What Are You Hiding?

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One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious. Carl Jung

“What most concerns you about the upcoming team session?” I asked one of my clients. I had been hired by the manager to help the team rebuild trust after a rather messy and complicated situation left many deeply hurt.

“That things will get really emotional and end up being worse.”

“That’s a pretty normal response,” I replied, “but surfacing those emotions in a healthy way will lead to healing and transformation for the team.” 

My client looked skeptical but knew that not doing anything was no longer an option as people were avoiding each other and the morale was in the tank. 

Dealing with those dark emotions we go to great lengths to hide is indeed uncomfortable. But hiding them leaves us depressed, anxious and stuck (and perhaps broke, overweight and alcoholic, depending upon what you do to keep them hidden!) 

The next time you find yourself hiding from a dark emotion, take a moment, breathe, and:

  1. Surface the emotion.
  2. Name it.
  3. Experience it fully – where do you feel it in your body?
  4. Accept it as a part of being human.
  5. Ask yourself “What’s possible from here?”
  6. Consider developing a mantra, like the one I developed in the image above to help you move into those dark emotions.

A big thanks to Lisa Sonora whose 30 day journal challenge led to me developing this mantra and blog.

Transforming dark emotions is at the heart of my book, How to Forgive Your Boss. Visit the website and you can download the first chapter free.

Antidote to Cynicism

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We had just spent two days with a very diverse group of participants facilitating a Future Search process and had asked for closing comments. I was struck by two of them:

“I am excited by what we have created and feel hope for our future.”

“If you all follow through on the projects we identified, things might change.”  

The second comment struck me as somewhat cynical and it got me thinking about what distinguishes hope from cynicism. As I reflected on how these two people had participated in the two days and thought about other situations, four themes emerged:

Own your part – Hopeful people own their role in situations, both the good and the bad, and don’t look to others to “fix things.” Cynical people only own the good, are oblivious to the bad, and expect others to “fix things” for them.

Assume good intent – Hopeful people trust that others are doing the best they can, while cynical people assume others are out to make their lives miserable.

Accept reality – Hopeful people don’t sugarcoat or assume doom and gloom, they accept current circumstances and don’t wish they were different. Cynical people are always searching for some perfect condition that is different from the current one.

Give – Hopeful people give their time, energy and resources to others without condition. Cynical people wait for others to give to them.

As we approach the holiday season, are you hopeful or cynical? Which of these four areas might hold insight for you?

Take a Break from the Backpack

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Today’s blog is inspired by a recent book, The Best Advice in Six Words, an inspiring and provocative book full of advice from famous and not so famous authors. 

The holiday season can be full of unpleasant memories, high expectations and emotional stress. Take a break from that backpack.

Embrace what is possible from there. (Second 6 word advice 😉

Waiting for I’m Sorry

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In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) work environment, the potential for pain can be high despite the best intentions of good leaders and the actions of misguided or unprepared leaders. Stuff happens, it’s not addressed and people start to carry around a heavy load of pain and frustration.

For me the way through that is an inner journey of forgiveness which sets us free and is completely in our control. Forgiveness is a choice to recognize that those who have hurt us are human, they make mistakes, and that hanging onto our anger and sense of “what’s fair” just keeps us stuck.

Reconciliation, while powerful, is a nice to have but because it involves communication between people is messy and complicated. Often it’s simply not possible because one party isn’t willing to do so. And if you reconcile without forgiveness you live in anticipation of the next “hurt”, an uneasy and fragile space to occupy.

Waiting for an I’m sorry or for someone to hold the offender accountable, or to reconcile with someone who’s not willing or able sucks the life out of us. Forgiveness, while indeed challenging, breathes life into us. 

And it is a choice we can make at any time.