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How Not To Freak Out When Things Go Wrong4 Min Read

How Not to Freak Out When Things Go Wrong4 min read


At the end of 2012, I freaked out for about a day.

I had set something in motion that could have dire financial consequences in my business and life.

I had decided to stop holding my Marketing Mastery Groups for a time. I’d put so much hard work into these groups for four years and was feeling a little burnt out.

Instead, I decided to work only with individual clients for a couple years (it ended up being three), which meant my income would decrease substantially.

When I realized what I had done, I freaked out a bit. For me, freaking out looks like obsessive worrying, feeling desperate, and blaming myself for doing the wrong thing.

You know, you’ve been there.

But it was more like a short bout of the flu. After a day it was gone as I’d returned to my imperturbable center, the place that, no matter the circumstances, is always calm.

Ultimately I knew, without doubt, that I’d be OK.

But how do you find that place in tough times when your cash flow is a mess, you can’t attract clients and you feel as though you’ve run out of options?

I think the first thing to realize is that circumstances have no power to upset us, freak us out or get us off track.

It’s only the thinking about the circumstances that set us off. Think of it this way: If some undesirable event takes place we are not upset if we don’t know about it. Once we know about it, we get upset. So it is never the event that is inherently upsetting. It’s our thinking about the event.

For instance, we’re feeling happy and contented, and then we realize our bank account is almost empty and the rent is due in a week, with no prospects in sight. Those are the facts.

But the facts, in and of themselves, are not upsetting. No, it’s our thinking about the facts that upset us.  

And in my case, decreasing my income by six figures in the coming year wasn’t upsetting either. It was what it was.

Our minds, however, think and feel quite differently about these kind of situations. Our minds go into reaction or panic mode, desperately trying to find a way to change the situation and survive.

For less dire problems, we ultimately find a solution pretty quickly, but when the problem is serious, apparently insolvable, one or two things happen.

We start to generate a whole list of unworkable solutions. “I know, I’ll sell cookies on the street!” (Ultimately these kinds of solutions go nowhere.)

Or we go into breakdown mode.

Breakdown mode is completely giving up. We go a little crazy and all the solutions the mind was generating just shut down. Some people call this “surrendering to the situation.”

What happens after the breakdown and surrender, is a new kind of clarity, not more thinking and solutions. This happens outside your mind and outside of time.

You may suddenly realize you’re completely OK, that whether you survive or not is no longer the issue. You don’t see the situation as a problem anymore. The situation is no more significant than any common occurrence, from the music playing on the stereo to the play of light on your desk.

Your situation just is. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is what happened to me after freaking out about my cash flow situation. I just let it happen. Until my mind stopped.

Then, I enjoyed a feeling of freedom and release. “I’m going to be OK. In fact, I’ve always been OK.” My worrisome situation and frantic thoughts dropped into the background. And that which never changes stepped into the foreground.

And in that space, the clarity of what to do wasn’t any more difficult or challenging than any routine task I had faced thousands of times in my life.

Ultimately we did just fine for three years with much less income and I put my focus on other things that were more important to me.

Look, I’m big on strategies and action plans, as you know. But sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Instead, you have to welcome the breakdown, the utter despair of things not working in order to have the breakthrough that reveals who you really are.

Cheers, Robert

Do you know someone who’s in dire straits? This article might help. In any case, it might be a reminder that our conditioned, reactive minds are not always the solution to our problems. When we have the good luck to step outside of our reasoning minds, there just might be something much more powerful in the background, ready to step forward.


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