From Panic to Calm about Money and Work

How Can You Turn Panic and Fear
Into Calm and Effective Money Response?

The futility of panic as a financial strategy should be pretty obvious from the economic news since at least summer of 2008. Panic in the stock market breeds panic in the job market and the credit market and in the minds and hearts of the people everywhere, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Through a body-based therapy called bioenergetics, I learned years ago how the body typically acts in panic. The chest collapses. Eyes close, and intuition or inner sight is shut down. Arms flail helplessly, leading to exhaustion. Or they dangle uselessly, putting out the message, “I am helpless. Someone must rescue me.”

Act with panic while swimming, and your odds of drowning increase. Plus, you make it very dangerous for someone to help you. When a society acts with panic to security threats (like real or feared terrorist attacks) or the current economic situation, the result can be a plethora of expensive (sometimes even deadly) acts based on wrong or insufficient information.

Denial of fear or emergencies doesn’t work, either. During many earlier times when I faced hard economic challenges, I discovered that it’s a lot easier to deal with a problem if I open my eyes and face it, and if I scream out my fear into a pillow instead of trying to whistle that fear away with a happy tune.

Fortunately, there are lots of great models for dealing effectively with emergencies without panic.

Ever been severely injured and suddenly you’re surrounded by compassionate, skilled people, all focused on helping you get through your emergency? Ever been stuck away from home due to a disaster like a fire or earthquake, and here comes a hastily organized emergency transportation system to get you home? Ever been very hungry or thirsty due to that disaster when here comes the Salvation Army with a ham sandwich, two cookies and some fruit punch?

History is full of great models for crisis response. In World War II, when the British navy was trapped in Dunkirk, ordinary citizens created a flotilla of boats large and small to bring the boys home safely. When England was bombed night after night, people in bomb shelters kept their spirits alive by staying truly English, like being fully present to each other over tea served in proper cups atop an oil drum, or a game of darts, or hanging out with each other atop uncomfortable-looking bunks.

If you got creative, what kind of calm response could you find to your financial emergencies? What wisdom might you discover for the economy we all share?

E.g., what’s your equivalent to emergency room triage?

What essential elements of your character and culture can inspirit you through an extended hard time?

What’s your equivalent of Dunkirk, and how are you called to help create financial stability for yourself and/or the larger community?

Here are some examples of how to turn panic into a calmer state that supports clear reflection and wise decisions:

  • Affirm that no matter how dire the economic situation is right now, somehow, some time, you’ll get through it.
  • Walk or swim to clear your head and energize your body, unleash at least a spark of creativity and confidence, and re-energize your whole being.
  • Breathe and deal with whatever feelings emerge, especially grief about the loss of retirement funds or the camaraderie that used to exist with colleagues on the job you and/or they no longer have.
  • Pray, not like the kid asking God or Obama or Congress to fix it for you, but in a way that engages you with your source (more about this in a future post).

Consider these thoughts as you repeat the original assignment (see About the Challenge at the top right of this page). As always, bless your journey of healing and growing your relationship with money. Here’s a blessing to use or edit:

Whatever challenge I face now, may I rediscover my gratitude in simply being alive. May I remember that I come from sturdy stock, and as a member of the human race, I am kin to many experts in turning challenges into opportunities. May all my eyes be open to how I can meet my needs at this time, while also serving others.

Come back real soon with your own insights and inspiration,
Pat McHenry Sullivan