In our world full of upheaval and uncertainty, we all can feel insecure at times. If our insecurities linger, sooner or later they can start us on a never-ending downward spiral of fear and desperate behavior. How can we look past all of life’s negatives to embrace the positive? As a financial strategist and abundant living coach for more than forty years, I’ve learned that hope — seeing a better tomorrow when today is not so great — is absolutely critical. Abundant living begins with abundant thinking, so let’s look at how we can conquer fear from life’s challenges and build confidence and hope.
First, stop and think a moment about your life. Like me, you’ve probably dealt with your share of crisis, deadlines, disappointments, and offenses. These experiences and emotions are real and happen to all of us. My wife and I once had a conversation about the emotions we feel when we go through a tough or stressful time. We were analyzing all those negative, poignant moments when we feel anger, anxiety, or even a desire for retaliation. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. The best antidote to deal with negative emotions is nothing new. It’s been in the Christian bible for millennia, but the teachings are definitely not unique to that one religion. The best antidote to challenges is faith, hope and charity.
In our professions, most of us face critical deadlines from time to time. It could be an assignment from the boss, a licensing exam, a client project, or a manufacturing deadline. At these stressful moments, or any number of other negative emotions, we have a choice. Either we choose to be upset and uptight — which usually impacts how we treat our employees or families — or we choose to look at that deadline as a lifeline.
With me, for example, I’ve sometimes faced a looming cutoff for a book manuscript. Nothing quite like the pressure of a Time Warner mega-dollar advance to get the adrenaline pumping. Now it would be easy for me at times like this to think, “I’m in writers’ prison! I’m 300 pages behind. There are so many other things I should be doing. What if I don’t make the deadline? What if ….”
Or, I could think, “Wow, how lucky I am to have that deadline. When this book is released I’ll be able to reach more people and help them live a more abundant life. I won’t stop until I’ve hit that deadline, because for many people this may be the beginning of a new future.”
See the difference? One line of thinking is dread, and the other is hope. One is anxiety, and the other is positive energy. The hope allows us to view otherwise stressful times as opportunities to expand our skills, to accomplish something new, or to come through for others.
What about getting offended? None of us gets far in life without someone saying or doing something to us that is insensitive, hurtful or just plain awful. Typically, our response to offense is either to fight back, retaliate or completely withdraw from that person or experience. But what if we chose a different path?
Once I went to the funeral of a woman of whom it was said (in the program handout) that “she was never offended, because she never took offense.” Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds upon the heel that crushed it.” And an old German saying goes like this: “You can choose to be upset, but you’re not obligated to be.”
It’s all in how we choose to react — and the key there is charity. I’m convinced 90 percent of people who offend us didn’t mean to do it; we just took offense. And is the act of offending hurting the guilty party? Probably not. It’s hurting us — the injured party!
Now you may be thinking, what about the 10 percent who really do want to offend us? We could say to ourselves, “If the person who said or did that (insensitive thing) simply understood where I was coming from at the time, they might not have judged me like that.” That’s often the case. So let it go. Funny, the purposeful offender will probably be more upset when we exercise charity and don’t get offended. But that’s their problem!
Of course, there are times when we face serious crises, setbacks and challenges. We may be diagnosed with an illness, wreck our car, get laid off from our job, or lose something or someone we hold dear. These moments of crisis usually lead to our becoming downhearted, upset or even depressed … but we’re not obligated to be!
This is not to downplay a crisis as something less than extremely difficult to get through. But if we exercise faith, the fear will be dispelled, because those two opposite emotions — faith and fear — cannot occupy the human heart simultaneously. Anytime I feel fearful, it’s a signal I’m not exercising faith.
So, I teach my children and grandchildren to conquer fear with faith. Faith puts us in motion, and motion helps us find answers to our problems.
As we’ve shown, the three basic antidotes to deal with negative emotions — faith, hope and charity — can be a powerful recipe for overcoming hard times and finding certainty in an uncertain world. We’ll never be immune from crisis. Never be able to avoid completely the deadlines, challenges and offenses that come our way. But we can change the way we approach them. We can learn from them, and in the process, we can lift others to higher ground. That’s a life of abundance — one that is well worth living!
Want to know more about how to live an abundant life? Click here to get a copy of my newest book, “Entitlement Abolition” for FREE (just pay shipping). Learn how to lead your family and your legacy from “me” to “we.”