Seeking in Times of Uncertainty

Edvard Munch Anxiety Uncertainty SEEK Safely

As we get ready to toast to Kirby on February 8th, here are some more thoughts about why SEEK’s message is important.

Uncertainty… and the Response

Have you noticed in a shift in the mood in the last few years? Not just your mood, more like our collective mood. All of us.

Political unrest, climate change, financial uncertainty… Big (and real) problems are weighing us down. We are constantly surrounded by depressing and disturbing news stories. To pay too much attention feels almost destructive. To ignore it feels irresponsible. As a result, we’re more stressed and anxious.

Uncertainty SEEK Safely

At the same time, we see more messaging about #selfcare, #selflove, simplifying our lives, treating ourselves. Think of trends like mindfulness and meditation, and hygge or Marie Kondo’s Konmari decluttering method. And more traditional self-help rhetoric about self-optimization or building a business has become savvier, more individualized.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence we see an increase in both of these things simultaneously. In uncertain times, we look for ways to protect ourselves from the distress that seems to be everywhere. When our financial futures seem uncertain, messages about building financial freedom or creating a business based on our own passions become very attractive.

Many of the responses to our increased anxiety are harmless, and maybe even beneficial. For example, I did the whole Konmari clean-out of my closet after I read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I must say, my mornings are easier now that I have fewer clothing options. Meditation is scientifically proven to have benefits. And hygge–the Danish practice of actively creating a relaxed, cozy atmosphere to enjoy time with your loved ones–I personally love this trend and happily light candles while busting out the board games with my kids. I can’t see going wrong with that.

SEEK Safely hygge

So What’s the Problem?

The danger is that our hunger for a break from this uncertainty creates an opportunity for the scammier operators in the self-help/self-improvement arena. What could happen? It might be as small as wasting $20 on a book that doesn’t deliver on its promises. It could be bigger, like wasting thousands on a seminar that doesn’t deliver on its promises. Or like getting bad advice from an unqualified life coach that leads you into damaging decisions, or scars you emotionally. Or like getting hurt at a self-help event that didn’t have proper risk management even while putting participants through dangerous physical challenges.

So what do we do?

First, breathe. When we’re feeling out of control in an out of control world, we need to take a moment to gather ourselves rather than getting swept up by those unsettled feelings. It’s important to keep our wits about us!

Next, don’t worry too much. I certainly don’t want to increase your anxiety! At SEEK, we really believe that protecting yourself when weeding through self-help resources isn’t complicated. It’s more a matter of being aware of the dangers and being proactive. If you are looking to take action for your well-being or self-improvement, look at your options carefully. Use our Red Flags Guide if you’re considering print, online, or in-person resources. Ask questions. Be sure a guru has the credentials to guide you with the techniques they use. And follow your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to that–those feelings are powerful!

How about You?

We’re curious about what you’re feeling these days. Have you sensed this collective anxiety? Do you share it? Is it inspiring you to seek more “self-care” or self-improvement? Let us know! Comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook discussion page!

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