How you can be an inspiration to both family and friends during tough times.
These days, it’s almost impossible to avoid the constant reports on the economy, unemployment rates, rising prices and the negative financial impact all of this is having on our lives. Many clients I work with, especially parents, have indicated these bleak reports are taking a toll on their psyches as they try to manage their households and provide for their families.
Recently, a client began a session explaining that even though and she and her husband had steady jobs they enjoyed, manageable debt and children who were excelling in school, she was becoming consumed by an ominous feeling. She described how fortunate her family was, but how some of her closest friends were suddenly facing tough financial times. Hearing about their situations and the subsequent sympathy she felt was “zapping her energy.” It may not have been her family’s difficulty but still it felt very real, almost as if they were next.
Making ends meet can be difficult enough in strong economic times, but during periods such as these when we may need to “tighten our belts,” the challenges parents face extend beyond balancing finances to include managing fear and an internal loss of energy and motivation. Traditionally, economic downturns often trigger emotional struggles that leave everyone feeling weak, lethargic and fatigued.
It’s important to note that as parents, whether stay-at-home or out in the work force, you are leaders and it is absolutely normal for leaders to experience a drain of energy when pressure is building. But now is not the time for parents to succumb! In fact, now is the time to exercise your leadership skills by stepping up and shifting your energy from low to high so you can remain a source of inspiration and strength, not just for the family, but to everyone in your personal community.
Energy, both high and low, is “contagious.” High energy is associated with positive thoughts and creates enthusiasm and movement, while the low energy creates blocks and paralysis. Low energy must be overcome if you want to be a motivating presence in the home and beyond. Here are some tips to help you shift your energy the next time you feel it start to wane:
Be conscious of your thoughts
As human beings, what we choose to focus our thoughts on dictates our energy level and the energy we transfer to others. Leaders need to understand the source of their thoughts. Start by asking yourself “what started this succession of negative thoughts and feelings?” How possible is it that the way you feel is the result of congested traffic you encountered on the way home, a disagreement with a troubling neighbor or even something that happened earlier in the day at the office?
It is easy to get caught in a cycle where negative thoughts take hold of our emotions and actually alter our moods. But being aware of what triggers our descent down the path of negative thinking affords us the opportunity to choose whether we continue down this path of negativity or choose to focus on positive thoughts that motivate and inspire us and everyone else in our life.
Be conscious of the energy level of those around you
Just as your energy is contagious, so is the energy of those around you. Is it possible that you are absorbing the low energy of a colleague or friend who is talking about a terrible day? Taking on a person’s low energy is a sign that you have chosen to jump in the hole with a person as opposed to throwing them a line and helping to pull him or her out.
We can and should empathize with others, but danger exists when sympathy becomes your approach. Sympathy means you have taken on the pain of someone’s unfortunate circumstance, while empathy is about understanding the situation while not getting emotionally attached. When you get caught up in somebody’s unfortunate circumstance, you aren’t doing anyone any favors. It is much more powerful to lend an ear and share your enthusiastic and positive zest for life.
Make the shift
Leaders realize they have less of a chance to help others when they’re in a state of low energy, so being conscious of your energy level is important. When you recognize low energy in yourself, it becomes necessary to activate thoughts that will make you feel good. Whether it is remembering a pleasant experience, hearing a favorite song or simply telling yourself, “I want to feel good,” you have to push yourself to a place where your energy is high.
Shifting the energy of those around you can be an intentional or unintentional act. True leadership often embodies the spark that ignites the fire in others. When you act on positive emotions, speak with a passionate voice, answer questions in an inspiring way or simply emit confidence and joy, the results can be contagious. If, as a parent, you don’t “walk the walk” and demonstrate a confidence, high energy and a positive outlook, then what does that say to others, particularly your children?
Life will always present you with situations that will challenge you to shift your outlook and reaction. It’s a matter of choice. You can see the tough times, higher gas prices and less income and conclude that things are hopeless. Or you can look at the world and see the endless array of life-enriching experiences and possibilities. This is a time for parents to be creative and ingenious leaders, and an opportunity to be the kind of person who will inspire great triumphs in those we touch.
James Boyle is founder and Positive Energy Coach at Higher Potentials. He works with clients to make sure they bring their ‘A game’ with them everyday they step through the door and out into the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.higherpotentials.com. He lives in West Orange, New Jersey.