Fortnight of Transition, Day 1: Overcoming Learned Helplessness

2

September 9, 2020-

A fortnight is a period of two weeks. There are about that many days until the September Equinox (Autumnal/Vernal). In this time, I wish to look at several themes that have impacted or are impacting my life and those around me.

As I edge closer to retirement and to making my own determination, as to which activities to which I devote time and energy, I have had to begin to find positive and helpful ways to address those who come to me with outstretched hands. Deflecting requests for money is easy enough. I have to budget what I have, in the way of financial resources, so as to both support myself and to fulfill some plans which I feel I have earned.

Time and energy are more problematic. No one can, in good conscience, refuse the legitimate requests for assistance with finding resources that come, sometimes randomly, from those who believe themselves to be at the end of their ropes. If one agrees to offer limited assistance, and uses the Internet to connect start-ups with potential benefactors, the result is usually win-win-and does not end up being a time and energy pit.

The key is to use the correct search terms, so as to not waste time on dead ends. For example, in linking an entrepreneur, in one of several African countries, to an entity that can provide seed money grants, the best search term is “Organizations that help marginalized communities in Africa”. I used this yesterday, and was able to forward a link to three appreciative entrepreneurs, who have imagined themselves to be in dire straits.

My message to such entrepreneurs is this: You have the skills and intelligence to make your dreams happen. Europeans and North Americans have done a bad job, in many cases, of giving the impression that our resources can lift all boats. That is seldom true, on an individual basis. It is by pooling resources, while simultaneously reminding the individuals seeking assistance that they can and should establish their own contacts with helpful organizations, that the most meaningful change can happen.

I am always glad to guide people to the proper resources, but I will no encourage and foster the sense of helplessness that only drags down both entrepreneur and advocate.

The Way of the Network

9

October 30, 2019-

A few days ago, I received a rather terse e-mail from a sometime mentor, to the effect that, if I was not going to support her business activities, then it was “Goodbye”. Throughout my life, I have rarely written anyone off, and even then, not permanently.  I don’t get the sense that this woman is permanently off my radar screen. That is simply not how business works.

Jordan Peterson’s third rule for living is “Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart.”   In childhood, and to some extent in adolescence, I had little choice but to learn to deal with both those who were well-wishers and those who I viewed as challengers, rather than as ill-wishers.  This stemmed from my conviction, even as a child, that we are all just feeling our way in life.  I observed how kids who came across as mean were treated by their own parents.  That made dealing with bullies a lot easier, and made reconciliation, later in life, a fait accompli.

Those whose view of me, and of themselves, is pointed upward are plentiful in number, at this stage of my life. Of course, we must hold each other accountable, as well as being one another’s advocates and cheering sections.  An enabler is not much more than a sugar-coated toxin.

Those whose view of life is pointed downward are, thankfully, rare in my life and it is indeed my job to keep it that way.  The most potentially  problematic, yet easiest to control, is the friendships on social media.  I am judicious about blocking and deleting anyone, with only those who have been hurtful in a big way, or over time, getting the boot.  Accepting online friendships is more of a judgment call, with any hint that a person is not being transparent about their identity, and/or reasons for being on my network, being a red flag.  Beggars, trolls and boastful people have generally not found welcome on these sites.

That said, those who genuinely need, and appreciate, help will always find a place here.  Peterson’s rule does not eschew kindliness and fellowship, nor does my code of living.