The statement “pick up your tent” suggests the importance of recognizing and pursuing change. Although people believe that they can remain in a certain state of mind long-term, this is not always the case. Change is going to happen regardless of anyone’s propensity, inclination, and maybe predisposition to stop moving forward.
Even when you are in a place of instability and/or stagnation, your mind wanders about the possibilities of somewhere else. You still think about how to get yourself out of where you are because something inside of you knows that where you are is not the only place you could be.
You may believe that it is your only option for the moment or season, but your heart is never truly satisfied living in nothingness, guiding your everyday life walk using an unsound ideology, or allowing too many distractions to snuff out the dream that roams around in your head and heart.
It is always possible to die a failure, to die without fulfilling your purpose on this earth, and never to discover your life calling and/or assignment. You can stay in one place in your mind, heart, and spirit never reaching out for better.
Many people also do not understand that you can die a tragedy, and people who usually die a tragedy missed or failed to honor an instruction that was necessary for the next journey. Remember that people may come into our lives for a reason, a season, and/or for a lifetime. It is important to recognize who that person is, what purpose he or she will fulfill, and how best to execute whatever goal that falls under that purpose.
What happens with people, however, is that they always think they have all the time in the world to complete a life task, to pursue a dream, to use their gifts, and to fulfill a calling. All life is on a timer, a rhythm, and what you do with your time does matter.
Think about the analogy of a train or a city bus. The train has a schedule it must keep. It cannot wait for you simply because you are not feeling well and/or because you think the train should just wait for you. If the train does not meet its schedule, it runs the risk of preventing the people ahead on upcoming routes from getting to their destinations . . . on time. You must align your time with a higher time. You must align your authority with a higher authority. In other words, you must conform.
Conformity is not something people like to accept because they feel they have the right to choose whether they conform or not conform, and they feel that the time they spend not conforming should be their prerogative. Life should just wait on them. By extension, people should just wait on them.
The problem with this logic is that there are consequences for every decision and that just because you can exercise your prerogative to wait does not mean that the people around you think the same way. Some people like to be on time. Some people like to do things the right way. Some people need the predictability of stability. Some people need stable shelter, stable finances, stable logic and reasoning, and/or a stable belief system. Some people cannot live in a tent forever.
Herein lies the problem with people who think that living in the tent is more favorable than doing the work to obtain stable shelter, whether that represents as an apartment, a fixed trailer, or a house. Regardless, the dictates of the house opposes the temporary provisions of the tent.
With a tent, you do not own the land. You do not have any rights other than relocating the tent. You cannot leverage the tent as an asset. You cannot live safely in the tent and expect to be productive and successful.
Although these ideas are true, this article is not about a literal tent. The tent within this discussion is used here figuratively to highlight those areas in our thinking that reflect a tent. In other words, this article provides categories of tents we create, live in, maintain, and perpetuate throughout multiple areas of our lives.
For example, financial instability, which is the first category of discussion, is a tent we live in. We have pitched a tent in financial unsoundness with no desire to exit it into better thinking about how to manage money and finances. We expect the tent, which is temporary in nature, to serve us permanently. The way out of both a physical and metaphorical tent is to embrace the stages of change, which ends the discussion in this article.
Sustaining Financial Instability
Financial instability is one of those areas of life that we struggle to overcome because the struggle involves mastering the domain of finances. We do not often possess or think we need to master our finances. We take life as it is and hang on for dear life when we are faced with an issue.
But all life is based on finances. We may live on the bartering system during some times in our life, and this strategy may be useful for initiating, building, and sustaining relationships. However, bartering cannot last forever because people need money to engage and sustain their engagement in society. We cannot always visit our next door neighbor and ask for some sugar, or some milk, or some eggs. At some point the neighbor who keeps asking for everyday items will eventually deplete you of those same items. You need what you have just as much as the next person.
Therefore, understanding the role of finances is important, but understanding the behavior behind finances is equally important. It is not enough that you look at the role of money as being a significant factor in life more than looking at why you continue to lose money every month. Think about these questions:
- Why do you not have the necessary emergency savings fund?
- Why isn’t creating an emergency savings fund a requirement?
- Why do we struggle to make managing our finances central to everyday living?
These are merely three questions that suggest more about thinking ahead than thinking in the present. There are some people who think ahead. For example, there were some people who were not affected by the recent financial recession or the pandemic. These people do not have to be rich.
They can be people who simply had assets that they could leverage. They have a one-year, two-year, and/or three-year savings fund. They had a thrift savings plan, investments, and/or any financial instrument that could carry them through a financial trouble. They understood the impact of financial instability and how best to create prevention measures through saving. You do not have to be rich to be financially prepared.
Therefore, if you are still struggling financially, and you have been circling the arena of financial instability, then it is time that you pick up your tent. This means that you must assess how you created the tent of financial instability, which is a type of setback, and design strategies to exit that tent, which is a type of overcoming.
For example, if you struggle to pay your credit cards every month, depending on the number of credit cards you may have, it might be best simply to work with one to three (1 to 3) credit cards than to possess five to 10. You might also need to change your thinking about the quantity of credit cards to focus on your ability to pay the full balance of each card every month.
If you can only faithfully achieve that goal with two (2) credit cards, then pay down and pay off the other cards and stick with the two. This way you will not have running and high balances, you will maintain a habit of paying the full balance of your credit cards at the end of the month, and you will be better able to assess whether dealing with any credit cards at all is feasible for the current season in your life.
In other words, if paying off credit cards at the end of the month is bothersome, then you just may not be made for credit card use. It may not be something that challenges and encourages you, and you may need to keep one (1) so you can maintain your credit score than to engage the credit card market only to feel stressed at the end of each month when the credit card bill comes due.
Not everyone is built for credit card use. Some people truly like to pay their bills at the end of the month, and they do not like to have running balances or debt of any kind. Some people like to pay strictly with cash. Some people value a mortgage loan as having good debt, and that is enough for them. Some people would rather have investments.
You have to determine what works for you, but living in the tent of financial instability will push you into the arena of asking for milk, bread, and any other food item just because you did not plan. The milk and bread turns into asking someone if you can come stay with them for awhile because you were evicted from your apartment. The milk and bread could turn into asking someone to cosign an apartment for you because you have messed up with other apartments. Lastly, the milk and bread could represent the payday or title loans you have to apply for because you do not have your rent for the next month.
These are examples of financial instability that need better resolution before you can go on to greater life battles surrounding finances. Get out of the tent of financial instability.
Ignoring instruction is not something I have consistent practice with, but it is something with which I have some familiarity. We all ignore instruction one way or the other because we do not have an understanding that instruction may come in many forms. It may come as a direct instruction, as in someone telling you what to do. It may come as a warning, as in someone telling you not to do something.
There is intuition, something we often ignore and also regret because we did not accept or receive it at the time. Then there is foresight, a kind of second eye into the future of something, understanding that it is a kind of warning we should consider. Ignoring instruction, again, comes in different forms, and we must tune our hearts and minds to discern when something is for us to recognize and heed.
All life comes by instruction. The day and time you are birthed is by instruction. Your everyday moments are by instruction. Your experiences with schooling are by instruction. The day you leave your parents’ house(s) is by instruction. All life is by instruction, and once you receive instruction, you are responsible for carrying it out. That could mean the teacher assigning math homework and telling all of you students to “show your work.”
If you do not show your work for each math moment, you may fail that assignment. If you apply this principle to your life assignment, God is the great teacher. He is the one who assigns you to a person, a place, or a people. You do not operate alone and apart from divine instruction, even if you attempt to do so and find success in some areas of your life.
Just because you can be successful in one area does not mean that you are a true success in life because if you know your assignment, your calling, and you do not embrace and/or perform it, then that means you are a failure. If you are a failure, that further means that you have been living in perpetual setback. To get out of setback, you must accept and apply instruction.
Herein lies the dilemma.
People generally do not want to work through the process of receiving instruction to get out of setback because it requires waiting and patience and some longsuffering. The most obvious thing about instruction is connected to academics. Return to the mathematics instruction example that requires you to show all your work. If you fail to do this for each assignment and/or test, and you subsequently fail the course, then that very same instruction is down the road waiting on you to pass it. In other words, whatever instructions you failed to pass in one season of your life will be waiting on you somewhere in your future.
You could decide to drop out of school and get your GED. The GED tests only require you to mark an answer and not show all your work directly on the test. That could be your reality, but when you get to a job that requires you to show your work, i.e., show the boss how you arrived at the conclusion, you cannot just quit that job because you feel the boss is challenging you. No, that’s the job. You must show your work. Showing your work demonstrates your ability and skill at problem-solving, which is the purpose of employment and/or running your own business.
Therefore, you never get away from instruction because the way in which you drive on the streets is filled with instruction. When you are stopped by the police, there is instruction. When you enter a supermarket, there are signs of instruction everywhere. You cannot ignore Aisle 1 or the cashier line. You cannot do what you want to do because you must submit to a higher authority. If you do not, then there are built-in consequences that you must address before you can go on to greater battles.
The built-in consequences may be known or unknown to you. If you find that you and all of us, in general, have done a certain thing that went against the law (instruction), then we all know what the consequences are for that action because the consequences are common and standardized enough for us to understand, self-correct, and move forward. But then there are some consequences to your actions that you will not know what they are until you experience them. This is why following instruction is important because instruction guards against those consequences.
Instruction helps to protect you and whatever you hold dear. In other words, you can keep what you have when you follow instruction, but if you disregard and dishonor instruction, you will lose what you have. It is really that simple. This means that you should guard your heart and your mind because out of the heart flows the issues of life. Your heart can lie to you, and you can lie to your heart.
You can tell yourself every day that things will change in a relationship, your finances will improve without you making any real effort to ensure that it happens, or that you can get through this life emotionally setting everyone straight, but all those things would be a lie. You must live life mentally and emotionally stable for the tasks head, or if you are not emotionally stable, you must learn strategies for how to navigate this life. Mental instability would require that you seek the professional services of a counselor. Regardless, you will need instruction to put you on and to keep you on the right path for your life.
If you struggle with instruction, and you have no desire to change your strategies or adopt a different way of working through life, then you are in an emotional, psychological, spiritual, and possibly a financial tent. The only way out of that tent is with instruction. You need a hand to pull you out, and that hand is instruction.
Maintaining a Fixed Mindset
You will never be able to achieve anything with a fixed mindset, which is simply defined as the belief your talent and intelligence is fixed and cannot be developed over time. This belief shapes your decision-making, your choices in relationships and career, and your attitude towards life in general.
If you do not see your ability to change and think differently about a topic or an idea, then this will be reflected in your lack of ability to do and think differently about a topic or an idea. The fixed mindset you bear and perpetuate has great implications for your present and your future.
A person with a fixed mindset does not see a future. The person may make it to their future, but he or she did not plan enough in their past to expect a future. The person does not see beyond his or her present circumstances to envision life differently. This is a problem because how you see yourself determines who you will become.
Kids who play doctor envision themselves as becoming a doctor. They may not always have the wherewithal to know and understand what they are doing, but they are practicing in their present for what they will become in their future. They do not practice a fixed mindset. Something inside of them knows that becoming a doctor is a possibility.
It isn’t until the person grows up and someone says to him or her that becoming a doctor is an impossibility that fixed mindset enters the consciousness and is projected onto the individual. Your mind is suggesting one thing to you, but the person standing before you is saying something that opposes your sensibilities. The person is suggesting that the vision you hold in your head is not possible and should not apply to you. In other words, who are you to want to do better, be better, and reach for better? The person believes that should not be your prerogative.
But it is never a person’s right to tell you what you can and cannot become. It is your right to discover your gifts, talents, life assignment, and purpose on this earth. That means that not only must you address your own fixed mindset in certain areas, as in suggesting that this course is too hard for you to pass on your journey to becoming a doctor or this teacher is too mean, but also you must address the fixed mindset of the person suggesting that you cannot pass this course or the teacher is being too mean to you.
The person who is projecting their fixed mindset onto you is dangerous because the person is not even willing to feel encouraged by your dreams, your goals, and/or your plans. There is nothing in the person to light the metaphorical fire inside of their own belly to move forward. There is nothing in their eyes that cares enough to listen. Instead, the person is discouraged by your gift, talents, and dreams. He or she is offended that you know your gifts and talents and that you are pursuing your dreams. He or she is offended at the work required to pursue a dream and to use the talent and gifts consistently and responsibly.
The person is offended at the idea of not only believing your way out of your tent, but also doing something about it. People are capable of thinking differently and maybe following up that thinking with action. However, people struggle with the capacity of thinking differently, which means moving themselves out of a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is defined as the belief that intelligence can be developed over time. As you fail, you also believe that you can grow from failure. Failure is not the end goal. It is not the end of your life. You believe that there is more to life than one seasonal issue. However, you also believe that you must do the work to sustain the growth mindset. Otherwise, you could slip back into a fixed mindset without even knowing it.
You must address the tent of a fixed mindset because a collection of fixed mindsets over time might lead to stagnation. To be stagnant is to not move forward or advance. Living in this type of tent will keep you from moving forward into greater battles that still need your attention.
In other words, you have allowed the current battle to take up so much of your time that it has affected your insight and your view of overcoming life’s little setbacks. A setback should always be temporary. It should never be permanent. However, if you live with a fixed mindset, you arguably live, dress, and furnish a setback.
Managing Chronic Homelessness
Chronic homelessness is the last category I want to address for this blog article. It is obvious that if you are homeless, you are in a setback. The other obvious goal would be to overcome the setback. Homelessness can be temporary, as in your need for temporary shelter, or episodic, as in your experiences with bouts of homelessness, or chronic, which suggests long-term.
Everyone has had to sleep on somebody’s couch at one time or another. Some adult individuals have had to move in with their parents. I was one such adult. I had to move in with my parents during the recent financial recession because I lost my job and I couldn’t find sustainable work. I ended up doing some freelance writing to make some money and then returned to work outside of my parent’s house in 2013. I had struggles during that time due to family conflict, which led me to entering multiple homeless shelters multiple times between 2009 and 2013.
It was a hard time, but I knew I had to keep before me the goal of overcoming my current situation even before I had a clue about what overcoming setback meant. It was because of those struggles that I was able to write the books under the Favors brand, and I will continue to write more books on rebounding, setback, overcoming setback, and financial and life recovery. It is a continued writing and business goal of mine. Therefore, the keyword is “goal.” To move out of stagnancy you must create realistic goals.
Chronic homelessness is the ultimate tent. I never had to live in a tent, per se, but I did sleep outside at one point in my homeless journey. Regardless, the best way to understand chronic homelessness is to arguably connect it to a psychology concept called “learned helplessness,” which is defined as the behavior you exhibit after enduring repeated aversive stimuli beyond your control.
For example, if you repeatedly experience a stressful situation, and you feel you are unable to control or change the situation, then you are likely to give up on resolving that issue. Learned helplessness leads to avoiding challenges and failing to execute problem-solving strategies. Learned helplessness leads to a fixed mindset. Here is a quick video that is part of a larger social psychology series I conducted and is still ongoing. It is briefly on the concept of learned homelessness. Feel free to research the concept further for more information.
Symptoms of learned helplessness include low self-esteem, passivity, frustration, lack of effort, and giving up. According to the psychology research, it is a serious psychiatric condition that requires cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Discussion of CBT is beyond the scope of this article and may be explored in a future article. It is important, however, to note that CBT addresses depression and anxiety in the person struggling with learned helplessness.
This means that encouraging an individual to address their anxiety might help him or her to focus on developing their abilities and not on the feelings engendered from working the abilities. In other words, work the ability in the moment, even if you feel like procrastinating, instead of focusing on the anxiety you feel that leads to procrastinating.
Every task you undertake has a component that makes you feel anxious and that makes you feel inadequate about completing the task, but focusing on those feelings only prolongs task completion. Many have used the phrase “do it afraid” because there still must be someone to complete the task. If you are the person divinely developed to complete it, it is better that you work on your courage to get the job done.
The opposite of learned helplessness, thus, is “self-efficacy,” the belief in one’s innate ability to achieve one’s goals. Everything you do and who you are begins with your belief in you, yourself, and what you can accomplish.
Address your tent of chronic homelessness, if this applies to you. Definitely address your tent of learned helplessness because it is something that we may all struggle with or have struggled with before, maybe not to an extreme, but we have said to ourselves about a difficult task, “I can’t do this,” and we even said this without fully trying. Many more “I can’t do this,” and you have a collection of averted tasks that will turn into stagnation and further develop in you a state of learned helplessness. While you are picking up the tent of chronic homelessness, pick up the tent of learned helplessness too.
Envisioning change will require that you understand change is possible. To pick up your tent is to say you want change and that you are willing to endure the stages of change as explored in this last section. Change begins with you, your mind, your body, your heart, your spirit, and your finances. Because finances permeate every aspect of our lives, it will be necessary to have some clue about how to use your finances to move yourself out of setback and into a level of life recovery.
The first step towards change begins with the first step towards change. Think about this idea as you review the stages of change. The definitions are summarized but subject to Fair Use; the tips in bold and content that follows are added to point you in a direction. You can access the source information here.
Stage #1: Precontemplation
Precontemplation is the first stage of change. It is defined based on the intent of the person who does not pursue change. The person is unaware of their problematic behavior and emphasizes the cons of changing behavior.
Be mindful of changing problematic behavior. Look at the pros of change. Living in your tent is not a pro of change. It is a con, and once you understand that it is embracing abnormal behavior, this will help you to begin the precontemplation process.
Stage #2: Contemplation
Contemplation is the second stage of change. People recognize their problematic behavior and give more thoughtful consideration to change. They weigh the pros and cons, placing emphasis on both. However, they are ambivalent towards change.
Work on your mixed feelings about change. Assess the contradictions you feel. Think about the contradictions you feel about living in your tent and how it has had an impact on your life. Think about the time you have spent living in your tent and how it has affected your overall mood and temperament. At some point, you have to turn that ambivalence into a focus towards change.
Stage #3: Preparation
Preparation is the third stage of change. People are ready to take action within the next 30 days. They start taking small steps toward changing the behavior. They believe that change contributes to a healthy life.
The action you take must be realistic. Do not overwhelm yourself with the steps you need to take. Just take it step by step. When you envision change, it can be overwhelming because you realize just how much you have to overcome and do. The most important thing you have to consider is the first step that is needed to get you out of the tent. Remember that instruction is that extended hand needed to usher you out of the tent. The instruction you receive is the instruction you need to take the first step.
Stage #4: Action
Action is the fourth stage of change. There is recent change in the person’s behavior (within the last six months). There is intent to keep moving forward with the behavior change. People are willing to modify their problem behavior and acquire new healthy behaviors.
Modification is not a bad thing. A picture of action is to walk out of the tent and leave it behind. You must envision yourself walking and continually walking until you have separated yourself from your tent. The more and longer you walk forward, your tent should not be in view, and you should make it a habit not to always look backward because it can affect how you see the world before you. There are people who live in the present and prepare for the future. Therefore, envision yourself doing the same.
Stage #5: Maintenance
Maintenance is the fifth stage of change. People have been able to sustain their behavior change for more than six months. Going forward, they intend to maintain the behavior change. They take steps to prevent relapse.
Relapse is always possible. Guarding your mind and heart during change is key to ensuring you do not relapse. Think of anything you believe as important to maintain. When you live in your tent, you maintain the area, you keep things clean, and you limit who can come into your tent. Well, when you leave the tent, use the same three strategies. This will help you maintain boundaries, set realistic expectations, and continue to sustain living outside of the tent that is no longer “your tent.”
Stage #6: Termination
Termination is the sixth stage of change. People do not have a desire to return to the problematic behavior. They do not plan for relapse. However, keep in mind that termination is rarely reached and is often not considered in health promotion programs.
Termination is still possible. No problematic behavior should keep you bound. If you have struggled with chronic homelessness and/or financial instability the greater part of your life, you must understand that it is a problematic behavior that needs an expiration date.
The alternative would be you die in your tent, you die in your setback, you die in your literal tent, you die financially broke and broken, and you die without instruction out of your tent. It is time to terminate living in tents to embrace new understanding, new knowledge, and new wisdom.
Thank you for reading.
Regina Y. Favors, Owner/Operator
Regina Y. Favors Website
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