What Do You See?


“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

Although I do often write from a personal perspective, I rarely reveal specifics surrounding my daily life. Today is different. I lost my job on Thursday. I am now among the millions of unemployed … a number that we all know is growing daily. While there is intellectual comfort in knowing that we are not alone, when faced with looming bills to be paid, those numbers mean little.

As I sent out emails, letting friends and old contacts know of the situation (ie: Help! I’m looking for a job!!), many wrote back expressing sorrow and talking about the difficulties of finding work in these extraordinarily challenging economic times. One, in particular, stood out … “Glad to see that your spirits are up!! Mine were down when XXXX let me go. However…. persistence will prevail.” Yes, persistence will prevail, no doubt, but that’s not what struck me. What made me stop for a moment was the comparison … that in my note to him it was evident that I looked at things differently. That I wasn’t going to let the reality of the situation change my attitude toward life. Why, or why not?

My Father was a very logical and practical man. I often thought of him as Mr. Spock. I think I inherited the gene. I’ve also gone through some enormously challenging times in my life, starting from when I was a very young child. Those challenging times left me with a gift … a gift of knowing just how strong the mind is. We often hear that we can choose how we will handle challenges, but even more importantly, we can choose what we will look at in any given situation.

Right now, I can choose to focus my attention – my thoughts, my reactions, my talk – to the ‘direness’ of losing my job … or … I can focus that exact same amount of energy on making contacts every day, taking care of my health, reminding myself of my successes and that tomorrow is yet another brand new day. If I concentrate my thoughts on the first scenario, I spiral down into a depression, sitting on the couch, worrying how I’ll pay the bills and crying to my friend. If I choose the second, I am making inroads  toward what I know will be the end of this difficult and challenging time.

Life cycles. Things begin, things end. We all have absolutely wonderful days, filled with love and laughter and joy. And we all have the harshest of times, when it’s difficult to see anything beyond the moment. No matter what I choose to focus on, life will continue its cycle. I’m fully aware of the difficulties that lie ahead … I know there are bills to be paid from a non-existent income, and that the job market right now is without question the most challenging one in the last 50 years or more. I don’t need to sit and think about them over and over … what good would that do me? What I can do, however, is choose to concentrate the energy within my spirit on the knowledge that I have the power to accept this challenge and move forward, doing what I can to lay the groundwork for the upside of life’s cycle.

Are my spirits ‘up’? You can call it that, if you want. I prefer to call it reality.

Photo by Buddha Jyothiprasad

16 thoughts on “What Do You See?”

  1. These are great thoughts, Catherine. While difficult for many of us to maintain, positive thinking is profoundly powerful and the resistance to the difficult situation is actually the source of suffering — not the event itself.

    Given a difficult situation, we often repeatedly ask ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” without giving ourselves an answer. I have personally found that finding the meaning (i.e. personal growth) in negative events is the way to move forward.

    “Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.” ~ D.T. Suzuki

    “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” ~ Victor Frankl

  2. I am unemployed right now as well, though I was very excited. Sure, it’s scary and challenging, but I see an incredible opportunity for so many of us. I’m not saying that just to sound positive. Like a metal beaten to shape by a master blacksmith, we are going through a massive growth that’ll blossom into a higher plateau of humanity.


  3. I think of people as starting over not unemployed. It’s a new opportunity to begin again. I’ve just written a post “24 Ways to Beat the Unemployment Blues at my blog The Bold Life. I invite you to check it out.

  4. You make a great point, in the second to last paragraph, about taking the action that you can and letting the rest go (because you can’t control it). Choosing not to focus on the “direness of losing your job” by doing the things you can do is a great way to be. Thanks for this post.

  5. Catherine,

    I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to share part of the email you just sent to me:

    Hey, and guess what? I got a job today! Amazing what can happen when you put the energy out there, and do what you need to do to make things happen. I lost my job Thursday at 4:30, and got a new (and better) one Tuesday at 3:30. Life works, if you let it.

    What a great story. It just goes to show the importance of focusing on the positives of any given situation. Now, it is obviously unrealistic to think things will work out so well for everyone out there who loses their job given the extent of the problems, but it does goes to show there are opportunities out there. Thanks for the though-provoking article!

  6. Hi Catherine

    I wanted to post a comment last night but then my internet died. That worked out for the best I guess because now I get to see that you have found a job. Wonderful news!

    Nevertheless, I think that your post alone will bring comfort and hope to others.


  7. ‘I can choose to focus my attention.’ This is so right. It seems to me that this is everything. When you get this right, you ‘get’ life and things work out.

    Thanks for sharing for experience.

  8. Hi Catherine,

    We can control what we look at and as the saying goes, “loving people live in a loving world, hostile people live in a hostile world, same world.”

    There maybe a recession going on in the world but it is also through this recession where opportunities are created for us to take the leap.

    Personal Development Blogger

  9. Peter,

    I’m sorry to hear about you losing your job, it’s a common thing in this economy with lots of my friends having to deal with the same situation. You seem like you are in the right mindset though so I see you having no problems with this little hurdle in your life.

    “The brick walls are there to ask us how badly we want something”

    Keep it up!


  10. Once we really understand life is a flow we get used to changing circumstances, we will embrace things that happen and like you get into action with intent and things flow again. You finding a job proved it, how much more proof do we need to move into this new reality.
    Thank you for sharing, this all helps to move into the right direction.

  11. I lost my job too. First few days i was able to keep the enthusianm going. Then fear and uncertainty starts gnawing.

    Thanks for this post. Sometimes one requires a push in the right direction!

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