The Salem Witch Trials

I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. The belief that witchcraft was behind unexplained fits of young girls resulted in accusations of witchcraft being thrown in every direction is quite intriguing. I would love to know what “caused” those symptoms the girls displayed. The bigger question, however, is . . . Why did accusations of witchery become popular in 1692?

 

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

 

Looking back at what is known about the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials, we find young girls behaving in an unusual manner. Not knowing what caused the behavior, it was believed that the girls were possessed by the devil. They then accused three women of being witches and bringing this upon them. Thus, the first case of witchery came to trial.

 

Oddly, there were other girls that soon exhibited the same symptoms. Hence more cases. Still, more and more accusations abounded in Salem and other areas more distant. By May of that year, there were so many cases that a special court was appointed to handle them.

 

Even upstanding members of the community were accused and found guilty of being witches. Rebecca Nurse, a possible distant relative of mine, was one of those people. In her case, they found her not guilty, then guilty, then she received a reprieve, and finally she was hung. She was 71 and was supported by a large number of people in the community. Yet, it didn’t save her.

 

In most cases, however, men and women were found guilty based solely on the accusation. None of them were allowed to have lawyers and had a difficult time defending themselves. Have you ever tried proving that you aren’t a witch?

 

The question was . . . Why were so many people so willing to believe that members of the community were witches? Speculation includes that the people funneled their fear of outsiders and other fears into the witchcraft hysteria.

 

The hysteria quickly wound down and dissipated in 1693. Many of the convicted witches were later fully exonerated. Unfortunately, it was too late for those who were hung or died in prison.

 

McCarthyism

 

In 1953, Arthur Miller brought the Salem Witch Trials to life in his play “The Crucible.” He was driven to write the play because of current events. At the time, Senator Joseph McCarthy used “witch hunts” in the name of stopping the spread of communism.

 

McCarthy was a fearmonger, constantly stirring the fear of Communism, which was very pervasive in the 1950s. The fear was so strong that many people were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers. Many of them lost their jobs or were blacklisted despite not belonging to the Communist Party. Others were afraid to object for fear that they, too, would be given the badge of communist.

 

Those accused were investigated or questioned before panels. Like the Salem Witch Trials, accusations were often accepted even when there was a lack of evidence. Likewise, the risk the person posed to the country was often elevated. Still, the damage was done although many decisions would later be reversed or determined to be illegal.

 

Repeating The Past

 

It is 2020 and despite the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing due process we are again repeating the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials have been modernized, but they still have the same principle of guilt by accusation.

 

In today’s world, you aren’t likely to be hung after an unfair trial where you have to defend yourself. Instead you are “cancelled” by a decision of the Internet mob. In cancel culture, you aren’t given a chance to defend yourself at all. The Internet mob decides what is right and what is wrong. You can be found guilty by association. Worse yet, you can be found guilty for not publicly taking a stance on an issue at all.

 

It seems that like in 1692, fear has driven the world a bit mad. Today it isn’t a fear of witches or communism that is behind the accusations. Yet, it remains a fear based on people being different and having different perspectives.

 

The Tech Giants and the mob rule simply do not allow for free thought and conversation. They have decided to take the law into their own hands and change all the rules. One and only one opinion is allowed in the social media court. Wish to explain yourself or even to apologize and you just may find yourself banned from the platform.

 

If you think it is only people with extremist viewpoints that are banned, I suggest you do more research. Like Rebecca Nurse, who was an upstanding citizen respected by many, you may be accused if you don’t parrot “the stance” perfectly.

 

What We Can Learn?

 

So, what can we learn from our current situation? First, history does repeat itself unless you learn from it. Clearly, we have not yet learned this lesson.

 

Second, there are many dimensions to being different. Anytime someone is condemned simply because they are different it is wrong.

 

Third, judging without a fair trial or worse without any facts is a disgrace. And, it means that a majority of the time you will be wrong.

 

And, fourth, fear can drive people to act a little crazy. As discussed in our recent article “Why Fear,” Franklin D. Roosevelt was correct when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

 

The bottom line is that we need to learn to accept people who are different – no matter what that difference may be. They may look different, act different, express their feelings in a different way, have different religious beliefs, have different political beliefs, raise their family in a different way, etc.

 

This sentiment was echoed on a Little House on the Prairie rerun as I was writing this article. Laura was pleading with the people of Walnut Grove to stop a woman who was considered odd from leaving town. Laura said, “So what if she was different? We’re all different!”

 

Walk In Your Shoes

You are likely familiar with phrases that include “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Generally, that phrase is used to indicate that you don’t understand someone else’s situation until you have lived their life or at least understood their circumstances. It is very valuable to consider someone else’s situation before you judge them. Likewise, it is also important to walk in your own shoes.

 

Define Your Shoes

 

To walk in your own shoes, you first need to consider who you really are. What are your true experiences and beliefs? What are your goals? Your dreams?

 

This is a process of learning who you personally are without influence of the “shoulds” of the world. For example, if you dream of being a teacher, embrace that even if your parents or spouse think you would make a better lawyer than teacher.

 

After you define who you are, you can consider any information that you have gathered from trusted outside influences. Then, determine if you can glean any facts from the information that may be important as you move forward. If so, tweak your goals and dreams accordingly. It is important, however, not to lose focus of your true self. Likewise, don’t let educational and financial requirements for realizing your dream or reaching your goals determine those dreams. Always focus first on who you really are. You can focus later on how to get there!

 

Natural Feelings

 

Additionally, it is important that you feel your own feelings. If something makes you angry or sad, that is natural. What is not natural is to feel angry or sad because you are told that is the way you should feel. Feeling how you are told to feel instead of feeling how you truly feel is not being authentic.

 

Pressure

 

You always have influences within your personal circles. Friends and family often feel they know what you “should” do or how you “should” feel. In recent years this has been escalating within the media and groups outside people’s personal circles. More and more it is as if you don’t have a choice as to the actions you take or how you feel about a given situation. It has risen to the point that you can’t even be quiet and keep your perception to yourself as other people and groups will interpret a meaning from your silence.

 

Walk In Your Own Shoes

 

To truly walk in your own shoes, you must be authentic to yourself and ignore these outside influences. To do this, take in information, consider it thoughtfully, and decide how you feel about it. Then express your feeling or don’t based on what you desire.

 

Giving in to people who attempt to guilt you into feeling a certain way or taking a specific action is no different than giving the grade school bully your lunch money. Instead of folding, you must stand tall. Look them in the eye and take a step forward in life.

 

Only take those actions and feel feelings that are authentic to your beliefs and life experiences. When you cower to the influence of others, you lose your power. And, you lose who you really are.

 

Need help taking that first step, contact us and learn how Imagine If Coaching and Consulting can help you on your journey!

 

Unique Perspective

In the first two articles in the Misconnection series, we explored misconnections that are created because of the illusion of a connection and as a result of our survival instincts. In this segment, we will discuss how our culture, experiences, beliefs, and values that make up each person’s unique perspective add to each person’s connections and misconnections.

 

Unique Perspective

 

Each person has a unique perspective that belongs to them and only them. The person’s  environment and culture in which they live combined with their experiences, underlying beliefs, and values create this perspective. All of these things come together and create a filter through which every piece of information they receive flows.

 

Thus, people never evaluate unfiltered information. By the time they consider the information, their filter has already tainted the information. Thus, people can have different perspectives on something as simple as a rock in the middle of a sidewalk.

 

A person who has had kids playing in their rocks repeatedly may assume a kid put the rock in the middle of the sidewalk because they had been playing there. Someone else may be angry because they assume someone put it there so that someone would trip on it. A person with a different experience, may assume it was kicked up off the street by a car. Meanwhile, the facts may be that someone accidentally kicked it there and didn’t realize it.

 

World Situation

 

People’s filters are very obvious in their perspectives on the current world situation. Some people believe that everyone should do as the authorities tell us. Meanwhile, other people feel that authorities have overstepped their bounds and have no right to tell people not to open their business, go to church, or hike in their favorite park. Yet, other people may feel frustrated because theybelieve the entire situation is overblown.  In their mind,  the measures are being taken are without merit.

 

In all these cases, each unique perspective arises from the person’s current experience, previous experiences, beliefs, values, and culture. For instance, a person who lives in an area where no cases of COVID-19 have been reported will not likely see the virus as a big threat.  However, a person who lives in New York City, where their have been many cases, likely feels more threatened by the virus.

 

Likewise, someone who has grown up working hard for every dollar and still finding it difficult to get ahead will have a different opinion that someone who was born rich. And, different factors influence the opinion of retirees.

 

The number of factors that go into a person’s filters that drive their perspective of a situation are endless. It would be impossible to explore all of them. So, let’s take a look at a subset of the factors relating to whether a person should wear a mask.

 

To Mask

 

People hold a variety of  perspectives on whether people should wear a mask when in public. Some people simply believe everyone should follow the rules. In their opinion, since the authorities stated that masks are necessary, they are necessary. This belief may come from their local culture, family values, or religious upbringing.

 

Other people have different reasons for  believing that people should wear masks. Perhaps they are particularly nervous about themselves or a loved one getting sick. Others may have lost a loved one to COVID-19 or a similar disease. Still, others may have anxiety that has heightened due to the virus.

 

Or Not To Mask

 

Like people who feel a mask is necessary, those that desire not to wear a mask do so for many reasons. Often these people do not personally know anyone who has gotten COVID-19. Alternately, they have known many people with mild cases. They also may see getting the virus as unavoidable and wish to get it over with sooner rather than later.

 

The decision not to mask may also relate to cultural norms. Some cultures may frown upon face coverings. Alternately, people may believe face coverings  have a particular meaning. For instance, a person might hesitate to wear a face covering if they grew up being told that was an indication of criminal behavior.

 

There are other very different reasons that people don’t wear masks. The person may have PTSD, claustrophobia, or have a breathing disorder. The person may also have impaired hearing making it difficult to communicate when other people are wearing masks. All of these may present in a person without it being obvious to other people.

 

Misconnections

 

Misconnections arise when people believe everyone should make the same decision they made. I know people who have been on the receiving end of a tirade because they were wearing a mask. One might ask, “Why do you care?” Well, it is hard to determine why they care without a direct conversation. However, it is likely that the person is judging the other person based on their filters.

 

On the flip side, it is common to observe people yelling at a person for not wearing a mask. You might argue that the person has a right to be upset and that they have the good of themselves and others in mind. However, it is important to remember that they don’t know the other person’s situation, history, or experiences.

 

In both cases, the person doing the yelling is judging the other person based on their own rules. Thus, it is very possible that they are creating misconnections about the other person. They may believe the other person is uneducated, uncaring, or out of touch. However, both may be educated and caring. They just have different filters they apply in processing the information they receive.

 

Up next, our concluding article in the Misconnection series. . . We will discuss retraining the brain to make more good connections and less misconnections.

 

focus your energy on what is most important

Life is busy and it may have been some time since you have asked yourself where you regularly focus your energy. Perhaps, this is a question that you have never asked yourself. Still, it is a very important question, especially in light of the current world situation.

 

The World Situation

 

You may be focused solely on getting through the coming weeks as we live through the most significant pandemic of our lifetimes. It is natural to flip into survival mode when your way of life is threatened.

 

It is normal to be concerned about health, loved ones, jobs, finances, food, and even toilet paper. However, there has to be prioritization and the appropriate level of concern. Toilet paper is not nearly as important as having a roof over your head and being healthy. It is definitely not something that requires you to buy every package you can find.

 

Maintaining Balance

 

Balance is critical. It will be much easier to take a balanced approach to life if you limit your focus on COVID-19 information. It is important to stay up to date on the government rules, but too much news is not healthy.

 

If you find yourself listening to lots of news commentary or you are constantly checking the coronavirus numbers (and you aren’t a government or medical statistician), you may be focusing too much on the current situation.

 

It is especially unhealthy to listen to the “political” views of the situation, which are not meant to inform anyone of facts, but are intended to stir your emotions and influence your political opinions. Anger and negativity are the last things you need in your life right now, as love and calmness are the feelings that lead us through the situation.

 

If you feel that you are really drawn to what is happening, look for volunteer opportunities to help others during this time. Alternately, focus on self-care, learning new skills, or activities that you enjoy.

 

Medical Workers

 

Now, if you are a medical worker, it may be impossible to maintain balance in the short-term as your focus is on your work. This is understandable as you are working long hours and focusing on saving lives. It is important to relax and meditate as best you can. Once things slow down, you need to make sure and take time for yourself to heal, not from the virus, but from the stress.

 

Front Line Workers

 

Similarly, if you are a front line worker, you may be feeling a lot of stress as you work to maintain your health while coming in contact with the public. It is key not to worry about your situation. Instead, take the actions (e.g. masks, hand washing) that you can take to maintain your health.

 

No matter what your situation is, it is important to choose action over worry. Even if you are temporarily out of work, there are actions that you can take. Start by checking into unemployment, looking for temporary work, and checking into government programs. You may also consider free online training that will help you enhance your job opportunities in the future.

 

Action Over Worry

 

No cases exist where worry or complaining to a friend will add value to your life. Granted, you may need to unload occasionally. That is fine. However, if worry and complaint are the topic of every conversation, there are better areas of focus. Instead, engage your friends and/or family in brainstorming options, research possibilities, and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who may be able to assist you.

 

Acting won’t completely eliminate worry, but it will lessen it and you may even find a solution!

 

Self-Care

 

Most people don’t get enough self-care under normal circumstances. Given the current situation, everyone needs extra self-care. You may want to consider what you have done for yourself lately. You may want to read, spend some time on a hobby, or have an energy treatment. Focusing on one’s self is critical in order to keep a high vibration and stay healthy.

 

A focus on self-care allows you to be able to focus on, care for, and support your family, friends, and community.

 

Your Focus

 

Survey the last two weeks and determine where your focus has been. Have you had any focus on caring for yourself? Has your focus been primarily positive? Do you have plans to focus on positive things in the coming weeks?

 

The answers to these questions are more important than ever given the current world situation. Be very cautious on selecting where you focus your energy since what you focus on is often pulled into your life. Thus, a focus on love of self, family, friends, and community will pull more love and joy into your life.

 

 

 

disconnected

Today many people are struggling with being home away from family and friends. Yet, being disconnected can provide opportunities.

 

Growing Up In A Disconnected World

 

I grew up in a relatively disconnected world. We lived in a rural area with our closest neighbors a quarter of a mile away, but most much farther. On top of that, my mom didn’t drive. Therefore, until I got my driver’s license we usually didn’t go anywhere unless we could bike there or dad was home.

 

A tiny grocery existed about 4 miles away. However, most grocery shopping was done “in town” 15 miles away. Thus, grocery shopping was a once a week task. On very rare occasions, dad would stop to pick up milk, bread, or another necessity on his way home. However, generally we cooked whatever we had and I learned to improvise.

 

We did have a telephone, but we mostly made local calls because talking long-distance was expensive. So, we stayed mostly to ourselves outside of school and seeing family from time to time.

 

Being disconnected, I learned how to entertain myself, read for hours and hours, learned how to make cookies out of nothing at all, and learned to enjoy solitude. I would likely not have focused in these areas if we were always on the go.

 

Today’s Situation

 

Today, despite staying home, we are still very connected to people through electronics. However, many people are more disconnected than they have ever been in their life. Such a change can be challenging.

 

Finding Yourself

 

In recent years, you may have found it difficult to get away or to say, “No” to social engagements. Now, you have the perfect opportunity to find yourself, pamper yourself, discover what you love, or spend time with your family.

 

Have you sat back lately and asked yourself, “Who am I?” It is an interesting question. You may identify yourself as a parent, a spouse, a teacher, or a dedicated member of your church.

 

Still, who are you really? Look deep inside and consider the things that are most important to you. Perhaps there are dreams that you have put on hold or core values that you compromised along your journey.

 

Now, you have a chance to focus on those things that are important to you. Spend time with yourself, get reacquainted, and create a new path forward.

 

Discover What You Love

 

Consider what you truly love. Perhaps your journey has taken twists and turns to the point that you no longer love the things you once did. Alternately, that dream may still be waiting for you.

 

Focus some time on your hobbies. Investigate something that you have been meaning to try for some time. Or, try several random things and see if something speaks to you.

 

Pamper Yourself

 

While focusing on rediscovering yourself, also pamper yourself. Pampering can take many forms. Go outside, exercise, and enjoy the sunshine. Also, take time to make healthy meals from scratch and get some extra sleep. Plus, make sure to include an indulgence or two.

 

Connect With Your Family

 

During this disconnected time, you also have an opportunity to reconnect with your family in new and stronger ways. If they live with you, you can share in the self and family discovery together.

 

If your family is at a distance, you can still strengthen your connection. Extra phone calls to check in on them not only helps them, but can also enhance your relationship. Consider video calls and activities if practical.

 

For instance, we discovered that we really enjoy having game night with the kids via video. The crazy thing is that despite having them at a distance for years, we had never developed a habit of connecting via video or doing regular activities together. Now, I hope we keep it as a regular family gathering.

 

Disconnected – The Opportunity

 

So, instead of seeing this time in a negative light, look for the opportunities. Disconnected can feel good!

 

Recent related articles:

 

letting go to connect

It might seem counter-intuitive to say that you need to let go of things in order to better connect. Yet, letting go is often the first step in being fully present and completely connected in a situation.

 

Connecting To The Present

 

To be a success in your job, relationship, or any other thing you choose, you must connect to the present. Your focus must on the “here and now” instead of “what could be” or “what might have been.”

 

For example, you will only succeed in your job if you focus on the job that you have today. If you focus on your dream job or the job that got away, you will not do as good of a job. Additionally, you will likely be unhappy. Now, if you focus on your current job and do a great job, another job may await you that takes you a step closer to your dream job.

 

The same is true of relationships. If you focus on a past relationship or an ideal one, you are bound to miss the potential of current relationships.

 

Likewise, if you focus on yesterday or tomorrow, you will miss opportunities that are right in front of you today.

 

Holding Onto The Past

 

In the current world situation, disconnecting from the present might seem like a good idea. It is easy to think of the things you planned to do or how life was so different just a month ago. You might even focus on “if I had only.” However, that only disconnects you from the present.

 

Instead, you might consider this situation an opportunity or a challenge. If you are working from home, consider how to be more productive. Challenge yourself to stay connected to co-workers in a socially-distanced world. If you are still going to a place of employment, make it a challenge. Create new ideas for maintaining distance from other workers and look for other ways of staying healthy.

 

If you have more free time, consider connecting with family, learning a new skill, or enjoying a hobby, or simply having some down time. Use this time to connect to whatever you want and need in your life.

 

Does It Add Value?

 

No matter how you are spending your time you are likely still being bombarded with information about the current situation. Being aware is good; getting caught up in information overload and drama is not good.

 

If the information grasps your focus but adds no value, you may want to consider letting it go. For example, it is easy for some people to get caught up looking at the latest stories on social media, checking the virus statistics, or watching the stock market. The question is, “Do any of these things add value to your life?” If you are going to make changes because of them, then maybe there is a valid reason. However, if you aren’t going to change anything, consider letting them go or minimizing the time you focus on them.

 

These are not things you can control. Instead, turn your attention away and focus on being present in the moment.

 

Dreams

 

None of this negates having dreams and ideas of a better life and a better world in the future. You should absolutely continue to dream. It is just that the dream should not get in the way of your life.

 

For instance, if you are 20 and a budding football star, it makes sense to eat, breathe and live football in hopes of becoming a Denver Bronco. However, if you are sixty-years old and you are still holding onto the same dream, you may have missed out on a lot of life. Continuing to focus your time, thoughts, and actions on that dream means that you are likely missing out on connecting with other possibilities.

 

In this example, the dream should have been transformed or dropped thirty years earlier so that you could be present and enjoy life. As the late Kenny Rogers sang in the Gambler,

 

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
(1)

 

Dreams are the same way. If you continue to hold them beyond their time, you will miss out of living life.

 

Be Present

 

Thus, to stay as healthy as possible, let go of all those things that are not serving you. This will allow you to connect to those people and things that are most important to you in a healthier, stronger way.

Apply it today and find yourself more fully present. New and improved connections are awaiting you!

 

Focus on what is under your control

The world today is challenging all of us. For most of us in the United States, we are accustomed to being able to do what we want, go where we want, and live in any fashion that we choose. By standards of yesteryear and even many countries today, we live in luxury. And, most people here have never experienced restrictions on our freedom. Now, we are facing a time where restrictions limit us. In that light, each of us must focus on what we can control.

 

The Great Depression & WWII

 

The last time there were significant nationwide restrictions on Americans was during World War II. Most of the people that experienced the days of the Great Depression and WWII are no longer with us. Only the few remaining members of the Greatest Generation remember those days. It is from them that we can get some perspective on the situation we are facing today.

 

Availability of Items

 

The challenges of the Great Depression and WWII were different than the challenge we face today. Still, there are some commonalities. During the 1930s and 1940s, the government rationed items because we could not get items, such as, sugar and coffee in a big enough supply for everyone to have as much as they desired. Other items, such as, shoes were rationed to save materials for the war. An important factor is that this wasn’t for a couple of months. These restrictions went on for several years, although some were eased over time.

 

Today items, such as, toilet paper and hand sanitizer are difficult to find in stores. However, the reasons are different. It isn’t that we can’t get materials to make them or that they are needed for another reason. Instead, they are scarce because of panic buying and in some cases hoarding with the idea of profiting off of the situation.

 

The availability of most items should return to normal shortly as people see that supplies are replenished and opportunists find that selling these items more difficult than they imagined due to rules put in place by online marketplaces. To assist with the situation, stores have begun rationing the number of some items that an individual can purchase at a given time until people return to normal purchasing patterns.

 

You can’t control what is on the shelves, but you can ensure that you buy only what you need. Perhaps consider a few extra items so that you have to shop less often, but don’t over do it. Consider how long it will take you to use the items you purchase. The less we all panic buy, the less likely we will have new restrictions on our freedom to purchase items of our choosing.

 

Restaurants and Bars

 

During the war, restaurants stayed open in most areas. However, some had limited hours. Likewise, in some areas nightlife was put on hold by local governments. The reasoning being that it was wrong for people to have fun while our soldiers were risking their lives. Yet, theaters were still open and people did get a burger and fries now and then.

 

Today, restaurants and bars are closed or have limited take-out and delivery services not because it wouldn’t look right, but instead to curb the transmission of COVID-19. One huge difference is that today people eat out far more than they did 80 years ago.

 

Eating out is a habit and some people do it daily. Thus, it seems like a much bigger issue to most people today than it was in 1940. This restriction on our freedom seems to some as overwhelming. If you are one of them, I recommend learning to cook (if you don’t know how), spending time with your family, learning about something you are interested in, or doing some other home activity that you enjoy. If you are an extrovert, talk on the phone, have group chats, email, message, and use social media sites to stay in contact.

 

Businesses

 

Already gyms, restaurants, museums, theaters, and other businesses have had their doors closed or their business greatly altered by government rules. Additionally, there are rumors that some businesses will be asked (or told) to convert to making medical supplies. This type of thing did happen during WWII. Businesses had no choice. The government told them what they would be making and the timeline they had to make it.

 

We aren’t accustomed to the government dictating the closure of businesses or what businesses can and cannot do. However, the longer this outbreak goes on, the more likely business decisions will be controlled by the government. Still, it doesn’t mean that it will be forever. As WWII ramped down, businesses returned to making the products they had made before the war almost overnight. In some cases, the first new civilian products rolled off the assembly lines the same day the restriction was lifted.

 

Travel Restrictions

 

People travel much more today than they did in the 1930s and 1940s. People fly at the drop of a hat, cruise on the oceans, and drive across the country without it being a big deal. It was just a part of life up until the last few weeks when travel restrictions started being put in place.

 

Travel restrictions today are a bit different than during WWII. During WWII, people weren’t technically restricted from travel. However, gas rationing made it nearly impossible to travel. And, if you blew a tire, you probably weren’t getting a new one for a long time, as they required government approval to purchase. Likewise, you had to have government approval to purchase a car or a tractor. Fortunately, we haven’t reached that point.

 

Travel may be greatly restricted right now. So, what can we do? Travel online. Research places that you would like to someday visit, find museum collections online, share stories of previous travel, etc. Use technology to bring travel and exotic places into your life.

 

Focus On What We Can Control

 

The government may control many aspects of life, however, they don’t control everything. Thus, it is important for each of us to focus on what we can control. We cannot control that we can’t hang out at our favorite restaurant. However, if we can afford it, we can still order take out. We can also experiment with making new kinds of food, try new hobbies, etc.

 

We don’t have to allow restrictions on our freedoms to lead to negative thinking. By focusing on what is under your control, we will keep a positive mindset and make it through this situation better people than we were before. We have the Greatest Generation as our role model. Make them proud.

 

Join us March 26 as we discuss Being In Control In Uncertain Times.  The event is FREE.

 

 

Connecting to Gratitude

Connecting to gratitude is one of the keys to healing, happiness, and moving forward. Although it sounds simple, it is often overlooked and sometimes quite challenging.

 

The Easy Stuff

 

It is easy to find good in many things. For instance, having a place to live and food to eat are both good. However, often people take these things for granted or simply accept them without gratitude.

 

The first step in connecting with gratitude is to start seeing these obviously good things as blessings. Prayer, meditation, notes of gratitude, or any other gratitude ritual will help create the connection to gratitude.

 

The Challenge

 

But, what about the bad things in life? Extra work is required to search for something positive worthy of gratitude when considering something that is overall bad. The reason is simple. Being in an emotionally abusive relationship, losing a job, and having an illness rarely have an obvious reason for gratitude. However, connecting to gratitude is very important. Without doing so, truly moving forward is next to impossible.

 

Learning that these experiences have made you who you are is very important to conquering this challenge. Except in cases where a person loathes themselves, it helps a person gain an understanding that value can come in many packages. To take that next step forward, it is critical to be able to give gratitude for those experiences, no matter how negative the situation.

 

Looking For The Light

 

Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find light in something bad. One way to look at something bad is to look at what good has happened because of the bad situation. For instance, perhaps you wouldn’t have met a certain person, moved to a new city, or looked for a different job if the bad situation hadn’t happened.

 

For example, when I was a senior in college, a company interviewed me and wanted to hire me. The problem was that because of things going on in their industry they were not allowed to hire anyone. Now, this company was ideal for me. It paid well, had previously hired a lot of people from my college, and their offices where only a couple of hours away from my family.

 

It wasn’t something terribly bad, but definitely not good either. Fortunately, at the time, I just accepted it as fact and looked at other options. In retrospect, I am grateful that it didn’t work out. If they had been hiring, I likely wouldn’t have pursued working for Bell Labs. Thus, I likely wouldn’t have ended up living in Denver and I would never have met my husband.

 

People have situations that are much worse than the one I recounted. However, there is almost always something for which to be grateful.

 

Letting Go

 

If you are really struggling with finding good about something, it is likely that there are things that you need to let go. Perhaps you haven’t fully let go of a bad relationship or you keep ties to people at a company where you had an awful experience. In these cases, you need to ask if these continued relationships are serving you.

 

The same can be asked of objects that you choose to keep. If they are a reminder of something negative, ask yourself if you need them in your life today.

 

Additionally, you may continue to have an emotional attachment to the situation – no matter how bad it was. Anger, frustration, and even love can continue to hold you to the situation.

 

Once these emotions and other connections to bad situations have been resolved, you will be able to see beyond the negative. At that point, you can see that you became stronger, that your new job really is better for you, or something positive did come from the situation.

 

It can be very difficult to reach the point of being able to find gratitude for something related to a bad situation. After all, it is all very personal to you.

 

Forgiveness is Key

 

One of the keys to being able to express gratitude in negative situations is to forgive those involved in the bad situation. Once you truly forgive them, you can find light in what happened.

 

This shouldn’t be confused with justifying what happened or forgetting what happened. Neither should it be forgiving the person for their benefit. All of these are unhealthy actions. Instead, it should be forgiving for your benefit. To make you healthy. To make you whole.

 

Connecting to Gratitude

 

Start expressing gratitude for the little things and the things that you normally take for granted. Once you are able, express gratitude for the light in the bad things. The more you express gratitude for the light in all things; the more positive things will come your way.

 

If you would like assistance moving toward gratitude, we offer private sessions Forgiving and Releasing that will help you on your way.  Additionally, we offer a group event The Power of Forgiveness.

 

 

Ivory Tower

 

 

Although originally used to reference the isolated life of a poet, the term “ivory tower” has come to be a reference to someone who is not in touch with the real world. In some references, it goes so farther.  In those instances, it indicates  that the person has a complete disregard for lowly real world issues.

 

People who speak about something or someone at a distance,  are often seen as living in an ivory tower.  Those close to the issue often feel that the perspective shared is out of touch with their own personal reality. The more distantly removed one person is from another in terms of geographical distance, cultural distance, economic distance, and educational distance, the more challenging it is to communicate without one person sounding out of touch with the other.

 

In Academia

 

Often the term ivory tower is used to refer to people in academia because they are focused on research and theories. Meanwhile, people actually working in the field are dealing with the realities of the real world.

 

Along these lines, I recall a researcher at the company where I worked who was advising a PhD candidate at one of the Ivy League schools. The corporate researcher was excited about the PhD student’s thesis and wanted to share information about it with me. I am not sure exactly how I reacted, but it was something along the lines of “And, what else?” They were shocked to know that I already “knew” that the PhD student’s hypothesis was true. I politely informed them that it was common knowledge in business, particularly high tech. It would never have occurred to me to try to get a PhD on something that was so obvious in my world. Yet, here was someone from academia doing just that.

 

In Business

 

Business has plenty of its own ivory towers that aren’t focused on research.  One of the most common ivory towers is retail corporate headquarters. On many occasions I have commented to a store employee about recent changes that made little sense. They almost always answer, “It doesn’t make sense to us either.”  Then the employee shares that someone at headquarters made the decision and that they have no choice.   It makes me wonder if the people at headquarters actually ever shop in their stores.

 

Personally, I like to see and select products in person. However, it is often easier online because finding the product in the store can be a hunting expedition. For instance, who would ever think to look for the dish-washing products in the section with animal care and food? If you would, please explain the logic to me. I am sure it is not in that section online.

 

Other kinds of businesses have ivory towers as well. The executives often believe products can be created much faster than possible. They just have no knowledge of what goes into product creation, but demand it all the same.  

 

Similarly, they will cut costs and staff at any turn while they jet around the world staying in luxury accommodations and eating fine meals. It is challenging for employees to see a connection to these executives. 

 

Elections

 

The ivory tower comes into play in elections as well. In a local election, the candidates are usually from the same area as voters and likely have similar experiences as the voters. Likewise, the candidate is either of the same culture as voters or at least has an understanding of the culture of the voters. Some situations may exist where voters view local candidates as living in an ivory tower. However, it is rarer than in a national election where there is more distance.

 

The further from home the elected official serves; the more likely they are to be seen as living in an ivory tower. This is somewhat unavoidable as the larger the group that they serve, the harder it is to relate to the group. Thus, members of Congress are challenged to represent all of their constituents. The President has an even bigger challenge to connect to the general population.

 

The Facade

 

Some people in these positions are really good at getting common people to believe that they understand the life of the factory worker, the farmer, the front line employee, or the person living in the inner city. Most of the time, this is a façade. Thus, it is important to look beyond it to see if even at a high level the person understands or if their eloquent speech is simply winning you over.

 

Breaking Out Of The Tower

 

Now, it is possible for all people who live in ivory towers to become more attuned to the real world. The first step is for them to realize that they have a lack of understanding. Until they give up the idea that they “know,” they will not make progress. Believing that one knows is not the same as having true understanding. And, when there is a lack of understanding, there is a disconnect.

 

To be successful at connecting to a broad set of people, executives, researchers, and elected officials need to reach beyond their circle of influence. They need to reach out to people in all types of positions and from all kinds of backgrounds. For instance, a politician can only truly connect with the people when he or she reaches out and, more importantly, listens to people of all political leanings. Likewise, a truly successful executive will listen to employees at every level and in a variety of jobs.

 

Listening & Understanding

 

Break out of your world and into the world of someone else by listening and really trying to understand. It is through that understanding that you can truly connect. With true connections, people can come together.

 

 

 

Hidden Connections

 

 

Have you tried finding a connection between yourself and each of the people that cross your path during the day? It is interesting to contemplate. At this point, some people may jump to the concept of six-degrees of separation. However, what I have in mind is a bit different.

 

Zero-Degrees of Separation

 

I contend that there is some type of connection between each person and every other person – no matter how completely different the two people are. These connections are sometimes obvious. For instance, two people might have the same educational background, be from the same town, or have the same religious beliefs. Other times, it is more of a challenge to find the connection.

 

Recently, I was considering my connection to various public political figures. For some of them, I could easily see a connection, since I knew we shared a similar opinion on a particular topic. For others, finding the connection was a bit more challenging. I started thinking about the person’s personality, values, background, interests, and experiences compared to my own.

 

Using this scope, I was able to identify at least one “connection” between the person and myself. I am sure there are many more connections I could make with each person if I got to know them.

 

 

Hidden Connections

 

It is not always easy to find connections between yourself and others, especially if you really don’t want to see it. Most of us don’t have a strong desire to find a connection between ourselves and Jack the Ripper or Al Capone. Still, if we took the time to look, we would find a connection. Similarly, we would find a connection with people who live in different parts of the world, have different religions, or live in very different circumstances.

 

Authenticity

 

Although I would challenge you to find a connection to even the seemingly most different person, I would also caution you to pay attention to the authenticity of the connection. For example, political candidates may state an opinion that aligns well with your own perspective. You should consider that connection carefully.

 

First, look at your own opinion and make sure it is something you truly own. Often the opinions we have are those that we believe we should have rather than our true beliefs. Second, consider the same for the candidate. Is their stated opinion really their opinion and the direction they will take if faced with questions on the topic or is it simply what they believe people want to hear. You may even find that you have a connection with someone who states a different opinion than yours because their underlying viewpoint and resulting actions may actually match your perspective.

 

Limitations

 

It is important not to be drawn in by someone’s outward statements if they are not authentic. The Benders are infamous for inviting people into their home for a nice meal, killing them, and dumping them in a field. I am sure that many of their victims initially felt a connection to them believing they were nice folks that were providing a meal to a weary traveler.  Yet, in their case, it was all a scheme to get the victims’ valuables.

 

Therefore, it is important to remember that connections must be authentic. When you consider public personalities or people that cross your path, make sure to look for the connection. They may be on a different path than you, but challenge yourself to find something you authentically have in common. Just be diligent and pay attention so you don’t become a victim of the person behind the curtain.