As my teacher and mentor, Tony Robbins, says, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” And right now, too many people are suffering.
As I’ve said in previous posts, none of what’s happening in the world today around the novel coronavirus Covid-19 is your fault. It’s not mine either. However, it is our responsibility to decide what we’re going to do about it, how we’re going to move forward in the current and future economic climate. There’s undoubtedly a certain amount of pain that you may be feeling as a business owner trying to navigate forced closures and physical distancing mandates that are creating a sizeable dip in consumer confidence. As business owners, however, we just don’t get to wallow in being the victim of our current circumstances. That victimization causes suffering. And that, my friend, is a choice that’s not worth making.
So many times people find themselves stuck in learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. When someone is stuck in learned helplessness, they believe that whatever is happening in this moment is permanent. Perhaps you’ve had moments where you thought that our current situation is the way it’s going to be going forward…the “new normal,” as it where. And you think there’s no way you can scale your business in this climate.
Well, if you look back over your life or over the course of our history you’ll see that nothing is permanent. You’ll also see that whatever you give your focus and attention to is what grows. So if you focus on what’s wrong right now, on what you can’t control, on looking for someone to blame, then you’ll just get more of that: what’s wrong and what’s beyond your control, and you’ll waste a whole lot of energy looking for someone else to blame.
Learned helplessness also comes from believing that what’s going on is pervasive, that it’s affecting every area of your life: your physical health, your mental health, your relationships, your business, and your finances. And we tend to have very active imaginations that love to create stories that weave together all sorts of unrelated things in the attempt to create an overarching narrative of doom and gloom.
The key to revealing that this story is a lie is gratitude. Begin to list all of the things that you’re grateful for in each of these areas of your life and you’ll soon see that an isolated event like Covid-19 is not negatively affecting every single area of your life. At least not unless that’s what you’re looking for.
Lastly, learned helplessness is accompanied by a belief that takes things very personally. So many people feel as though they are the victim of circumstances and that they have somehow been singled out, cursed, punished for some strange reason. And though everyone is being affected in some way by the government’s reaction to Covid-19, some people truly believe that their situation is somehow different and that they are worse off than anyone else.
For many people, victimization is a habit or a pattern that they’ve developed. It gives them a sense of certainty, even though it’s painful and they claim they don’t want to be victims. “You just don’t understand. This always happens to me. I just can’t catch a break. I can’t get ahead. I’m doomed no matter what I do.” Breaking this pattern, paying close to attention to the words we use, and realizing that the words we attach to our experience BECOME our experience are key to annihilating our belief that we are victims.
So what do we do? We begin by getting ourselves into a state of gratitude as often as possible. By watching the words we use and finding creative and playful ways to interrupt our negative patterns. By creating a new, more empowering identity to step into. By surrounding ourselves with people who support our growth and see our potential. By reading, listening to, watching and following people who are living lives we admire and having the successes we want for ourselves. By contributing in some way to others. And by taking MASSIVE ACTION…even if we don’t feel like it! There’s nothing like taking action to get us to change.
It’s easier to act our way into a feeling than to feel our way into action. Let that really sink in for a moment. Haven’t you ever had to do something you really didn’t want to do, something you really weren’t into, but you did it anyway only to find yourself actually feeling really good as you got into action? Maybe you had a grueling task to tackle around the house that you’d been avoiding that you actually found a way to enjoy after you got started. Maybe you got invited to a party that you didn’t really feel like attending only to find yourself actually having fun once you got there. Get into action and you just might find that you do feel like taking even more action. You just might build some momentum and even want to keep going. And because momentum compounds, you just might find yourself changing…for good.
So if you can’t, you must. Your future self is counting on you. Step up and step into your potential. The world needs people of action. The world needs YOU!