Four Energetic Postures for Facing Economic Uncertainty

articles by nick leadership power recession the future of work Oct 19, 2022
Energetic Postures when facing uncertainty

What Are the Energetic Postures We Can Experience in a Recession?

If perception informs behavior just as much as reality, what does that tell us about how we are responding to the prospects of a recession? The truth is, even the possibility of a recession is going to inspire many of us to change our behaviors. 

Marketers take this opportunity to start sharing insights on how to sell during a recession or how you and your business can become “recession-proof”. Before you begin to scramble, consider which posture you want to stand in.

Here are four energetic postures to reflect on as you track the signals of a recession in your circles and better understand how it's impacting your energy in each:


Posture #1: The Mouse - Sprinting to the nearest hideaway.

  • Aggressively reduce, eliminate or postpone spending
  • Highly attuned to detail
  • Dominated by fear and anxiety
  • Closes you off to opportunity

With big eyes and ears, the mouse posture allows you to detect danger by being highly attuned to details.  We can enter this posture when we feel most vulnerable and expect to be hit hardest. In one way your preparedness to aggressively reduce, eliminate, or postpone costs will serve you, and in other ways, it may cause you to lose sight of the other things besides money that matter most to you in life. You will tuck away into your nest, resourcefully stretching each grain of rice as far as possible until conditions improve. This posture is most dominated by fear and anxiety (like many prey animals). The fear and anxiety may be real and may be imagined. If you have past trauma around money, beware of the over-correction this posture can bring. Inactivity can lead to boredom and deprives us of seeing the truth that the world holds many opportunities.


Posture #2: The Turtle - Retracting into the shield of your shell.

  • Driven by patience and longevity
  • Feeling secure right where you are while still pulling in spending
  • May close you off to change or transition that can work to your benefit

To assume the turtle's posture is to assume a posture of longevity. It is a quiet way of appreciating the world and life's cycles. While still feeling the pain of recession-like events, in this posture you are more resilient and optimistic about the long-term. You decide you can figure things out from exactly where you are. In the near-term, you still want to shore up the ways you feel exposed. You trust the wisdom of slowing things down. You might consider re-evaluating your standard of living and start reducing spending in more patient and measured ways than in Posture #1. While this posture increases a feeling of safety, it also can leave us trying too hard to stay where we are. Inwardly, we might become too focused on what we lack or cannot reach. Outwardly, it can close us off from others. An unexpected layoff or loss of income that is destabilizing can be the difference between being here versus being more in a mouse posture. 


Posture #3: The Elephant - Accepting your flourishing while honoring others on their journey.

  • You are less affected by the recession for various reasons
  • Your spending continues as usual, though less conspicuous
  • More open to opportunities and possibilities because of the stability you have
  • Savings and jobs feel steady and secure
  • Risk being disconnected from the broader community (and how you might serve) if too inwardly focused

In this posture, your household's financial needs are mostly met. You likely feel grounded, safe, and secure. While you know you are entering hard times, the great capacity you have to remember and connect keeps you in touch with all the resources you have and need. Because of the relative abundance you have access to you can navigate this recession with curiosity about what might be possible that wasn't before. You have a comfortable amount of savings set aside, those working in your household feel their jobs are secure, and you continue to spend as you normally would have with one exception. You are deeply sensitive to the lives of others. Your large feet help you feel the vibrations in the earth that tell you others are being affected by the recession in different and more difficult ways than you are. If you are spending, you're likely doing it less conspicuously. If you are able, you are finding ways to be there for others.


Posture #4: The Opposum and the Wolverine - who says f&%k it!

  • You crave freedom and value your intuition, resourcefulness, and adaptability
  • Rather than planning too far ahead, you are working to steady yourself for when shocks come
  • Your spending continues as usual, and may even become indulgent in ways that start to harm your overall health
  • Living for the moment helps you feel free but can lead to "giving up" on your possibilities for tomorrow

This is a carpe diem and an "I'll deal with the hard times as they come" sort of posture. The Opossum and the Wolverine are both tricksters. Known for its fearlessness in the number of venomous snakes it attacks, the posture of the Opposum is one of managing your nerves to get out of difficult situations. Born blind, the Opposum must trust its intuition from the very beginning of its life. While you might feel blind to what is to come, you have an inner resolve to trust your instinct as difficulty shows up. The more you can master your reactions to this moment, the more you can discern exactly what is needed at a given time. In this posture, your inner resolve is what you meet the impending storm with.

Persistent and brave, Wolverine is known for its tenacity to survive in even the harshest environments. Where the Opposum plays dead, the Wolverine is a vicious fighter that will never surrender or back down. The Wolverine's ferociousness extends too to its appetite. Without clear intentions for the persistence and fearlessness that Wolverine brings, you may find yourself overindulging in things at the expense of your health. Both the Opposum and Wolverine postures can be a form of "giving up" not wanting to hold the anxiety of what tomorrow will bring. Try to embrace the strength this posture brings without forgetting that the best is yet to come. 

In ways Posture #4 can be a sign of immaturity, not having had many financial hardships in the past may make it hard to worry about something that might affect you. In other ways, you might adopt this posture because you have thick skin from enduring hard financial times your entire life. The patterns necessary to adapt to times when money is tight are woven into your body already and so you take this opportunity to claim more, not less, freedom. In exchange for hard-learned lessons, this posture brings with it the wisdom of adaptability through hardship.

What combinations of each of these postures are you noticing in yourself? In your network? Are you slowing down your spending? Maybe cutting back on that daily coffee habit? Maybe figuring out who you can borrow a password for a streaming service from? The behaviors triggered in you can be bigger too: putting off making renovations on the house, deciding to stay in an awful job for the security it offers, or making a big life pivot and deciding to go back to school.


Whom will you become as you navigate the next recession?

Recessions are fundamentally a transition. They represent that which needs to end as much as they represent that which can possibly be. William Bridges in his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes says:

Transition always start with an ending. To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now; and to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old.

As you fine-tune your sensing I invite you to consider not just what needs to end but also to sense what might possibly begin in this new reality. 

If you want support as you navigate these moments, here are some ways Wayfinding can be there for you:

  • Consider reading other pieces in this series on Power & Recessions
  • Enroll in your latest self-paced offering Power at Work to learn tools, techniques, and strategies to navigate your power in life and at work
  • Explore 1:1 coaching with members of the Wayfinding Team


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