In my inbox this morning I received a newsletter from Wayne Dyer that led with the following story:
“I was made aware of a 61-year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who was placed in jail for 2-weeks because she couldn’t afford to pay for a parking fine. She was placed in thousands of dollars of debt and put in debtor’s prison because she could not pay. She was locked away in a cell built for twelve people, although it was overflowing with thirty-six.
Almost all of the incarcerated with her were there for minor infractions and fees that kept accumulating, taking them from their jobs and their families to make their poor circumstance of struggle even more difficult. Children being placed under the care of others because their only guardians had to leave them behind to serve imprisonment for minor infractions, all while accumulating more debt and being placed into circumstances of greater loss”
Debtor’s prison? Wasn’t that outlawed hundreds of years ago? Apparently not because I just did a minute’s worth of Googling to find a whole host of horror stories showing that there are local practices in the United States that create the equivalent of debtor’s prison. This website is but one of many demonstrating the huge inequalities the down-and-out face.
As a single mother who faced horrendous challenges simply getting a relatively straightforward family court case through the North Carolina court system and who most certainly came out with the short end of the stick, I understand all too well the labyrinth of financial horrors that include back-taxes stemming from misconduct of the ex-spouse, bankruptcy due to misconduct stemming from ex-spouse, loss of home due to same and, tragically, loss of custody due to financial hardship (and a substantial unwillingness to drag the kids through even more hardship).
Don’t problems like these, to the already overwhelmed single parent, seem too huge to even try to fix on a personal level, much less a societal level? I certainly have felt that way!
As it so happened, not five minutes before I opened my email, I opened a package that contained a box of Power Thought Cards by Louise Hay that I was going to give to a dear friend who has helped me out tremendously over the last couple of years. So, as I was reading the outrageous story about the poor woman in Alabama, the Power Thought Cards were sitting on my desk in my peripheral vision.
As timing would have it, instead of getting outraged to the point of tears and anger over a horrific example of the unjust underbelly of our apple pie society, I took a moment to consider the fact that there is another way to approach this. Tears and anger are a great momentary reminder of what needs to change. And the outrage necessary to change laws may work, slowly and over time, to effect change. Yet, is there something more powerful?
How about calling on the power of positivity (in some circles known as prayer)? Below are some suggestions on how YOU can overcome any downward rollercoaster ride of your own and how you can begin to change the world around you:
1. Start Small: Realize the only power you have is the power of your own thinking combined with the power of your own actions. When I boil it down this way, I feel more empowered. I can work with my thoughts and my actions. That seems manageable enough. I don’t need to focus on what others think and do. I begin with myself.
2. Voting: Many Americans have a set of negative beliefs about the power of their vote. But who does this serve? Doesn’t a negative set of beliefs about the power of your vote only continue to place power into the wrong hands?
National laws often have more press coverage than many smaller local laws and practices. Who benefits if I feel too overwhelmed to pay attention to local elections? Possibly not me. So how do I change my sense of overwhelm about paying attention to local elections? Yes, you guessed it (or possibly you didn’tJ). Affirmations!
Something like, “My vote, however small, DOES make a difference,” and, “Every time I pay attention to a local news story about elections and local laws, my awareness on these matters is powerful, in and of itself. Awareness matters,” and, “I forgive myself and release guilt and anxiety over the fact that I have ignored local laws and local elections.
I can always choose to pay attention at any time and anytime I DO pay attention and get myself to the voting booth, I am empowering myself plus I should pat myself on the back for this and realize what a huge step this is. In fact, this may call for champagne…”
3. Visualize and Pray: The power of prayer is so powerful that even the scientific community will pay attention to it. And the most powerful prayers contain an inherent belief that the prayer has already been answered. That’s the faith part. So, prayer plus faith equals miracles—even tiny ones that we don’t see, necessarily.
So, in the context of the societal realities that push the down-and-out even further down, a positive visualization or faith-based prayer would go something like this, “I am grateful that my situation can heal, no matter what,” or “I am grateful that the situation of those in debtor’s prison may heal no matter their current reality.”
Picture the situation as healed. Picture those imprisoned for parking fines as released and living happily. We take the situation (i.e. unproductive imprisonment that pushes people further into poverty or your own unjust situation that is imprisoning you in some way) and we add the hope by creating a hopeful vision to solve it.
We don’t need to know HOW to solve it, because that is where people begin to feel disempowered and overwhelmed, but we do need to see the hope and resolution of the problem as clearly as possible. And, yes, you will be battling with and overcoming parts of your brain that want to say, “This will never change, no matter what I do.” Once again, if you can get yourself to clearly envision happy solutions not only to your personal fears and problems but to your fears about societal problems and “the way things work,” then it’s time for a celebration honoring this fact. Take a bubble bath and relax after accomplishing this feat.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of The Butterfly Effect, yes? It’s the idea that the tiny motion of a butterfly’s wings will integrate with other forces to eventually cause something large to happen, perhaps far way. Even contrarian opinions around this concept ultimately argue its veracity.
So, remember the smallest changes you make in your way of thinking (and the small action that follow), over time, can completely change your life—and the world. We may not know how it will happen, but we have faith and believe our small changes and prayers will make a difference. We are not powerless.
More from DivorcedMoms
- Is Positive Thinking An Opiate Of The People?
- 5 Ways To Detox Your Negative Thoughts
- Brave Enough To Spot a New Attitude