Lessons From 2020

Most people agree that 2020 has been the strangest year of their lifetime. Even my 90+ year-old father says that it is the weirdest time he has experienced. Some people have described it as the “Perfect Storm” with COVID-19, George Floyd’s death, and Cancel Culture surfacing in an election year. But, what lessons have we learned from all of this?

 

Let the Grumbling Begin

 

Listening to all the grumbling going on in America, one might surmise that the biggest lesson that we have learned is that we, as a people, are very accustomed to doing what we want. We do not like rules. Additionally, people are definitely not patient.

 

Well, these are all truths about the American people. However, none of these “lessons” are hardly a revelation. For years, the behavior of people has demonstrated impatience and a dislike for rules. 2020 has simply brought these issues to the surface.

 

Fear and Frustration

 

For many people, the grumbling comes out of fear or frustration.  People were and still are afraid of COVID-19. The virus can result in serious issues or death. Thus, it is something to take seriously. However, the fear in many cases is so deep that people assume it is even more dangerous than the facts show.

 

Similarly, the frustration that people feel over the rules, trying to work at home and manage children in the house, being away from friends and family, etc. overwhelms many people. Each of these things is a frustration in its own right, but together they create a frustration that many people have never experienced before.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lessons of 2020 are that fear and frustration can truly take over your life.

 

Human Interaction

 

Being away from friends and family is more than a simple frustration. It makes life difficult. Humans by nature are social beings. They need interactions with others, including hugs and touch. The need for interaction is the reason why many people consider solitary confinement cruel. So, although people today aren’t completely isolated from all human interaction, it has been greatly curtailed.

 

In many cases, workers are working remotely from others in the same company or seeing clients via video or telephone. Having personally worked remote, had remote workers working for me, and having seen clients remote, I can tell you that the reports of something being lost in an electronic-connection are very real. It is much more difficult to build a personal connection and to understand the other person’s perspective when not in person.

 

Thus, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that human connection is an essential element of life.

 

Anger and Violence

 

There are several sources of the anger and violence that is being demonstrated in the streets of American cities. Some people are truly upset about equality and justice. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people that simply want destruction. No matter the reason for the anger and violence, we have seen that standing back and allowing them to act out does not work. Anger and violence just beget more of the same.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that you need to take action if you want to stop a behavior. It might also be that if we want love and acceptance, we need to visibly demonstrate the same. Alternately, it may be that life is short or at least too short to be consumed with negative emotions.

 

Our choices Do Make a Difference

 

People’s perspective on life in 2020 is very much based on the decisions they have made when faced with the 2020 challenges. Some have chosen to listen to the drama and hype while others have listened to the facts. Similarly, some have decided to do what is right for themselves and their families without judgment of others. Meanwhile, some have decided that what is right for them is the answer for everybody.

 

Choices during this time also include deciding to be happy and find creative solutions to a person’s business and/or personal pursuits. Others choose not to look beyond what 2019 offered, leaving them feeling stuck and frustrated.

 

Thus, the lesson of 2020 may be that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Other Lessons

 

2020 has presented the opportunity to learn many other lessons as well. The lessons each person can learn from this situation are as unique as the people themselves. Some may learn that they need to spend more time with their family or may come to consider time with loved ones precious.

 

Others may focus inward and see that they need to put themselves first more often. Perhaps they learned the value of down time or having a hobby. They may even come to really appreciate many things that they previously took for granted.

 

Whatever your story, make sure that you learn as much from 2020 as you can. If you don’t learn, you are likely to repeat the lesson. Something most of us don’t want to do.

 

The Power Of Energy

Everything in this universe is made of energy. The power of energy is amazing and can create wonderful things. Likewise, it can also be used to manifest the worst of things.

 

Energy manifests people, trees, mountains, houses, planets, horses, diseases, and emotions. We identify each thing as unique with specific words that describe them. However, at the core, they remain energy. With time and the right circumstances, each one can be transformed into something different.

 

Spoon Bending

 

Spoon BendingThe transformation of energy can readily be demonstrated using spoon bending. A spoon can easily be bent without a hammer or other tools by simply getting into the correct frame of mind. Some people will still need to put mild pressure on the spoon, but for others it will simply melt in their hands curling around into a new shape.

 

Some people believe this is stage magic, but it is not. I have personally bent spoons, witnessed others bending spoons, and have successfully taught people that knew nothing about spoon bending how to transform a spoon. The only magic to it is opening up your mind to the possibilities.

 

Fighting

 

Now, lets consider the current world situation. COVID-19 is still raging across the world. People are fighting about everything. Some are fighting over the effectiveness of medicines and masks to fight the virus. Others are fighting against oppression. And, others are fighting against everything American. At the same time, people aren’t allowed to gather with family and friends. Church services are prohibited or limited out of caution.

 

The bottom line is that a huge amount of the collective energy in the world is currently focused on negativity, which in turn manifests more negativity.

 

Turning It Around

 

We, as the collective citizens of earth, have the ability to turn the tide toward the positive. All we have to do is to set our intent on all the positive possibilities. For instance, focusing on statements, such as, “Americans will be wearing masks for years,” brings forward the image of masks forever. This energy holds the virus here and doesn’t allow it to be released. On the other hand, if we focus our energy on a world that is free of COVID-19, it makes room for healing and for the virus to be eliminated.

 

The same can be said of all the other negativity that is manifesting in our country. For instance, the idea of equality and equal treatment by the police is an honorable one. However, when the issue is hijacked and exploited by people with other agendas, the movement loses its original intent. Instead, it has bread violence and negativity that go far beyond the issue at hand. In this situation, we can help by focusing our energy on having a country where every person is treated with respect and dignity.

 

World Shift

 

Now, you might not believe that we really have the power to make this type of shift in the world. It is okay to be skeptical. All I would ask is that you observe your personal world and give it a try.

 

COVID-19

 

To do this, consider where you focus your energy. For COVID-19, do you focus on fear of you or a loved one getting the virus? Do you focus on whether people wear masks or do you feel compelled to pressure people to wear masks? If the answer to any of these questions is, “Yes,” then you are holding onto the virus.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to take unnecessary risks. Instead, it means that you take the proper precautions that you feel are necessary for you and your family while remaining optimistic that this virus can be beat. If you are having difficulty being optimistic, stay away from the news and the statistics. Instead, find something positive to do. Help someone or focus on personal growth.

 

Equality

 

The same can be applied to the equal treatment of people. First, be a survivor, not a victim. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into feeling things that you don’t. Otherwise, you will no longer be your authentic self. Second, check your focus. Are you focusing on how horrible the police or other people are? Do you consider all people of any group racist, horrible, or any other negative adjective? If you do, consider starting from the perspective that most people are good people. Again, don’t take unnecessary risks. There are people that will harm you. However, if you look beyond the color of the person’s skin, their politics, and their religion, you may find that the person is a good person. Amazingly, you may even find that you have a lot in common.

 

Personal Transformation

 

Self-observation, reflection, and movement toward positive energy are key steps toward transforming yourself. With this transformation, you will change your life. By changing your life, you will change the life of others around you. The change just continues to grow and grow until the energy reaches a point where it tilts the overall energy from the negative to the positive. Once that happens, you have become a part of changing the world and making it a better place to live.

 

To learn more about personal transformation, check out our articles “Opening the Door to Change” and “Look for the Good in Everything.” Additionally, you may wish to check out Charles Cox’s blog post “Essentials of Personal Transformation.”

 

An Authentic Life

Living an authentic life is a concept that is easy to understand, but often challenging to implement. This year has presented more challenges for the general population than the typical year. Thus, living an authentic life today is even more challenging than ever.

 

Living Authentically

 

In the simplest terms, living an authentic life means being who you really are. This means that you let go of who others say you are and who they want you to be. You are also honest with yourself about both your positive and negative attributes.

 

You can start by defining basic attributes that someone might use to describe you. Perhaps you are tall, have medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can dye your hair, wear contacts that change your eyes color, and go to a tanning salon. Still, your DNA will indicate that you are tall with medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can pretend to be different, but that isn’t who you are underneath.

 

Additionally, when living authentically, you recognize your achievements, give credit to others where credit is due, and take the blame when appropriate. This relates very much to the concept of taking 100% responsibility. Taking too much or too little responsibility never leads you to authenticity or happiness. If you take responsibility or claim credit when someone else should be doing the work, did the work, or is to blame, you are cheating the other person and yourself. Thus, 100% responsibility is a key ingredient to living authentically.

 

2020 Challenges

 

Under the best of circumstances, living an authentic life takes work. 2020 has added challenges that make it even more difficult to maintain the focus and internal personal view that is required to create and maintain an authentic life.

 

COVID-19

 

COVID-19 has brought out interesting behaviors in people. Most of which have been brought about because of fear, as we discussed in a recent article, “Why Fear?” The combination of fear, ever-changing rules, and unknowns present challenges to people. As a result, people end up with differing opinions and different interpretations of the rules. Some of these people choose to chastise those who see things differently than they do.

 

Even when pressure is applied with the best intention, it often results in the other person fighting back – at least mentally. You may find that although you are acting and even believing things that are not aligned with who you really are. You may even push back against them although you agree with the person in principle.

 

Likewise, the COVID rules may drive you to behave in ways that are not aligned with your experience or desires. For instance, if you are an extrovert or a person who likes lots of physical touch, you may not be behaving in alignment with those qualities. It is important to recognize those attributes of yourself and find a way to honor them.

 

The History of Our Country

 

Protests, riots, and destruction have also created pressure to destroy our past and for the country to become something it is not. Like it or not, the country was not formed by people that simply came together, sang “Imagine,” and lived in perfect harmony. Instead, it was a hard fight. People had different perspectives, but in the end the people came together as one country.

 

Like it or not, our country’s history is our country’s history. Owning up to the country’s history is just as important as owning up to your own personal history. Without both, you can’t live an authentic life. Like with historical statues that have been dismantled, you can ignore and take your history out of sight, but it is still part of who you are.

 

Pretending that your past isn’t your past never leads to an authentic life. Now, you can do internal work to grow from your past and it is something that you don’t have to outwardly share in all situations. However, you should never hide from it.

 

Race Wars

 

In addition, there is pressure to see our country in the midst of a race war despite the fact that people of all backgrounds have many positive interactions each day. This is not to say that prejudice does not exist. It does. Our article “Retraining the Brain” discusses bias and how it plays a part of everybody’s life.

 

With awareness, everyone can make better decisions and limit how bias affects decisions that they make. This does not, however, mean that anyone needs to denounce their ethnic background – even people of European heritage with a long history in this country. Instead, consider that each person has their own story that is made up of many attributes.  A portion of that story is the history of their ancestors.  But, the most important part of their story is their personal story and the life they have lived.  Facts of the past cannot be changed.

 

Similarly, an African American police officer can be proud to be African American and simultaneously be proud to serve as a police officer. According to some people, these officers are “no longer black;” they are blue. Again, their heritage and their occupation are both facts. They are what they are.

 

A person who is authentic will not apologize for facts about themselves. Additionally, an authentic life does not include guilt or victim-hood for events that occurred years before the person’s birth. They can be considerate and can make good decisions in their life with regards to people of all backgrounds. No one needs to take on the burden of the past. It is fact and it cannot be changed.

 

Cancel Culture

 

The current trend toward “cancelling” anything that someone dislikes also pressures people to be less than authentic. People are afraid that if they don’t outwardly support certain opinions that they, too, will be cancelled. They know that in today’s world, they don’t even have the option to remain silent. It is almost as if the right to remain silent has been stricken from the law books.

 

This pressure is very strong, especially for people in the public eye. Yet, according to Psychology Today, “The authentic person will not . . . let others bully them into taking a position they don’t agree with.” They go on to say, “Authenticity requires us to be able to overcome our desire to fit in and be part of the crowd.”

 

So, if you are feeling like you need to take up a position that you wouldn’t have considered taking up six months ago, you might want to ask yourself if you are being authentic. It is possible that you have become aware of an issue and now feel driven to support that position. However, it is also possible that you are simply being intimidated into a position that you don’t really support.

 

Leading An Authentic Life

 

It is more important than ever to focus on who you really are at the core. Act based on your life, your beliefs, your values, your opinions, and your knowledge. At this time, it is critical that you really think things through. Know that you are 100% responsible for your life and your decisions. However, you are not responsible for other people’s life choices.

 

You can be compassionate and empathetic. Listen. Learn. Those are good things that enhance our lives and help us to be more authentic. Just be careful of the trap of taking on someone else’s view of who you are. By doing so, you nearly always become less authentic.

 

If you would like to work toward a more authentic life, consider our “Finding Your Authentic Self” coaching sessions.

 

 

Why Fear?

This is the first of a two-part series looking at fear. We will dive into the hot topics of 2020. In the first post, we will take a look at why fear of COVID-19 continues. In the second post, we look at fear associated with the tense political climate surrounding the death of George Floyd, the protests, and the riots.

 

Fear

 

Let’s start by talking about the famous phrase “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered the phrase during his first inaugural address in the midst of the Great Depression. There is great wisdom in this statement because fear limits us. And, it makes us more vulnerable to those who desire harm.

 

In Context

 

As meaningful as that statement is, far more can be gleaned by reading the statement in context.

 

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.

Source: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

In this more complete statement, it becomes evident that the reference was that fear was a major contributor holding the country back. Conquering fear was necessary in order to end the Great Depression.

 

Fear In America

 

These words are very relevant today as we seemingly deal with crisis after crisis.

 

COVID-19 and the recent political events have both induced or surfaced fear in America. Each of these issues is an important one to be addressed. Still, the fear that is being created does not serve us and does not solve any of these issues.

 

It is important to review the facts. Then, one must consider “why” fear is encouraged.

 

Taking a Look At COVID-19

 

Back in February (which seems like a lifetime ago) COVID-19 was first becoming known in America. Horrific stories were making their way here from Europe. The predictions were also dire. Therefore, it made sense to take extreme measures to protect the American population.

 

Flash forward four months. The medical community is now vastly more knowledgeable about the virus and its effects. The dire predictions have been realized and the curve has flattened. Still, panic of the coronavirus permeates society.

 

The Numbers

 

I thought it might help to look at some of the numbers from Colorado.  This puts them in a slightly different perspective than they are presented in daily counts. Let’s start with the most vulnerable – those over age 70. A lower percentage of total cases are in the 70-79 and 80+ age groups.  However, the number of cases in these age groups is higher proportionately than the population of this age group.

 

Additionally, the fatality rates in these groups are higher. Still, to give some perspective the fatalities to date have been .1% of the 70-79 population. It is slightly higher with a fatality rate of .4% of the people over 80. It is also important to remember that these death rates include all people that had COVID-19 at the time of death.  Some of these people died of something entirely different, but simply were positive for COVID-19.

 

In contrast, there are approximately 4.6 million people under 60 and there have only been approximately 400 deaths (less than 100th of a percent of the population) in that age range associated with COVID-19.

 

The Fear

 

Each of these lives is important. Concern and precautions are clearly warranted. If you are in a higher risk group, you may wish to take additional precautions. Likewise, if you are visiting an elderly relative or live with person with a deficient immune system, you may want to be more careful than the general public needs to be.

 

Still, you must consider whether it warrants continuing some of the extreme measures that have been undertaken and continuing the panic. Is telling people they should stay home still warranted when the reason given for the move originally was to flatten the curve? The curve is now flat, so why are we still strongly encouraged to stay home?

 

Somehow flattening the curve has turned into anxiety about going out of the house, a panic that everyone will die, and heightened fear in general. However, fear can lead to depression, cause people to avoid other needed medical care, and keep them from their families who they so desperately need. So, why embrace the fear? Instead, say, “No.” Then ask yourself, “Who is it that wants you to feel fear and why?”