“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
— Eckhart Tolle
Meet Tim. Tim earned his own way through a prominent university in California. He graduated top of his class with a Masters in Business Administration. He quickly found work at a world-renowned company conducting market analysis. During his time with the company, he climbed the ladder, earning one promotion after another. After seventeen years with this company (which Tim was more familiar with than his own home), he came to work one day to find he’d been laid off.
During these times of economic change, many people find themselves in this very situation. Maybe your place wasn’t so “high up” on the ladder, maybe you were a store-clerk or janitor…but the fall certainly hurt just the same.
I decided to write this blog because so many of my friends are finding themselves in the same place Tim has found himself, and I am noticing a disturbing trend. Almost the first thing that happens to a person after they lose their job is: weight-gain, depression, and often times addiction.
I could give you a lame rundown on the trends, rattle off some cute little quick-fixes for the problem, and imitate some ridiculous mainstream magazine article. But I am not going to. As a personal fitness trainer, I don’t JUST care about your body. It is our job to treat you as a whole person. That is why this article covers not only the physical aspect of difficult/depressing times, but also the mental and spiritual aspects as well.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
— Eckhart Tolle
I am going to begin by giving you a spiritual perspective on this first.
In life, from very early on, we as humans begin to identify ourselves with thoughts, form, and words. “Oh, Tim, you are such a good little boy.” “Tim, you are such a naughty boy!” We find out that we like flowers and so we identify as, let’s say…someone who likes flowers. We collect items that further define us, things that temporarily make us feel complete: a new car, a better house, a bedspread. So we have effectively identified who we are using the opinion of others (what they think about you collectively), form (such as items or physical appearance), and as words (such as good, friendly, sneaky, manipulative). By the time most people have a career, they have endured a good twenty or thirty years of this kind of mind-identification.
The career or job becomes another form of identification. Not only are you a dentist, but you are the breadwinner of the family. You are responsible. You pay taxes. You are trustworthy, people like you, you earn what you deserve. People become so wrapped up in defining themselves through their paycheck, belongings, and titles, that when they lose these things they have essentially lost themselves.
But have they really? Show me someone who has lost their job, and that very day disappeared into thin air with their family and friends looking on. It doesn’t happen, and it never will. This is because as a human being, you may let your mind, thoughts, and emotions tell you that you ARE these things that you have done, but it is not your true essence. This is something that is so difficult for people to grasp. In losing a job, many people then lose their homes, belongings, and dignity. It seems like it couldn’t get any worst! They begin to punish themselves with overeating, numbing the pain with television or various addictions. The real problem is NOT the loss of the job, the home, or the belongings. The real problem is that these people are still looking outside of themselves to find something that will make them feel complete.
It’s not up to me to make you see how nothing outside of yourself can make you complete. This is something that you must approach on your own. I can however point to some facts for you.
1. No relationship with another human-being is ever perfect. Why do so many fail, and why are the successful ones still so difficult? Because we approach a relationship as making us whole, it’s the utilization of another human-being to make us complete. BUT ultimately, other people will fail to meet your needs consistently, and discord will ensue. They cannot make you whole.
2. Do you remember when you were a teenager and you just had to have that new gadget because it would make you so cool? Where is it now? Did it make you complete and ultimately define you? What about your house? Your car? Did those things create lasting fulfillment and prevent all other pain and suffering from entering your life?
3. If you became afflicted with amnesia, wandered far away from your home where no one knew you, and had no memory or sense of your previous/past identity, would you still be you (the same essence), or would your true essence have faded away along with your man-given identity? All food for thought.
Now for the physical perspective.
Overeating, withdrawing from life or becoming addicted as means of punishing yourself is as indignant as throwing a man in jail for life for supposed crimes without ever giving him a trial, jury, or defense. You have judged and condemned yourself for PERCEIVED failures that are neither true or lasting.
Finding yourself at a time of crisis such as becoming unemployed may seem like a terrible loss, but that would only be your mind judging the situation. Often times when terrible things happen, it becomes a platform for change. Donald Trump declared bankruptcy many times. Eckhart Tolle was homeless on a park bench for years. They, however, did not define themselves by these moments, and moved on to create almost unimaginable riches of different kinds for themselves and others. I say use the free time you have just overturned to start life on a new foot.
What better way to start your life again than to get your body back? To regain your health? To devote lost time to yourself, invest in your future, and put the past to rest?
Maybe now is not the best time to try to pay for a trainer. All the better to utilize your skills at uncovering resources.
1. Start with Craigslist. It’s a great place to find super cheap or free work-out equipment. Even an old set of dumbbells or a weight-bench is very helpful! You can also put up a post of your own looking for a work-out buddy, someone who lives nearby who would like to join you on runs. Maybe they even have some weights?
2. Think about trade! Our little business loves to trade! A few of our clients have paid us exclusively through trade: hair styling, farmer’s market produce/honey/bread, and massage! If you have nothing better to do, work out a trade arrangement with a locally owned gym, or a trainer. Maybe you can house-sit, do taxes, clean, complete car or home repairs, web-design, anything. You would be surprised at how receptive people are for trade.
3. Air is free…and it’s a good thing because you need lots of it. Take this down time to find the beautiful places you missed seeing before. Make it a goal to run before sunrise, after sunset, through a field, around an orchard…etc. Getting out there and raising your heart-rate is healing to the body and the spirit. It is a FREE gift, use it!
4. Start a garden. The best way to begin nurturing yourself is to start with nurturing something else. When I started my little plants inside, they were like my babies. I fretted over them and studied up on plants and just became obsessed all around. The love and attention I gave them came back to me times ten, and each evening I can take fresh veggies from my garden straight to my table. This is my connection to the earth, and the things that are truly more important than my mind-derived sense of self. Not to mention growing your own garden has been shown to reduce grocery bills by up to 30%! Just think of how much better you would be eating when you had your own produce section on your patio.
5. Surf the web. I know tons of great sites for people who are trying to get support and help for free during the first phase of their fitness program. I am even a member on several of these sites. Nothing feels better to know that people out there watch your progress, interact with you and offer support and advice. Here is one of my very favorite sites, and again…it is free.
After all that, I hope that whether you are unemployed, depressed, feeling incomplete, or finding yourself in whatever current life has washed ashore, you gained some understanding for who and what you truly are, beyond the mind. I want to offer you all this amazing clip below. If you are interested in learning more, this man has been an amazing teacher to many. I have had the great pleasure of working with him and benefiting from his amazing teachings.