Some of you may already know the parable of the two housebuilders.
The wise builder built his house on rock while the foolish one built his on sand. All seemed fine a for a while and both houses stood tall and strong. Then bad weather came in the form of wild winds and rivers of rain. The land flooded as wind and rain battered both houses. The one built on rock stood firm. The one built on sand collapsed and fell because its foundations weren’t strong and stable.
It’s perhaps pretty easy to identify the metaphor in this story: if you build your life on strong foundations you’ll be able to withstand whatever life throws at you; whereas if you build it on weak foundations, when the going gets tough you’re in danger of collapsing.
What does it actually mean to build your life on strong foundations though? You might take this to mean that it’s about getting a good education, holding down a good job and having money in the bank. Yet that’s not it. In the parable, those things might have been some of the bricks used to build the house, but they weren’t the foundations.
When it comes to house building, foundations are critical – as the parable so ably illustrates. Foundations aren’t visible in the finished building, so think of them as the hidden strength that keeps the structure standing, the weight evenly distributed and the footing firm.
Our personal foundations also aren’t visible to the eye either and, like building foundations, they’re critical to keeping us standing.
Withstanding the Storms of Life
So, what are our personal foundations?
Well, they’re made up of our core values and beliefs about what’s important. They’re not to be confused with things like a good job, an expensive car or money in the bank. These might be things we want or need, but they’re not the core values by which we live our lives. A core value is something more abstract, for example, integrity, freedom or personal responsibility, and a core belief could be, everyone deserves to be treated with respect; bullying is wrong; or rules are OK to bend if to apply them would be unjust. Our beliefs come from our values.
When we know exactly what our values are AND we live by them, we’ve created firm foundations that will help us when we’re battered by the storms of life.
Where we run into problems is when we’re either not clear on our values or we know what they are but find ourselves behaving in a way that isn’t congruent with them. If you believe that bullying is wrong, yet you stand by and do nothing while someone is being bullied, you’re at odds with your values and your foundations start to weaken. This weakening process can be so minimal that you don’t notice it, or it can deal you a massive blow.
Conversely, every time you act in accordance with your values, it’s as if you’ve strengthened your foundations by adding a buttress. In other words, the more true to yourself you are, the stronger you become.
Another aspect to this is purpose, i.e. why the building was created. Just as we might ask ourselves ‘why is this building here’, so we might also ask ourselves ‘why am I here’? When we know our purpose and we act to fulfil it, combined with staying true to our values, our house is built to withstand the ravages of stormy weather time and time again.
Shifting Your Perspective
Many of you may feel that you’ve been through big storms and floods recently with the downturn in the economy, life in lockdown, anxiety about loved ones, money worries, lack of work and so on. You may be asking yourself ‘how much more can I take’?
Sometimes in life we need to shift our perspective. That might mean asking ourselves the same question in a different way or asking ourselves a different question.
If the question ‘how much more can I take?’ is running through your head right now, let me ask you a different one. If you’ve withstood all of this and are staying true to your values, how much more can you achieve?
Now is the time to focus on looking ahead. You’ve already learned how strong your foundations are, so you know anything you do now is founded in rock, just like the wise builder’s house.
This is a perfect time to think about creating (or building!) new things, developing or adapting to new circumstances and using your inner strength to shine out like a beacon for others to see.
You can harness the resourcefulness you’ve already displayed to create a new present and future for you and your loved ones. What we knew as normal is unlikely to ever return. We may recapture aspects of it; however, nothing ever stands still, our world has changed irrevocably. We’ll continue to develop and adapt to new ways of working and living. It’s likely that some changes will be accelerated because of how we’ve had to live over the past few months. Do you think that online meetings and training would have developed quite so fast if it hadn’t been for lockdown?
Thriving in Difficult Times
Let these six steps be your guide to thriving in difficult times:
Accept your situation
This doesn’t mean giving up and giving in. It means accepting the things you can’t change and changing the things you can.
Identify goals that align with your purpose and values, goals that will move you forward
Keep moving forward
Look back only to learn, otherwise keep yourself focused on making step by step progress towards the goals you’ve set.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions about what you want to achieve
Look deep within you for the answers, be honest and candid with yourself. That way you stay true to your values
Remember how strong you are and what you’ve already withstood.
Remember to take time to appreciate yourself and all that you have.
It’s time to look forward with an open heart and a mind that’s open to possibilities. The winds of change are blowing through our lives at a rate of knots. Are you ready to withstand them? For those of you standing on rock, the answer is most likely yes. For those on sand
If you’d like help to strengthen and shore up your foundations, take the first step, book a discovery call to see how NLP, Hypnosis or Time Line Therapy(R) can help you?