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:
- Surface the emotion.
- Name it.
- Experience it fully – where do you feel it in your body?
- Accept it as a part of being human.
- Ask yourself “What’s possible from here?”
- 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.
Earlier this year I wrote about what it took to say yes to writing a book. Well the day has arrived when that book is actually published! I have let go of many fears – that I have nothing to say, that I can’t write, that I will expose myself too much, that no one is interested in this topic and, in particular, that people might think bosses already have too much power … why should we forgive them?
Much like letting go of fear, forgiveness helps you let go of pain, suffering and angst.
It doesn’t mean you agree with or condone someone’s behavior. It just lets you get your life back.
If there is someone occupying space in your head and you’re tired of carrying that negative energy around, you may find my book, How to Forgive Your Boss (or anyone who has done you wrong), a useful read. And for those in Victoria on December 1, please join me at the book launch.
And watch this space for more as I will be sharing tidbits from the book in future blogs.
“But I have no time,” is something I hear myself and my clients often say in relation to expressed desires about what we’d rather be doing. What I have learned from my 30-day blogging challenge is that by not prioritizing our creativity and making time for it, we just drift through our weeks, and one day jumbles into the next.
When we make time, however, things come together, they fall into place, we complete puzzles. And, according to Amabile and Kramer of The Progress Principle, engagement relates to our ability to see progress everyday.
For people who work on complex, long term projects with lots of moving pieces, doing something tangible every day that nurtures you and your creativity is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have.
When it comes to building or rebuilding trust, there comes a point when someone needs to have the courage to go first, let down their guard and defense mechanisms and be vulnerable. Revealing what is REALLY happening for us creates the opening for trust to be built.
We often get asked “why should I go first?” Because if you don’t, your world becomes smaller and smaller and the one who suffers is you.
For anyone engaged in or facilitating transformative learning, let’s not fear those tears. They can mean anything and, in my experience, are often relief from carrying around things that no longer work. Create a sacred space for them instead of trying to force them to stay hidden.
I base today’s blog foremost on my own ongoing struggle with perfectionism, as well as watching other perfectionists. While I know intellectually that perfectionism has a negative impact on me, putting that insight into practice still eludes me at times, particularly when I’m stressed.
I will spend hours creating something and then dishonour it by picking it apart, under the guise of “learning” or “striving for excellence.” It’s not either of those in actuality, just a well worn pattern that doesn’t serve me well.
Fortunately I have two people close to me who are endlessly cheerleading for me, and I am inching my way forward. If you struggle like me, find those people who “love the blue” in you and listen to them. Today give that perfectionism a rest and celebrate whatever you have created!
As leaders we do need to look after ourselves and I know many who make a visit to the spa with girlfriends a regular self-care ritual, myself included. (Not to overly stereotype but in my experience more women than men do this.)
When one of my clients said to me that the spa just wasn’t cutting it anymore, I took real notice. In the conversation that followed she explained her desire to take stock of her life, and bring some new energy and insight to it.
This takes courage and reminds me how important it is to make time for inner personal development work. The spa, while a temporary reprieve, just doesn’t really cut it when your soul is yearning.
I’ve observed and personally experienced different approaches to loss over the years. Whether it is personal or professional, minor or devastating, it seems that those who consistently “numb” (whatever that might be – working, drinking, dwelling, exercising too much, etc) seem to get stuck, often regress and sometimes even bring about their own death, metaphorically and physically.
Those who engage in learning reinvent themselves, often creating meaningful legacies around their particular loss or just finding new meaning and energy in their lives.
Some would say that without loss there is no growth or movement, that it’s actually necessary in order to create or bring about something new. As I reflect on my life, I agree. Our challenge it seems is to know when to stop circling the drain and get on with reinventing ourselves.
My creativity has developed as I’ve unlearned various lifetime “shoulds” impressed upon me by well meaning people. The Kelleys in their brilliant work on creative confidence talk about the need to overcome 4 fears – being judged, losing control, the messy unknown and taking the first step. I have turned these into positive mantras that I try to practice when I’m doing my work. The most powerful one for me has been to ignore everyone. I was taught to base my decisions and actions on what other people might think – unlearning that has taken most of my life (and is still a work in progress).
For those of you intrigued by these ideas, check out the course Dave and I are teaching online this fall through Royal Roads University. We are thrilled to be able to explore this topic with others!
“I could have done that,” I’ve heard many people say, myself included. Indeed we could but we don’t. Elizabeth Gilbert in her wonderful new book Big Magic suggests that ideas swirl around looking for someone to take notice and bring them to life. The problem is we aren’t paying attention. As she says
The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps for a few years), but when it finally realizes that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else. But sometimes – rarely, but magnificently – there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something. Your defenses might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then magic can slip through.
Will your idea find you or will you be too distracted or anxious to notice?