I love this article by Elizabeth Su titled Your stress is not a trophy. The very first thing she touches on is family rules. Every family has it's own set of rules and reasons for doing things. What we grow up with we tend to think of as normal. Example: My Mom took care of all of the financials, paying bills, depositing income, debt management, providing allowances to herself and my Dad. I thought this was normal and how all families operated until I go older.
Ms. Su mentions how in her family being stressed was a sign that you are working hard and working at your potential. This is a great example of a family rule. Family rules are important and can serve an important purpose. I know in my family there were very legitimate and important reasons why multiple generations of woman on both sides controlled the finances. And I am sure there are important reasons why Ms. Su's family valued being stressed. However when your goal is personal self development you need to look at family rules and ask yourself if they are still working for your betterment or is the rule actually harming you?
Take stress. There can be a sense of pride in being stressed. I use to feel like Wonder Woman when I running nonstop and taking care of everything and being a superstar. But I was stressed out and my health was suffering. However as exhausted and drained as I eventually got I can still remember the highs I received for accomplishing some work project. That stress high can be addictive. Also being stressed is away to avoid feelings which at the time was another positive, or so I thought.
If you find yourself stressed out ask yourself what is driving the stress? Is it a family rule or are you avoiding some feelings. Maybe you think being stressed is the only option. If that is the case I would challenge you to dig a little deeper. Long term chronic stress is not sustainable and leads to serious health problems. So if you think chronic stress is unavoidable then it is time to re-think life and your priorities. Life doesn't have to be stress for all the the time.
I believe work should be a safe and encouraging place. As adults we spend the majority of our time in the workplace and I feel workplaces should be a source of good in the world by creating a safe place for personal development and actually encourage personal development as this leads to better companies, higher profits, better products, healthier employees and so on. However that often isn't the case and Michael Schneider sums this up in his new opinion piece in Inc.com titled Insecurity Keeps Most Employees Quiet During Team Meetings.
Mr. Schneider talks about how the lack of lack psychological safety, group think, and a push for conformity keeps people quite during meetings. His best line is people "will internalize conflicting ideas to ensure they don't ruffle any feathers or stand out." Standing out at work isn't safe! Right? And yet innovation, performance, success only happens when we strive and stand out.Companies are preventing their own success when they are not actively creating cultures that are free of group think.
To create and sustain a culture shift requires everyone in management from the highest level down to be on board.
It starts with mangers realizing that leadership/management isn't about having people follow your ideas. It about asking questions and getting everyone involved and facilitating their involvement.
No one what's to be a micro manger. Right? Its exhausting to have to "think" for everyone on your team and tell them all what to do all the time. Not only is it exhausting for the manger its also very stressful on the subordinate. Its just an overall toxic relationship and situation. When mangers learn that their job is to create an environment where others can step up and thrive things will improve for everyone. Including customers!
Mr. Schneider's has some good suggestions if you are interested in this type of stuff. The one thing I will add is that whenever we are dealing with groups which are 3 or more people keep the following terms in mind: Forming, Norming, Storming and Preforming.
Forming is when a group comes together and everytime someone leaves or someone joins a group it is a new group and goes back to the forming stage.
Norming is when a group gets into a rhythm and habits of how it operates. Most groups reach this stage and stay here. Its an OK place to be.
Storming is critical. This is when a group learns that it can handle upset and conflict and disagreement and yet still function together. This is where a group can talk about behaviour of team members. Where members can disagree with management. When a group can fight but then hug it out you have something special. Its like a broken bone. I have heard that if you break a bone when it mends it is stronger. Storming is like that. However many people fear conflict. Especially mangers who might see conflict as an indication they are a bad manger they will work to suppress and prevent any storming. But storming is critical to success. It's impossible to agree with someone all the time. Its also impossible to always suppress your upset with someone. In healthy relationships we can tell people when we are upset. They listen and respond and we work it out and move on. That's storming. If a manager suppresses storming then issues never get resolved.
Performing is what every company wants for every team! And we get to performing by moving through storming. When you have team members that are free to counter each other. Share new ideas. Challenge management. Go back to the drawing board. Question each other. Share freely with no fear of reprisal then the magic starts to happen.
The next time you are leading a meeting and no one is saying anything ask yourself what you can be doing to help make this environment safer for everyone.
I recently read an article titled Inside Russia’s Shady Seduction Schools, Where Desperate Women Learn How to Lure Rich Men which is interesting on many levels. But what I found partially interesting was the message Russian women are raised with which that their happiness is dependent on finding a husband and having a family. Its the message that happiness comes from obtaining something external. When reading this article is easy to see this message and see the predictable outcome. Spoiler alert... many of these women did not find happiness after securing a husband.
Its not about being married or not married. Its not about having kids or not having its. Its this idea that happiness is something we can obtain from outside ourselves. When I get that job promotion I will be happy. When I can afford my dream home I will be happy. When I can buy my dream car I will be happy. When I can take my dream vacation I will be happy. When my kids graduate from university I will be happy. When I have grand-kids I will be happy. I could on and on with all the external things people look for happiness in.
The only way to find happiness is by looking inwards. No one can be happy all the time. We are suppose to experience all emotions. And like Riley learned in Inside Out sometimes we can even feel two emotions at the same time. In my own life my nieces recently moved to New Brunswick. I am sad and I am miss them but I am also happy for my sister and her family as they are much happier living in a small and affordable community.
If you are looking for happiness externally it will be hard to find and if you find it that happiness will be short lived. Finding happiness inside is like finding a true renewal resource. Once you find it will always be there. It may get low but you can always refill your internal well of happiness.
To find inner happiness you need to figure out what is blocking. What fears, anxieties, mistaken beliefs are preventing you from experiencing happiness? You can also ask yourself how do you view the world. If the world is an unsafe and dangerous place it is going to be hard to find happiness. If you view the world as friendly it will be easier to find happiness.
The other week on a Friday night I got a small mason jar stuck in the cup holder of my couch. I was tried and I just wanted to drink a glass of wine and watch a show. I ended up having to take my couch apart (each seat section connects to each other). I had to turn the centre console upside down. All the junk I store in the centre hatch fell out. It was a mess. It was a lot of work. I could have been angry and upset and frustrated and mad (mainly at myself for getting the jar stuck). Instead I choose to look at the positive. I got the junk sorted and cleaned up which never would have happened otherwise and I got a nice workout in lifting the furniture. Because I view the world as friendly world it is easier to roll with the unexpected challenges in life.
The question is what comes first happiness on the inside and therefore it is easier to belief in a friendly universe. Or the belief in a friendly universe that then leads to finding inner happiness. The truth is its a bit of both. When we take a small step towards either it helps us to find the other.
If you aren't sure what is getting in your way of finding happiness then a first step you can take is asking for help. Its hard to figure out this stuff on our own.
I recently read an article on www.theladder.com called Here’s why you’re never too old to make new friends by Caroline Zielinski and posted on October 25, 2019.
In this article Ms. Zielinski talks about the importance of friendships and how loneliness is a more serious health risk than smoking.
Growing up I struggled to make friends. I still do. It doesn't come naturally to me. I'm scared of the rejection. Which is something the author talks about in the article. I became a counselor after seeking help and support for my own issues. Prior to counselling the idea of putting myself out there was too big of a risk. It was safer to just stay home, alone and lonely then to risk the rejection. Even know as a counselor with a well developed sense of self and no longer living in a constant state of fear and anxiety over being rejected I am still hesitant to make the overture. To reach out and suggest to a potential new friend that we hang out. If she says no what does that mean about me.
The truth it doesn't mean anything about me unless I make it mean something. If she says no, I could make that mean there is something wrong with me, Or I could make that mean she isn't interest or available or maybe she is too scared, Who knows. I don't know what her no means.
Luckily I am choosing to over come my fears. Last week I reached out to twice to a new friend and both times she said yes and the result was I got out of the house and got to enjoy her company, have some great conversations and do something new.
If you are struggling to make new friends it might be time to ask yourself if you are scared of rejection and if you are making that rejection mean something about you then it's time to take a look at the belief and explore where it is coming from.
I love information. I love to read articles and to learn more. On this blog I will be sharing articles I find insightful and helpful with regards to stress, anxiety, loneliness and other related feelings. Occasionally I might even right an article myself. I hope you find these posts helpful.