As society has just experienced on a massive scale, anxiety about loss of income is very damaging. Everyone can see the loss in economic terms, but at a deeper level something invisible is at work. People’s sense of abundance and fulfillment is undermined. When we worry about not having enough, we immediately think in terms of money, but what about a lack of emotional fulfillment, a lack of love, lack of creative solutions? Abundance needs to prevail in those areas first and foremost.
The most crucial thing to understand is that abundance begins in your awareness. Look at the by now familiar story of lottery winners who are worse off ten years after their sudden windfall. Why? Because they couldn’t adapt. They were used to processing their lives on a limited scale, and suddenly they were asked to process millions of dollars, massive attention, public exposure, and the demands of people all around them.
Unless you are prepared to adapt, abundance itself can turn into a burden on you. The secret is to constantly build an attitude of abundance in small steps leading to a big goal: a sense of self that can accept higher and higher levels of opportunity. Here are seven steps you can build on:
Take one thing today that you feel negative about. Before the day is out, take one positive action that diminishes the negativity. Such actions include the following: Stand up for yourself, speak your truth, fix what can be fixed, ask for help, seek wise advice, walk away from things that can’t be fixed, reduce the stress, look at your role in creating the negative situation. But the possibilities are endless. Taking even a small action begins to change the feedback you’re getting.
In difficult situations, people tend to contract and withdraw inside themselves. “It’s my problem” leads to isolation, which makes lack and loss feel worse. I realize that no one wants to be a burden on others, and that everyone wants to preserve their dignity. But other people have confronted lack and loss, survived the pain, and eventually made it all the way through. It helps enormously to be in touch with such a person who has walked in your dealt with your situation before and come through it.
“It’s hopeless. I’m helpless. Nothing will change or ever get better.” We’ve all heard these words; the voice of futility persists because we were all once little children who felt helpless and hopeless at times. If you indulge the voice of futility, it will pull you down to its level. So reject the temptation to indulge in a defeatist viewpoint (if you are depressed, which is a serious mental condition, seek professional help). Tell yourself, “This negative voice isn’t the real me.” Gently and clearly identify the voice of futility for what it is, and when any good thing happens, however small, remind yourself that the voice of futility was wrong.
The greatest enemy of abundance is contraction. When you find yourself in a tight situation, feeling that there is no way out, drawing a blank when you try to think of new solutions, or carrying around a heavy burden, these are signs of contraction, in mind, body, and spirit. Expansion is the great friend of abundance. It brings in the light, opening up and revealing new possibilities. In a relaxed, open state, your awareness sees farther and life isn’t so confined.
How can you expand your awareness? To begin with, set aside time every day for peace and quiet. The brain has a natural mechanism for resetting itself and getting back into balance. Give this mechanism a chance. Being under pressure, putting up with noise and stress, and never stopping to relax are counter-productive. Go into a quiet place and sit with your eyes closed at least two times a day, for a few minutes. Let yourself become centered again, and if you can, practice meditation.
If you want a radical cure for powerlessness, for feeling a victim, take full responsibility for your life. Victims believe they are dominated by external forces—other people, circumstances—and since outside forces cannot be controlled, it seems natural to give up responsibility for the challenging situations in your life. “I can’t help it” is like a poison seed that keeps multiplying and growing. The solution is to recognize that situations change only after a person quits looking outside and starts taking responsibility.
In effect, you are saying something positive: This is my life. You reclaim ownership of your life once you take responsibility. At the same time, you are stating a simple, inescapable truth. If your life isn’t your own, who else can it belong to? No one else has enough time, money, energy, and love to give you everything. Abundance comes from within. When you take responsibility, you accept everything, the good and the bad, as your whole package.
There is such a thing as being rich but miserable – we all know people who fit that pattern – but there is no such thing as being fulfilled and miserable. Material abundance, which can be useful, contains no fulfillment by itself. Fulfillment comes from a vision that comes true. The higher the vision, the greater the fulfillment.
In effect, vision acts like a trigger for abundance. It sets in motion a host of hidden processes, because awareness builds upon itself, as you probably have already experienced. If you practice something over and over, you get good at it. If you reinforce the positive perspective, there is more positivity to come. This is the ideal kind of feedback loop that can apply to everything you dream of, wish for, and envision. But it requires focus. While you are learning to ride a bike, you don’t want to be eating a sandwich and texting a friend at the same time. Riding the bike is your focused intention. Apply this same concentration to your vision.
But what kind of higher vision should you choose? Some principles are common to all higher visions, and they can be simply stated: I will be good and honest; I will be sincere; I will hold to my truth; I will aim to love and be loved as best I can; I will add to everyone’s life, not simply my own; I will do no harm; I renounce violence; I will revere the things I believe in the most.
As for getting down to specifics, look at the people you most admire. Write down a list of heroes and heroines that inspire you, either from real life or fiction. Read biographies. Delve into scriptures and inspirational literature from the world’s wisdom traditions. As you expand your search, you won’t get more confused. Instead, you will find that certain elements ring true with you, over and over. Maybe it’s the element of service or devotion or giving or creativity. As you incorporate it into your thinking, your own vision will be clarified in your mind. This germinal stage is important, so don’t hasten it or become impatient. The vision you select is actually selecting you.
It’s strange to realize that abundance starts small. Doesn’t that contradict what the word “abundance” means? It suggests a bumper crop, a flow of good things, and unlimited supply. Those are all applicable, but you can’t assume that abundance happens all at once, like a thunderstorm quenching a parched land. The process is more like attaining a skill. If you want to master walking a tightrope, you start small and low down, not big and high up. This actually insures that you will steadily proceed to your goal.
So don’t set yourself up for failure by short-circuiting the process. A lot of things, including the wiring in your brain, must become organized around your goal. Every wish brings a result. The world’s wisdom traditions teach this lesson. But they also teach that results can be tiny, or mixed, or hidden from view because our awareness is limited and distracted. It helps to know that the process will never let you down – your every thought and intention becomes part of the feedback loop.
Be focused and consistent. Notice every step forward, and take advantage of each small success. In this way you close the gap between what you want from life and what it is giving you. At the same time, trusting the process also means not straining or adding to your stress. We are all programmed to fear the unknown, and yet every good thing in life emerges from the unknown.
In the end, the gap that separates lack from abundance is self-created. Abundance, however, comes down to connecting with a natural part of life. It is lack and loss that are unnatural. Life is a field of infinite possibilities. The unknown isn’t filled with just a few good things; the possibilities are unending. Try and make the connection, then. You have the ability. Creating your own reality is the richest gift you received at birth. Abundance is a wellspring for you to tap inside, and the process of getting there actually works.
Reprinted form San Francisco Chronicle with permission
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