Jackie Kellso

Archive for February, 2016|Monthly archive page

Focus on your Brain to Get to the Heart of the Matter

In Albert Ellis, anxiety, cortisol, freeze, heart of the matter, irrational beliefs, objective thinking, pre-frontal cortex, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, stress and worry, stress hormones, thinking brain, work-related stress on February 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

If I asked you why you’re feeling stressed or anxious this very moment, you might tell me it’s because the client has rejected your pitch, or your boss has re-assigned a project to someone else (when you thought you’d be the best choice), or your co-worker shuns you no matter how nice you are to her. There are so many answers to this question there isn’t room to write them on this page.

Let’s just say that those are some of the answers you give me.  Legitimate reasons to be stressed and anxious, yes, but it’s less so the external situation that is the cause of worry and stress, and more the internal processing of external events.

The brain is designed to keep us from harm. When it senses danger, it will help us cope with the threat with a huge injection of cortisol, the stress hormone. And, when it does this, we will respond according to the way we’ve become wired.  You’ve seen or done this:  we’ll argue (fight) or withdraw (flight) or be unable to speak (freeze) or even begin to apologize profusely (appease); unconscious modes of protecting ourselves.  When we respond in any of these ways, we are not using the thinking parts of our brains (the pre-frontal cortex, which is behind the forehead), we are just unloading the surge of cortisol onto the world.

Suddenly, your client might hear you ask for forgiveness; your co-worker might just not get copied on an important email (this is a passive-aggressive ‘fight’ response) or your boss might be told exactly what you think of him, unfiltered, as you are ushered out the door.

In order to really protect ourselves, we must get to the heart of the matter.  And that means analyzing the beliefs we have about our situations.  This is the work of  Dr. Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy; it is the look at how our beliefs, and in this case, those that are irrational, impact the way we end up behaving.

Irrational beliefs start with, “I should,” or “He must,” or “It would be a disaster if…”  What follows will be the body’s attempt to gain control of a situation that doesn’t align with these beliefs (hello, cortisol) and suddenly we are in stress hell, unable to cope logically, rationally or objectively.  Over time the brain has created pathways that have stored these beliefs, so there’s nothing wrong with you that you are acting in a way that is counter-productive.  Cortisol packs a powerful punch that knocks thinking to the ground. That being said, now that you know what’s going on under your skull, you can engage your thinking brain and do something about it.

Examples:

1. Your co-worker shuns you and you’ve tried to be easy and pleasant and helpful.  This triggers any number of irrational beliefs (based on who you are).

Irrational Beliefs: She should be nice and respectful towards me!  Maybe it’s because I’m unlikable.  I’m stupid.  I’m a burden.

Objective Thinking: What happened to her that she’s so unhappy as to treat others this way?  What’s going on in her life that she’s so miserable?

2. Your boss assigns a prized project to someone else.

Irrational Beliefs:  He should have chosen me!  I’m the best person for this.

Objective Thinking:  The boss needs me focused on something else now.  The boss wants to challenge this other person and help her grow. There is no such thing as winning or losing, except in my mind.

When we use the thinking brain we literally stop the flow of cortisol and calm down.  The situation might not feel great, but at least you’re not emotionally drained! The more we practice objective thinking in the face of stress, worry and anxiety, the more we can tolerate situations that make us uncomfortable. Then we can dislodge ourselves from taking external things personally. Then we can start to operate from objectivity, confidence and strength.  Then we feel better because we’ve used our brains to get to the heart of the matter.

Thoughtfully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

You’re Dead to Us: Getting Edged out of a Job

In career, career change, career opportunities, Compassionate universe, create a new career, discover your passion, Getting Edged out of a Job, getting fired, getting laid off, keep negativity to yourself, leadership, life changes, life mirrors our inner beliefs, live your passion, living a dream, mission, moving forward in life, Mr. Wonderful, opportunity for change, Shark Tank, You're Dead to Me, You're Dead to Us on February 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Many professionals hit a certain point in their careers when suddenly they are fired or laid off (aka FIRED) or (and this is the sneakier one) moved from leadership positions to those of ‘special projects directors.’ This former non-position; now a quasi-unspecified position, is a little closer to the door — but management chose to sit you by the door rather than push you out of it.  They’re 1. Hoping you will find a new job and resign, or 2. Just resign, or 3. Waiting until some HR time-frame comes into play to actually cut you loose.

There are many ways we can find ourselves being pushed out. We are not invited to key meetings.  Our opinions are no longer being requested.  We are offered less and less opportunities to generate some form of work or income.  This is especially hard when we’re not told anything, rather just that the changes are being made and we find ourselves in a career and/or financial crisis.

So, as someone who has experienced the “You’re Dead to Us” phenomenon in 35 years of professional life, I thought I’d share how I made it beyond this type of situation to thrive, hoping this will help those who are going through what feels insulting, denigrating and unjust.

1. Curse!  Cursing is hugely cathartic. Cry. Mourn. Be enraged. Do this for as long as you need (this stage will end, by the way).  HOWEVER, do not display this behavior or say anything negative or share your personal feelings with any of your colleagues!  This is a private matter! Stay neutral around people and show that you’re going with the flow, outwardly.

2. Actions to take (with options):  a. If you can trust your boss, ask him/her “Why the changes? and “What caused these changes?” (NOT, “What did I do wrong?”).  You may receive information that will help you gain some valuable insight, or sadly, to use for legal action. b. If you do not trust your boss, you can go to HR, but they will report your query back to your boss. c. This is really really really really really really really hard to do, but this is the one I recommend: Ask yourself how moving on will support your vision for your career and life.

3. Life mirrors our inner beliefs. I have a theory that when things fall away (like jobs or relationships) it’s a signal that the little gnawing whisper in our heads that has been begging us to listen to it, is actually getting its secret wish, despite our mental control to stay put.  Ever hear yourself say, “Geez, I want to be a pirate, if only…” or “I want to discover the first sponges that don’t smell!” or “My passion isn’t here, it’s in rescuing elephants and I want to be in Africa doing that right now!”  So, if you’re being pushed out, you must ask, “Why is this happening now and how does this SUPPORT me?”

4. Create an interim plan of action.  This might mean going to recruiters or taking a job at Starbucks (actually that could be a cool job!) while you go back to school, or begin marketing a consultancy and get busy on social media looking for freelance work. Ask friends for leads. Or, take that vacation and luxuriate on the Riviera! It’s rare that we feel we are in our dream job when it falls away.  There is usually a dream yet unfulfilled.  The key is to remember that what is happening is meant to cut the apron strings so we are free to move forward.

5. Be excited! The use of our energy at this critical time will produce what happens next.  Yes, if you feel immobilized you must get help – go see a counselor, therapist or coach.  But once you can move through the pain, it’s so important to use your creativity and positivity to define a mission for your career and take the very next step towards that. After all, in the big picture of life, it’s never about defining who we are based on the job, but rather, on what we do with our dreams.

My belief is that the Universe is compassionate and that it juggles us around to put us on the right paths. Many spiritual teachers talk about how true compassion is ruthless. Is Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank”) compassionate when he says, “You’re dead to me?”  Was Tony Soprano?  Well, maybe not.  But I wouldn’t exactly consider them spiritual teachers! The bottom line is that it’s our job to look at the big picture when we are being edged out and perhaps say (silently) to the boss:  “Thanks for setting me free.”

 

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.