Jackie Kellso

Posts Tagged ‘heart’

Dear Millennials: Protect Your Brain from your Heart

In brain, connections, friends with co-workers, friends with colleagues, heart, millennials, personal life at work, professional boundaries, work relationships, workplace connections, young professionals on May 9, 2016 at 3:52 pm

On the tail of Mother’s Day, I was thinking back to what I was like at age 27, the year my mother died.  I was already a successful and ambitious sales person in the media business when this happened, and it shook my whole world.  I was thinking about how vulnerable I felt at the time and what I did to fill the void.  And, since I was single and work was my primary focus at the time, filling the void meant forging strong relationships with colleagues.

A year after my mother died I landed my biggest and most important job to that point, a hot hot hot cable network!  No gig was cooler than that place in the 1980s, when I got this job. (MTV, folks!) I was great at what I did and managed to succeed even with my personal grief.  But inside I felt deeply alone and was trying to live my life without my mother in it.  Well, the woman who had hired me was a bright, lively, warm person, a few years older than me, and reached out her hand in friendship.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled!  We became good friends.  I went to her house, she went to my house, we talked on the phone, we cried to each other, shared secrets, the whole shmeer.  The professional boundary had been smashed.  I was in heaven because I worked for the coolest company, and had me the strong, comforting, female, authority figure for which I longed.

A year passed.  Suddenly, this boss moved over to a new department, gained a higher status in the company, and I got a new boss — this one, not so warm and friendly.  But it didn’t matter because I still had this great relationship that would support me and be there for me, just from a different department.  So I thought.  I soon realized that she wanted to cut me loose, and move beyond me.  I was crushed, I tell you, to my core.  I wrote her letters, I called her, I tried to understand the sudden disinterest in being my friend.  I never got a straight answer.

It took me awhile to heal.  I had let my heart shoot my brain, basically!  I now know it’s because the hormone oxytocin (which acts as a neuro-transmitter in the brain) is released when there’s a powerful connection.  It’s what we all seek, of course, especially when we are in need.  Work is a sea of opportunity to connect. The danger in this is that many people in corporate life are in it to win it; ambitious to the point of using people along the way.  And, even if they aren’t trying to use people, they have to recover and protect their own boundaries, in order to be most effective and have the best chances of success.  I can’t say to this day what her motive was to befriend and then unfriend me. Once she broke my trust, I felt I never really knew her in the first place. But, in hindsight, if she’d known how to handle it better she would have.

I’ll never forget this powerful lesson. No matter what is going on in your personal life, work is a dangerous place to become vulnerable to others.  Sure, I made some very nice friends throughout the years, some of whom are reading this right now, but the difference is having a friend vs. trying to find healing through a co-worker.

I wanted to write this to you from the perspective of someone now approaching 57, who has made lots of mistakes and has learned from each one of them. Your work life is different in many ways than mine was at your age.  But still, people are people, and as nice as they may be, your best bet is to keep a professional boundary so that your personal life doesn’t encroach on all of the amazing opportunities and business relationships that await you.

Always learning and growing,

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.

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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.