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Gary Moore: The positive aftermath of the Great Recession

September 20, 2018

Like a raging forest fire, destroying every living thing in its path, the Great Recession — that began exactly 10 years ago — was similar.

At the beginning of the explosive financial inferno of 2008, I was CEO of a company that had struggled but was beginning to flourish. The worldwide crash that struck without warning quickly consumed my business and thousands like it across the globe and left financial and emotional devastation in its wake.

Dec. 8, 2008, was my day of realization that my life, as I had lived it, now was over. On that day, I had an employee meeting and openly wept as I told the faithful crew it now was over, and we were forced to close our doors.

In retrospect, it remains a sad and hurtful memory, but as I look around at my life today, and the lives of many of the devoted associates I was forced to let go, I realize the aftermath of tragedy solely is based upon our ability to remain optimistic and continue to move forward. Many have not only survived but thrived.

Like the spring after the burning rampage of a forest fire, beautiful meadows emerge. New life in the form of vivid and beautiful colors rise from the scorched earth, and the ash of devastation is washed away by the rains and serve as a natural fertilizer for new growth.

When tragedy and loss strike, we are faced with two choices. We can become victims of the event that has forced unwanted change in our life or we can seize the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and move forward with hope and optimism for a better future. We can choose to live as a victim of our circumstances or decide to move forward and rebuild our lives. It truly is a choice.

Tragedy strikes us all. Sometimes it comes in the form of a natural disaster or economic calamity. At other times it is personal loss of your dream job or the end of a marriage. None are exempt from the hurts of the world. None of us live a full life without sadness, loss or failure. It’s all part of the human experience. As the old saying goes, it’s not how many times you get knocked down. It’s how many times you can get up that counts. It is easy to say that recovery is a choice, and it is, but what are the steps we must take to move on?

Deepak Chopra teaches that after tragedy, our brain needs time to heal. There will be grief. Trying to bury it is never healthy. It is important to be around those who love and support you to help you through the ordeal. Being alone during the darkest moments of your life is dangerous. Seek out the comfort of those who care about you.

Deepak also shares that dwelling on the negative images of our loss delays healing. For me, being around others helps in keeping the negative memories of my loss at bay. Do not retreat from life after tragedy, re-engage.

Psychology Today lists six helpful strategies to recover from trauma, loss and change.

1. Reach out for support. Do not try to bear your trauma alone.

2. Sit quietly and reflect. Think about past traumas in your life and how you navigated through them. Past experiences can serve you well.

3. Trust your inner resources. When you realize that you survived other traumas, trust yourself to get through this one.

4. Learn to keep yourself centered through the unbearable feelings of grief. Breathe, slow deep breaths.

5. Start imagining a new life. Imagine and invent an exciting future.

6. Practice mindfulness. While doing meditative types of exercises and walks in nature remember that, like nature itself, loss is cyclical like the seasons.

For me, No. 6 is time in prayer. Arlene and I often take prayer walks where we pray out loud about our life, our future, our children, our friends and whatever comes to mind. As we pass strangers in our path, we’ll often pray for their health and happiness. For me, there is nothing more healing than the power of prayer. Praying for others always helps me deal with my problems more easily.

I’ll never forget the devastation to my life and the global economy of 2008. I never want to forget, as it taught me invaluable lessons and the change of path brought me to where I am today. I realize that in the greatest losses of my life, my greatest lessons emerge.

As I have said here before, “When half of the world is immersed in darkness, the other half is bathed in beautiful sunlight. The world continues to turn, and the darkness never stays.”

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