When you’re navigating the turbulent emotional waters of a divorce, the death of a best friend, the loss of a job, a forced relocation, or any other major lifetime challenge, how do you stay sane and productive?
The answer sounds simple. Keep your focus on what’s working in your life. However, implementing it is not always easy.
From December 2006 through December 2010, when I fled Panama, I was trying to build a home in Boquete, Panama. The builders kept the architectural plans off site and had no onsite supervision.
They hand mixed the foundation concrete. When tested by the local university, the strength of the foundations was insufficient to support the house.
There was a light pole in the middle of the driveway and a wall where the picture window was supposed to be. The plumber pumped soapy water through the water lines and threw his tools across the yard whenever anyone suggested there might be a better way of doing things.
They built the septic tank too high so that the capacity was 20 to 40 percent. When they tested the water lines, the gauge went down 40 psi in three days.
They said it was the temperature and humidity. My inspector said, “Are you kidding?”
Finally, after 21 months of making mistakes and fixing them, they walked off the job in a tirade of fury and refused to finish the house. Oh, by the way, did I mention that they had forced me to use them in the first place?
Their next ploy was to demand $40,000 if I wanted to finish the house with another contractor. Excuse me! Did I hear that right?
Turning to the Panamanian no-recourse legal system was a waste of time and money. Lawyers are expensive, witnesses can be bribed, judges can be paid off, and getting a decision can take years. The decision is invariably against the foreigner.
How did I stay sane through all this and survive one of the most disastrous mistakes I have ever made? I simply put it out of my mind and focused on the good things in my life.
It was far easier said than done. It took a lot of working with my own mind.
Every time I thought about my dream home turned nightmare, I was livid. I had to consider the possibility that I would have to walk away from a $300,000 investment and let it rot. For yet another time in my life, I had trusted people who didn’t deserve my trust.
Yet, I couldn’t help but notice what my anger was doing to my body. When I focused on the rotting house, I couldn’t sleep. My energy was blocked. I kept banging into a stone wall with no solutions and no support. I had to let go, not because the builders deserved it, but because I needed to retain my own sanity.
My book Shift had become an Amazon Best Seller. It was being translated into Bulgarian, Russian, and Indonesian. It was being distributed in India. The Russian translation alone had sold almost 2,000 copies in its first six months.
I was negotiating distributorship agreements with North American and United Kingdom distributors. Radio and television interviews were pouring in.
Workshops were bringing participants exciting new insights that suddenly turned their lives around. I simply made a conscious choice to focus on all these good things.
I’ve been a member of MasterMind groups for years. Every two weeks, all MasterMind partners exchange templates. The first section of the template is “My Successes.” When I write these down, I remind myself of all the good things in my life and all the things I’ve accomplished. There simply is no room left for discouragement.