My next step in climbing out of financial stress was to develop more compassion, empathy and gratitude. There was also a process of re-thinking my life choices.
In a recent New York Times article, “A Nation of Weavers” Social strategist, bestselling author and commentator David Brooks noted these statistics: 47,000 Americans kill themselves every year and 72,000 more die from drug addiction, he then pointed to isolation and individualism as the cause. We are often in the same room and not communicating. We often strive to achieve for ourselves. We look for wealth and notoriety.
I took a different approach. When living day to day not knowing how I was going to pay the bills, I reached out to care for others instead of internalizing. Here’s the breakdown: Humans have two primal reactions that can be in contrast. Fear; the fight or flight reaction and the need for community; to be relational. When challenged, we most often revert to fear. It comes out in our words, our actions and we close ourselves off. In the case of financial difficulties, the common route to take is work harder, or figure out how to make more money. It seems logical, and sometimes it is. But often that solution does not reach the root of the problem and we then we keep making the same mistakes. Instead of looking internally for the solution and addressing my fears, I chose to react with our other primal need: community and relationships, and opened myself up to others and new solutions.
Consciously expressing more compassion, empathy and gratitude, I made sure my children knew they were loved and supported; taking time to listen to them, play with them, and eat together. And then looked into my community to see where I could help, where can I volunteer? On the request of my teens, we shared our home with couple of their friends who needed emotional support, which taxed me; but the experience encouraged appreciation of our home, and we all felt gratitude for what we had.
Together, we delivered meals to the elderly and worked on community meals. In addition, I volunteered for the Recreation Commission and was a Cub Scout den mother. Volunteering in my community was the most important thing I did. I worked toward meeting local needs, gained confidence in my abilities and made friends out of my neighbors. This is how Sharon Graves, Theresa McNulty and I came to brainstorm around addressing community issues, out of this came BuzzAround.Info.
In using this process, there was less isolation. I felt supported as I tried
new things and raised my children. I was still experiencing poverty related problems, and the emotional and situational issues that put me there, but I wasn’t facing them alone. You don’t have to be alone, either. Thanks for reading.