It opens the door to taking small steps to changes that support our values and desires.
Take some time to review information from social psychologists about learning self-compassion. Once you get a handle on that, you can begin discovering ways to grow your self-compassion.
4. Determine What Matters Most to You & Focus on It
When your world is shaken, you have an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes our new perspective provides new strength to our values, wants and desires—affirming that we are pursuing the right path for us. Sometimes, however, our new perspective is jarring: What used to be vitally important now seems less so, and we are motivated to move boldly in a new direction.
If you are feeling confused about what is next for you, we can help. Our signature Life Priorities exercise is a wonderful first step in helping you identify what matters most to you, and our Future Self Visualization exercise can help you figure out where you want to be and what you want to do over the next few years.
It can be difficult to figure out what matters most and where to focus our time in the middle of a storm, whether it’s making financial changes or personal reflections. Your advisor can help you sort through all of the factors impacting your situation and develop a plan to move toward your goals.
Stay healthy and stay strong.
CFP® David joined Wealth Enhancement Group through the partnership with JOYN Advisors, where he acted as CEO and Co-Founder. He is the creator of the Behavioral Wealth Management™ model. A model that focuses on aligning wealth management with the integration of human emotions while taking into consideration an individual’s talents, wisdom, network and relationships. David has been featured in a number of prominent outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The...Read More