With the economy as it is, there is more uncertainty than ever. Layoffs. Businesses closing. Real estate diving. Volatile stock markets. As if life wasn’t challenging enough. Yet, money is the exchange system of our modern day world. Can we really find inner peace in the face of financial strain?
As I was flying back from Phoenix last week, my seatmate was all too happy to learn I was an “inner peace coach.” He looked at me with puppy dog eyes and sheepishly asked, “You mean there is HOPE for me?”
I could feel his angst and desperation.
Ali shared his story with me. (He gave me permission to share our coaching here.)
Ali owns a single franchise of a popular, national deli chain, Schlotzsky’s. With the downturn of the economy, dozens of the local businesses have downsized or gone completely out of business, gouging a full 40% from his coveted customer base. Ouch! Between high rents in Orange County and reduced demands, Ali is lucky to break even most months. And, with over $500,000 invested in his business, walking away isn’t a thrifty option. Ali is struggling to relax in the evenings, with sleepless nights becoming the norm. Sound familiar?
While these circumstances suck, what WAS great is Ali’s desire to reconnect to inner peace. Instead of just dishing out suggestions, I first asked him 6 questions.
These are the same 6 questions in my “Inner Peace Reality Check” process. This is a fabulous way to transform inner turmoil in minutes.
So … I began with the first question.
1. What’s the reality of the situation?
When we’re caught in emotions like anxiety, overwhelm, fear or stress, it’s practically guaranteed that we’re exaggerating the “worse-case scenarios” or otherwise skewing reality in some way.
As we look objectively at any situation, we immediately gain perspective and fresh awareness.
Here’s what we discovered about the objective reality of Ali’s situation:
* He’s still in business.
* He has $500,000 invested in his business.
* He has loyal customers (who even remember his birthday)
* He was just flying home from a franchise conference with fresh ideas to attract new customers.
* Corporate had offered to participate in lease negotiations with his landlord.
* He is still very PASSIONATE about his business.
2. What are you resisting?
If you’re experiencing any kind of inner turmoil, trust me… you’re pushing against, or RESISTING something emotionally. So, let’s get curious about what that is about. For you… and for Ali.
For Ali, his biggest form of resistance was WORRY. As I shared with him, “Worry is resisting a future that hasn’t happened.” So, while we don’t want to play like an ostrich and put our head in the sand, we also don’t want to scare ourselves into paralysis or a heart-attack by focusing on a devastating future that MAY never come to be. As Ali said, “I’m killing myself.” Unfortunately, that isn’t an exaggeration. When we indulge in perpetual states of resistance, like worry, overwhelm or fear, we’re harming our bodies and creating environments for disease to thrive.
He was also resisting uncertainty. Another favorite form of resistance for many.
He was also resisting the loss of business. Can’t blame him for this, but dwelling on any loss is equivalent to beating a hammer on your head. It hurts.
And to a lesser extent, he was resisting doing things a little differently.
So, then I asked him …
3. What if you continue resisting?
No one likes this question because it forces us to feel into that which we’re most resisting. It’s a reality check. Yet, the question is ultimately liberating. What are the potential costs if you keep resisting the current reality?
I helped him discover that if he keeps resisting, he would be less available for his family. He’d ultimately cause harm to his health. He’d be less focused and productive at work. And, he could potentially go out of business if he continued these stressful habits.
Like I said, it’s not fun to face this reality-provoking question, but it’s worth feeling into. Here’s why. When we acknowledge the cost of indulging in inner turmoil, it gives us leverage to find another path. And, anything we feel into fully…ultimately transforms.
4. What can you appreciate about the situation?
Seems sort of odd to ask a stranger what they appreciate about a bleak situation. Right? Yet, the second I asked this question, Ali immediately dropped into gratitude.
First off, he was grateful for living in America. Ali recognizes just how many countries don’t divy out freedom so generously. Ali continued by saying, “There isn’t a single day I’m not grateful for the weather in southern California.” He moved from London 10+ years ago. He has a loving family. He has corporate support to help negotiate leases and inspire him with ideas. He was grateful for his passion.
As he basked in his gratitude, his energy shifted. He became lighter, freer, more creative and more peaceful.
So … I asked him the next question.
5. What are your options?
I pointed out to him that “options are neutral.” And, in any given situation, he always had the option to “do nothing” or “keep resisting.” Clearly, those weren’t his top choices.
Since he was resting in the energy frequency of “gratitude” he was quite resourceful. Ideas were popping. Optimism was alive!
He named several advertising campaigns he’d successfully implemented recently. He was ready to re-negotiate his lease with his landlord. He talked about soliciting local businesses for catering jobs and spreading awareness.
Then, he asked me for exercises, which could help him experience greater inner peace. (Reaching out for help and advice is a fabulous option! Who says you have to do it all alone?)
First I shared, “It’s important to recognize there is a part of you that is ALWAYS at peace. Yet, most of us don’t give it much attention.”
He laughed and said, “Yeah, mine must be a tiny speck. What can I do?”
I told him about NOW Practices, because when we’re squarely resting in the present moment, we have the greatest access to inner peace.
As I explained to Ali, a NOW Practice is taking an activity that you’re doing in your life everyday anyway, and consciously practicing being more present during that activity. If you have a copy of my book The Power of Inner Choice, it’s Lesson #1.
I described what a NOW Practice in the “shower” might look like. Start by engaging the senses. What are you seeing? (shampoo bottles, colors, texture of tile, etc). What are you hearing? (sound of water caressing your body) What are you smelling? (soaps, water, shampoos, etc.) What are you feeling? (pressure of water, standing on porcelain, scrubbing your body, etc.) As we engage each sense deliberately, we challenge ourselves to be more present.
And, the more we “practice” being present… the more inner peace naturally occurs.
When I mentioned “eating” as a NOW Practice, everything clicked. After all, Ali is a restaurant owner and food connoisseur. Although he’d never heard of NOW Practices, he was actually doing one at every meal.
He got very excited because he knew he could do this.
And the final question …
6. What will you consciously choose?
It’s not good enough to have options, it’s essential to choose. And, it only needs to be “one” choice at a time.
Ali enthusiastically committed to taking on two NOW Practices … eating and showering. He also committed to following through on several business strategies.
As our flight descended, Ali’s gratitude was overflowing. That morning, he had quietly prayed for guidance and support to navigate these tumultuous times. And voila…an inner peace coach shows up on the scene.
He humbly expressed his appreciation for the ideas shared, and I could tell he would put it all into action. If you live in Orange County, CA and want to stop in and meet Ali … his Schlotzsky’s store is in Lake Forest. He’d love to meet you!
The next time you’re finding yourself in an emotional traffic jam, walk yourself through these 6 simple questions…known as the “Inner Peace Reality Check.” They work wonders. You deserve more inner peace.
What can you appreciate about your situation?
Share your thoughts with me below!