Mental Health in the Workplace: Be Compassionately Curious With Yourself and Others

I had the honor of experiencing Dr. Gabor Mate for two days in a workshop on Compassionate Inquiry. I was riveted the entire time. This post features just a wee snippet of the opportunity we all have to increase our compassion for ourselves and for others.

Dr. Mate describes how we are all traumatized. He goes on to say that the essence of the trauma is not what happened to you, it is what happened inside of you as a result of what happened to you. If you were neglected as a child, the neglect is what happened to you, and the trauma is what happened inside of you as a result of that neglect (developing a belief that you are not worthy of love and being cared for, for example).

Part of his teaching was about how to treat yourself when you are triggered. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ that part of yourself that was triggered (i.e. when your childhood belief about your unworthiness appears in your adult relationships), you can be curious about what ‘combustible material’ inside of you was triggered. And this part is very important: when you are curious, you are not judging yourself – you are only seeking to understand that mechanism that resides inside of you. And to make friends with it.

“You are never upset about what you are upset about – it is always a trigger that goes way back. They are not new emotions.” says Mate.

Check out his Youtube video below, in which he explains the root of how we develop these mechanisms inside of us – and how we can develop a new relationship with them – one that is more compassionately curious.

One study Dr. Mate shared with us really stuck with me. It was a study in which mice were exposed to a certain smell and then simultaneously were given a shock. The mice began to associate the smell and the pain of the shock. After awhile, just the smell would bring pain to the mice – they became conditioned to associate the two. This part of the study makes sense – you have likely heard about other studies just like this one.

What was really interesting about this study is the next part … the grandchildren of these mice shudder at the smell – and they were never shocked! This conditioning was passed on through the generations. It is done epigenetically;  how the genes function are changed and then passed down through generations. The grand-mice are manifesting the experience of their ancestors – and, likewise, so do you.

When you are curious about the source of your experience, it will enhance your compassion – towards yourself and towards others. And when you are more compassionate and understanding of your internal mechanisms, you can begin to change your relationship with them (and interrupt the ‘auto’ response of the trigger). You, then, are able to make different choices when triggered – you can choose a different path, and have the opportunity to affect the future gene pool along the way!

Stay tuned for more in future posts…and check out more from Dr. Mate on Youtube.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

 

Create Positive Workplace Culture

Culture is Co-Created!

What is a Positive Workplace Culture? How is it created? What are the key elements?

Organizational Culture…is an expression of the values, beliefs and assumptions of its members, and is manifested in behavior.

You know that you can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ an organization’s culture as soon as you enter the doorway. It is, literally, written all over the faces of the people who are a part of that organization.

Culture does not ‘just happen’…it is not dictated by leadership. Organizational Culture is always co-created. When you review the list that follows, ask yourself; ‘How many of these positive elements am I contributing?

We’ll use the word POSITIVE as an acronym to recall the key elements, and explore a few ideas about what you can do to contribute to that element:

P – Present

Do you fly into work, head filled with to-do lists and with frustration at the traffic you just left behind?

Take one minute, at the beginning of your day, to ‘arrive’. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and remind yourself why you are there.

O – Optimistic

What do you say to yourself when adversity strikes? Do you look at obstacles as temporary glitches that you can work to overcome (Optimists)? Or, do you view challenges as permanent and pervasive – as just the way it goes in your life (Pessimists)?

Practice changing the dialogue you allow to take up space in your mind. Choose to look at adversity as an isolated incident that you can overcome. You’ll immediately be in a better space to work your way through it.

S – Shared

As we stated above, Culture is co-created. You are part of an ecosystem – at work, at home, in your community. So ask yourself; ‘What am I contributing?‘. Is my contribution helping or hurting this Culture? Sometimes the answers to those questions come from other people. Be open to hearing how others view you – you’ll learn a lot, about yourself and about your colleagues.

I – Intentional

Think about, and then answer these questions for yourself … ‘Who Are You and What Do You Want?

Then, share those answers with important people around you.

T – Thank-full

Of all of the research on happiness and positivity, the #1 strategy is gratitude. Practice gratitude each day, letting other people know what you appreciate about them.

I – Inspired

In addition to answering the two questions above – Who Are You and What Do You Want…also answer this question ‘Why Are You Here?‘ Why are you in this organization, why are you in this profession, why are you on this earth? If you want to know where your inspiration is, answering that question will bring you much closer to it!

V- Vulnerable

When you mess up, own it, learn from it, and share the story. In order for your Culture to be optimally positive and healthy, mistakes must be transparent and viewed as a learning opportunity. Additionally, all members must feel comfortable sharing personal struggles, such as a mental health challenge. Not so that we can all become mired in the sadness; but so that we can help each other move through and past the challenge.

E – Energized

Eat well. Exercise. Sleep. These are staples to an energized human. Beyond those basics and everything listed above, an energized human is one who has well-developed social relationships at work. Come together and remind yourself that you are, indeed, all in this together!

So, here is another question for you; ‘What Will You Do?‘. What actions will you take to positively impact yourself and your Organizational Culture?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

 

The Joy of Slow: Take Time to Tune In and Turn On

My friend, Jennifer, told me about a fantastic App called Insight Timer. I’ve been using it over the last few weeks. It’s filled with hundreds of meditations to choose from, and you get to see yourself amid a world-wide community of meditators. It is very cool! And, it’s free!

One meditation I tried last night reminded me again about the simplicity – and the power – of a meditative practice. It is called ‘How to Fall Asleep Mindfully’ and is a short (6:48) guided experience led by Sean Fargo. Sean’s voice is soothing and relaxing, and he begins by reminding listeners of the noise – the busy-ness – in our minds. That noise can negatively impact sleep (we have all had the experience of lying restlessly being nagged by thoughts of the day gone by or worries about the day ahead) as much as it negatively impacts wakefulness!

Sean guides listeners to tune into their bodies; one ‘part’ at a time. I was only at my knees and I could already notice a shift (we started, by the way, at our feet)!

The simplicity of meditation is in being able to change your state by changing your focus. Mindfully choosing to tune into our bodies helps us to tune out of our busy minds. This simple process induces relaxation and ‘sleepiness’. While I have selected sleep meditations before, I like this one because it taught me how to fall asleep mindfully when I don’t have my headphones in my ears and my Insight Timer turned on. I can learn to slow myself down and fall asleep easily. Every year I get older, I am more grateful for the gift of a good night’s sleep!

I awoke this morning feeling energized and awake! This is where the power of a meditation practice is realized. When I arise energized and awake, I am better able to navigate my day; I begin with more joy in my heart, I proceed with more spring in my step, I make better (more mindful) decisions, and I am more equipped to deal with frustrations and irritations that inevitably come along.

In this world of ‘hurry’, you can choose to pause on purpose…either at the end of your day to fall asleep, at the beginning of your day to awaken positively, or any time throughout your day to engage energetically. And then, just notice what you notice….

I know you will find as I do….there is real joy in ‘slow’. What do you think?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!