Remaining in Control of One’s Better Self

As our nation’s economy continues to sputter like an old car that is badly in need of maintenance and repair, an increasing number of people are suffering – jobs are being eliminated, workers are being laid off, employees’ hours on the job are being reduced, cash reserves are being depleted, home owners’ ability to keep current on mortgage payments and other on-going obligations is being weakened, and the mood of the average American is souring.

One of the concerns that many of us ought to have is that this fiscal condition may prompt grossly affected folks to try to point fingers and blame innocent “others” for this on-going human and national tragedy. After all, history records the fact that in the midst of financial turmoil there is an increase in discrimination, hate and prejudice – these are but some of the ways that people act out their anxiety, fear and worry. 

Under these circumstances, we would do well to constantly monitor our own feelings and to gauge our reactions to situations not of our own making. If we are usually calm and deliberate, and we discover that some of our coping skills have become less effective simply because the flow of bad economic news – accompanied by our own uncertainty – is playing havoc with our emotional strength to endure adversity, there are steps for us to take.

Should we feel that we are under siege, rather than suffering in silence or uncharacteristically lashing out at others, it would be very helpful if we turn to people whom we trust (such as a psychotherapist, a clergyperson, et al.) and not only seek time to articulate our deepest fears but to seek guidance before we drown in these uncharted waters.

In like manner, if we find that a loved one or friend is showing signs of great angst – and we think that this condition is the manifestation of fiscal upheaval – out of concern and with compassion we need to be emotionally supportive and let that individual know that we are nearby – certainly not to interfere but to provide empathic comfort whenever that would be welcome and useful.

Each of us is endowed with a “better self;” it is sometimes very difficult to remain in control of it when we are scared. Thus, awareness and acknowledging what’s really happening are essential as we interact with others in the most wholesome ways even when challenged by a most awesome monetary crisis.

Rabbi Allen I. Freehling

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