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Recession Anxiety: Refusing to Lose

I talk a lot about the feminine spiral effect in our communities. Women spiral out. We network in circular patterns. We impact everything we touch because we are relationship-makers. We connect people to each other and share our resources.

Today I want to talk about spiraling inward, spiraling down. Most of us by now have watched friends, family, or ourselves get thrown under the bus of a down-turned economy. When our resources as we know them shrink, and then shrink again, our image of ourselves and what is possible is likely to shrivel, too. I have been surrounded by anxiety—mine and others’ in my community—around the questions: What will become of us? What if I can’t refinance? What if I can’t afford to pay for groceries? What if we lose the house?

What’s the Worst Loss?
What if you allowed yourself to go down road of collapse, go down the rabbit hole, and follow that anxiety to its logical conclusion? Oh yes, the anxiety is awful, the fear is real. But the mistake most of us make is being stuck in the spin cycle of the fear. What if we took on each anxious question in a formal exercise and asked, “What is the worst that could happen?” The practice is to identify that fear, and keep asking the same question of each new answer until you find your ultimate “worst thing” and realize: That’s the worst that could happen?

For me it was a question of my real estate business. I was gripped by nerves, asking, “What if I can’t keep up in this new market? What if I can no longer afford my properties?” My answers looked like this: I could screw up my credit. Lose some rental properties. Not be able to build the business and buy any more houses. I would be embarrassed that I couldn’t keep those properties for our tenants.

Finding Freedom to Choose
Those are valid fears, and no one wants to succumb to any of them. But the exercise gave me perspective. The farther I went with it, the more I began to understand what is of core value to me, and what exactly I could live without. Then I saw something new. I realized, with my new perspective, I’m not afraid of those things ultimately. I’m resourceful and resilient. If they happen, they won’t be the end of my family and me. And that gave me new energy. I thought, “I really want to keep those properties. I want to make better choices and get creative.” It filled my creativity tank to help me generate whatever I would need, to keep what I could, and cut loose what I couldn’t.

The point of the inward spiral is to go into it fully so that we can find choice. If we feel into the worst, we’ll find freedom in letting that ultimate fear go. Sometimes choosing freely means we’re willing to let the properties go. Sometimes the choice is we want to keep them. But going into the spiral means you get to choose. That’s 100 percent more productive and freeing than staying paralyzed by fear.

Originally published on Green Sherpa