How Can We Have Faith When Things Don’t Look Good In The Moment?

Businessman jumping

A few months ago, I spoke to an old friend named Ben who has been struggling with his business.  He owns a computer consulting firm and has lost many of his big clients over the last year to bigger consulting firms.  He must have told me at least ten times how the computer consulting business has changed.  He then told me he is a dinosaur in his industry and is just waiting for the month that he can’t pay his rent. No matter what I asked or suggested to him about pursuing new opportunities or technologies, there was a reason he gave me that it would not work out.   After speaking for thirty minutes, Ben said to me, “I wish I could have more faith that things will work out but I don’t.”

Ben has definitely encountered some bumps in the road the past year and is seeing his lack of success today as foretelling the worst for his future.  All of his past experience has created a belief that things won’t change and will likely keep getting worse.  How can Ben find hope and opportunity when he has no faith and his beliefs are filled with doom and gloom?

Often our beliefs offer us a path to certainty about our future. Our beliefs make assumptions about what tomorrow will look like, how it will feel and what it will mean for our lives. Faith, on the other hand, doesn’t create our reality according to our fears and desires.  It doesn’t decide how we are going to see a particular situation, but instead gives us the ability to move forward in our lives without judging the future and offers us the opportunity to embrace the unknown.  Often people tell us to just have faith that a situation will work out but we can’t find it in that moment because our past experiences are haunting us and the future is scaring us.  We cling to our fear and worries of “what will be” instead of letting go and embracing uncertainty.  As much as many of us would like to have faith, it is a road that can be difficult to travel.

But the good news is that when we lack faith the idea of Maybe can really help us.  Maybe is a connector between belief and faith. Those who have faith may have no use for Maybe, but for those of us who get stuck when circumstances seem dire or we don’t know what to expect or do next, Maybe provides us comfort.  Maybe enables us to question our beliefs (e.g., Maybe our beliefs are not true? Maybe something else will happen? Maybe this is good? Maybe things can get better? Maybe everything is okay?), and open our hearts to allow us to experience space and light in the midst of a crisis. In a way, Maybe creates a kind of “cognitive” faith that can help us get us through an unexpected situation.  And if we work to continuously experience this open space of Maybe, we will start to embrace the unknown as the unfolding of all possibilities.

With this in mind, Ben and I have been playing around with the idea of Maybe to try to alleviate some of his stress and negativity. Ben has been trying to admit that Maybe things will work out, Maybe he will get some new business, Maybe he can branch out into new technologies, or Maybe everything is okay right now and he will figure the rest out in time. The idea of Maybe is so effective for Ben because it continuously offers him more than that one possibility that was keeping him up at night and filling his mind with the fear that his business would fail. As Ben realized through Maybe that there are infinite possibilities ahead even though he can’t see them yet, he was able to relax at times and stay open to whatever life has to offer in his future.

I spoke to Ben yesterday and he has landed a few new doctors’ offices as small clients over the past few months.  He was so busy looking at getting large corporate clients he never considered that many smaller professional offices have many technology needs that he could service.  It is more work for him because he has more small clients instead of a few big ones but he is content that money is coming in and there is hope on the horizon.

Who knows, Maybe this experience will lead Ben to have some faith after all?  Just, Maybe!

Having Faith in Maybe

Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.

 Mahatma Gandhi

A few months ago my friend Joe lost his job as a marketing consultant.  The minute he lost his job he started to panic that all of his savings would be depleted and he wouldn’t be able to support his young family.  For two weeks he suffered through sleepless nights, worrying that he’d be unemployed for a long time.  He became very anxious.  It just so happened that on day 14 Joe got a short-term consulting job and he started to work while still looking for long-term employment.  Every week he’d say that the consulting job was ending – and yet it kept getting extended.  Joe was so concentrated on when the short-term job would end, that he never stopped to consider that he was working and actually making a little more money than he had before.  A few weeks ago he swore the job was ending on Friday and sure enough it got extended again for another month.  And then Joe told himself the story that imminent doom was only postponed for a short time.

Joe says his wife tells him all the time that he should have a little more faith that things will all work out. But Joe clings to his belief that because he can’t know what tomorrow will bring he can’t feel safe and secure. He perceives the uncertainty of the situation to foretell only the worst.  So what does Joe’s wife exactly mean when she tells him to have faith and how is that different from Joe’s belief that trouble looms?  Sharon Saltsburg, a Buddhist teacher, says, “Beliefs try to make a known out of the unknown. They make presumptions about what is yet to come, how it will be, what it will mean, and how it will affect us. Faith, on the other hand, doesn’t carve out reality according to our preconceptions and desires. It doesn’t decide how we are going to perceive something but rather is the ability to move forward even without knowing. …. Belief clings, faith lets go.”

Having faith is often touted as the answer to our worries.  Yet the unknown scares many of us and we cling to our fears and worries instead of letting go and embracing uncertainty.  As much as many of us would like to have faith, it is a road that can be difficult to travel.

But the good news is that this is a situation where the idea of Maybe can really help someone like Joe. Maybe is an in-transit place from belief to faith. Those that have faith may have no use for Maybe, but for those of us who get stuck when circumstances seem dire or we don’t know what to do next, Maybe can come into our lives and comfort us.  Maybe leads us to take our beliefs and question them (e.g., Maybe our beliefs are not true? Maybe something else will happen? Maybe this is good? Maybe things can better?), and it can open our hearts and allow us to experience space and light in the midst of crisis. In a way, Maybe creates a kind of “cognitive” faith that can help us get us through an unexpected situation.  And if we work to continuously experience this open space of Maybe, we start to embrace the unknown as the unfolding of all possibilities.

With this in mind, Joe and I have been playing around with the idea of Maybe to try to alleviate some of his stress. Joe has been trying to admit that Maybe things will work out, Maybe he will get a new job, Maybe he will keep the current job or Maybe everything is okay right now and he will figure the rest out in time. The idea of Maybe is so effective for Joe because it continuously offers him more than that one possibility that was keeping him up at night. As Joe realized through Maybe that there are infinite possibilities ahead even though he can’t see them yet, he was able to relax at times and stay open to whatever life has to offer in his future.  Joe tells me he has good days and bad days with trying to stay in Maybe, but the days Maybe works he feels a freedom that he never felt before.

Who knows, Maybe this experience will lead Joe to have some faith after all?  Just, Maybe!

UPDATE:  THIS IS A BLOG POST FROM MAY.  I MET WITH JOE YESTERDAY AND HE IS STILL WORKING AT HIS TEMPORARY JOB AND IS MAKING MORE MONEY THIS YEAR THAN LAST.   HIS WIFE IS PREGNANT AND HE IS TRYING TO BUY A NEW HOME.  HE TOLD ME HE IS GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH HIS “TEMPORARY” STATUS AT THE COMPANY.  HE ASKED ME IF HE WAS DEVELOPING FAITH.  I ANSWERED, “MAYBE!”  

Emmy Nominated Actress, Aida Turturro, Interviews Allison Carmen About How To Use the Philosophy of Maybe in Business and Career

Please check out my NEW video with Emmy nominated actress, Aida Turturro.  Aida interviews me on how to use the Philosophy of Maybe in business.  It is an inspiring video that will help anyone who is struggling with the uncertainty of growing a business or pursuing a career.  Maybe is just one change of perspective, but Maybe it changes everything!!!

 

Our Children – “A Loving Heart is the Truest Wisdom.” Charles Dickens

I hope you enjoy my new video about parenting.

Let me know what you think!