This week’s Saturday Share goes to the blog at Elizabeth Dickinson’s website, Pursue Your Path.
Full disclosure. I have already read Elizabeth’s recently released book, The Concise Coaching Handbook: How to Coach Yourself and Others to Get Business Results. I posted my review on Amazon if you are interested in the topic, well worth the read. I also plan to do some coaching with her over the next few months as I launch my consulting venture. I have really been impressed with her career and accomplishments over the years that I have known her.
Elizabeth writes about many topics of interest to me, such as developing leadership on your team, and the fact that you are your own expert on your life. I really like her premise and her approach. If self-coaching or coaching others is of interest to you as well, I encourage you to check out her work.
I need to come clean on another addiction that I have. I am a recovering “food” addict. I no longer use food (very often) to buffer uncomfortable feelings. Occasionally, ice cream is my gateway drug though…
My other addiction? Self development books, self-help literature and courses from Udemy and Skillshare…and podcasts where I learn new things.
I have talked before about how some of us use “buffers” to avoid certain things in our lives, or to avoid feeling what we feel, dealing with reality. Terry Real, (a psychotherapist who has some wonderful books including The New Rules of Marriage) calls substances like alcohol or drugs “misery stabilizers.”
He explains that they can keep people miserable instead of turning to each other, staying engaged, and facing their issues. He explains ways that men and women typically avoid their lives or issues in a relationship and I want to directly quote his words here, because I saw myself in them.
“Men tend to use workaholism, substance abuse, risk taking, gambling, food, exercise, television, the Internet, and sexual compulsivity. Women tend toward love dependence through over-involvement with their children, food, prescription drug abuse, spending, exercise, “busy-ness addiction” and love dependence on a romantic adult.” ( bold emphasis mine)
When I first read about this, and considered my relationship to food, I realized I had been using food (and sometimes wine) as a misery stabilizer in my life and in my relationship. I was using it to avoid what I did not want to face, my truth about not living aligned with my purpose. At various times I have used the others I highlighted as well.
As I started seeing the ways I was avoiding uncomfortable conversations, I began to examine ways in which I inadvertently “learned” this behavior when I was young. My family is squeamish about conflict, to put it mildly. Well, we live in Minnesota… directness is not something we do well.
Do you know the expression “Minnesota nice“? It is not a compliment when someone uses this term. What it means is that someone is nice to your face, but they are actually thinking “You’re full of shit.” Or they will be nice in person, and then go gossip about you behind your back. Yikes.
We all have buffers, or misery stabilizers, that can keep us from diving right into an issue, facing our truth. They can keep us from having a difficult conversation, working on our budget, tracking our finances, dealing with the reality of our situation. We avoid and distract ourselves rather than “go there.”
I was doing it this for the last couple days with some of my “homework” for my WomenVenture class on Getting Ready. It is a pre-requisite for the Small Business Essentials class I will begin in September. We were asked to track all of our household expenses for 2 weeks. I was supposed to start last week, but I was on vacation with my sister, and I self-justified not doing it: “it’s an unusual week, and vacations are not a household expense.”
But really I was avoiding it because looking at the reality my spending habits can feel uncomfortable and annoying. I have saved for this sabbatical, and planned for this time off, but I don’t want to face the day-to-day “chore” of looking at my daily money habits. It feels “graspy” and stingy to me. I have an abundance mindset, and I know I can generate more where that came from… “Why should I have to track the “little” stuff?” my inner brat whines.
Anything we do not want to examine in our lives, however, is probably something worth studying. While I would rather watch Skillshare videos and read self-development books all day, the action of getting clear on my finances and on our money habits is something that will serve us in the long run.
I will put my self-development courses on pause, and start working on my 2-week budget tracking exercise. I resist committing to “Financial Fridays” but it may be good for me for a month or two… Ugh, not there yet. But let me know if you think airing my “dirty laundry” in this area would be helpful to you. I might be able to motivate myself to write about this if own misery is in service to a larger community. Lol.
Are there any things you “binge” on when you are avoiding an important task or conversation? What are your misery stabilizers?
P.S. If you are also a course addict and you want to try 2 months free of Skillshare, you can use this link to get started. I claim no responsibility for enabling your addiction if you suffer the same affliction. 😉
For the last couple of days I had the privilege to observe a “culture transformation” facilitation 2-day session with a colleague who is a professional consultant. It was an intense but productive couple of days. In my usual fashion, I am still processing internally the lessons I observed about the group and about myself.
This was unlike other sessions I have personally conducted, but many of the issues were similar. My goal was to learn as much as possible, be of help when I could to the facilitator, and consider how I may apply these lessons to my future work.
I realized during the process that I would have to lean into my discomfort, meeting 15 leaders of R&D and business cross-functional partners gathered for this meeting. Only 1 of the leaders was a woman, along with the admin and the HR director, and the rest were men. (With the facilitator and myself, there were 5 women total, less than a third of the room).
The first day I was a bit overwhelmed by it, actually. I pick up on the emotional states of others quite easily, and it felt like my empathy channels were flooded with input. By the end of the day, though I was invited to the happy hour and dinner that followed, I was desperately in need of a break from the action to quiet my mind. Fortunately I had this, about 40 minutes between others leaving the room, and joining them for the informal portion of that day’s events.
It reminded me of how I typically feel after attending one of my own team meetings where I am fully engaged and “on” the whole day. But since Latin America teams rarely re-convene before 7 or 8pm to have dinner, the break in between is typically longer. Usually that has meant I sacrifice sleep, since we return to the hotel around 11 and it takes me an hour or two to calm my jangled nervous system after all the people interaction.
As a morning person, I seldom sleep past 5am, so a 3-day meeting leaves me exhausted and depleted, even if it was a productive event. So I plan for this, and I ensure that before and after these meetings, I have plenty of solitude, writing time, meditation. I go on walks, do yoga, sit with my cat on my lap when possible, and allow for the impressions to seep and filter into consciousness.
Leaning into discomfort is possible because I know myself. I realize it does not indicate anything has gone wrong. These preferences may be hard-wired or habitual, and I am aware of when I must step into it. The observations of interactions between people fascinate me, and this particular group had a few real characters. The “lab” of human interaction is at play, and while it can be challenging, my curiosity typically redeems the discomfort involved.
I typically enjoy interactions 1:1 with people and in small groups, where I feel I am able to focus my sensory “data collection” if you will. I am curious about how my comfort level may evolve over time and with practice. Right now I am allowing for the learning, as challenging as it is, and being patient with my discomfort. It is all part of the growth process, and for that I am grateful.
It seems almost unbelievable to me, but this blog has motivated me to keep posting and creating on an almost daily basis since last fall. I had thought I would post 2-3 times a week originally, but as the fountain of ideas opened in my mind, sometimes I have had a hard time limiting myself to just one post per day…
Over time I have tried to be more concise, shorter and more focused. But now and then I cannot resist a longer piece when I need to really explain and explore my ideas. Fortunately there is room for all types of content on the web. Nobody forces us to read anything.
I want to thank all of you who have commented, liked and encouraged my writing. An unexpected bonus of this process has been finding a community of similarly spirited people who write about topics that interest me. I am truly grateful for your engagement in creating and envisioning better realities for us all. While we may not always have the time for detailed comments and feedback, knowing that others are willing to contribute to this online writing community is such an amazing gift.
Thank you all for your engagement and participation in this wild and woolly web called the internet!
Wherever your writing leads you, I hope you have a great journey along the way.
When you start your work day or your work week, do you ever ask yourself: What makes the most sense? It may be a good way to clarify your objective in any given moment or hour of the day.
Do you ever consider what time of the day you work best?
(I am going to answer for myself in the parentheses below the questions: yes, morning. My best work happens before noon.)
Do you plan your time so that (if you are a morning person like me) you accomplish your most important work at that “best time”?
(Yes. Most of the time that works well. In my corporate job, it did not work as well, because I had to be sure to be available to my team at certain times, and morning was the time the most probably intersections.)
Do you spend multiple hours checking and responding to email?
(I used to do this. It took up WAY too much time and required me to refocus far too many times in the day to get to my “deep work” tasks as much as I wanted.)
Are you able to put aside distractions such as social media, email and other items while you are trying to complete your most important work?
(It is truly tempting to have the social media “open” during the work day but I realized this was a recipe for disaster. So now I define times I will do that, usually during a break between harder tasks, before/after lunch break or at the end of the day when my brain is shot anyway.)
These are some questions I am using for my own self-coaching as I begin to work for myself, and launch a successful consulting practice. If they can be helpful to you as well, awesome! If you have some other coaching questions you like to ask yourself for helping to focus on working effective, I would love it if you share them with me.
It is interesting how we prefer consistency as humans. We want things to happen on predictable schedules and we want people to behave in predictable ways. And yet, some of us struggle with consistency in forming new habits.
With my blog, I did not want to commit to a regular schedule unless I knew I could be consistent with it. I actually did not expect to post daily. Sometimes I am still astonished that I do.
But I realize that certain activities give me energy. And when I do those things, particularly in the morning, the rest of my day flows with ease and gratitude. So I write consistently. Not because I need to get a certain number of “likes” though it seems like a nice bonus if a topic resonates.
I celebrate consistency, because as someone with a.d.d., it has not always been easy for me to adopt new habits. But when I am determined, I organize my life to achieve whatever new goal I have in mind.
Attacking too many new habits or goals at once is a recipe for failure. If you stick to one habit at most (meditating every day for 5-10 minutes, for example, or taking a short walk once a day) and maintain it for 60-90 days, you are on the road to consistency.
Once this happens, you have demonstrated you could succeed, and now you are a “person that meditates” making it a part of your identity. According to my Insight Timer I have meditated (or practiced yoga, which I think of as moving meditation) every day for 470+ consecutive days.
Meditation is changing me. I now look forward to it. I’m astonished. For years I did not think I could meditate. Mostly because people said you had to start with 15 minutes or more.
When I realized just doing it daily for 5 minutes was do-able, I slowly began increasing the time, so now my average for the past 12 weeks is 57 minutes a day. This is nothing short of miraculous.
What is one area in your life where you would like to have more consistency? Is it worth investing 5-10 minutes a day for 60-90 days to make it happen?
I have a sense of vague uneasiness this week, and I know it is probably related to anticipating my Dad’s upcoming surgery and an interview I have this Thursday.
It is a minor hernia surgery so everything should be fine, but last time Dad went to the hospital for surgery, he ended up in ICU for a few days unexpectedly. So I will happy to hear from my Mom after he returns home tonight or tomorrow. I am pretty sure that is the main reason for this vague feeling of uneasiness.
This Thursday I will be interviewing for a Senior Program Manager position that I applied for last month. It is a 5.5 hour set of meetings with 7 different people, as usual for my company a pretty grueling process. At least I will get to meet the whole team, and I will have the opportunity to assess if I am a fit for the role.
A part of me finds the opportunity exciting, and another part of me is almost disappointed to have the interview because I was looking for an “excuse” to leave the company in August for a break. My tolerance for corporate politics is wearing thin and I am having trouble distinguishing whether this is due to my particular position in the organization right now, or more of a general phenomenon.
I do know that we sometimes believe “the grass is greener” in another location and then we go and find that we have a new set of challenges to face. I am considering the ways in which I can honor my truth and step up to a new scenario with courage and commitment, if it is the next right step.
As I evaluate the new possibilities I will use my body and my emotions as an important “metric” of whether this particular path is a fit. For me it is about the people, the project and the environment overall, and whether that combination feels motivating (maybe a little scary, that’s okay) and compelling.
Some of the uneasiness might stem from my own perception that this is a step “up the ladder” and I do not necessarily care that much for advancement in that sense. I am going for better alignment rather than traditional advancement this time around. Not that those things are necessarily in opposition, and I must remind myself of this. I realize that part of me fears success as much as failure. Increased visibility is not always my goal, even though this may be what allows me to grow into the next version of myself.
Time to meditate, journal and plan for my week. Hope y’all enjoy the marvelously warmer temps of Spring (those in my neck of the woods). Hasta luego, amigas/os!