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!

 

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!

ENGAGE: Lessons From Death On How To Live Well

My older brother passed away on March 20. It was completely unexpected and way too soon. He was just 61 years old and fully engaged in his life.

At his Celebration of Life, I reflected on what I had learned from how he lived his life; and on how I could make some positive meaning from the huge gaping hole of sadness still present in my heart.

The morning of the celebration, I was not sure that I was going to be able to speak. While I wanted to share some memories of my brother, I felt nauseous and weepy, and unsure I would be able to pull it off.

At the last minute, I decided I wanted to do it…and no matter what…even if I was a blubbering mess…I was going to do it.

I am so glad I did.

My big brother taught me many things; mostly, he taught me to engage! Dene was a ‘yes-man’ in the last few years of his life. He was up for anything! If he was invited somewhere, he went. If he was sitting beside someone on the bus, he would strike up a conversation. If he attended a curling event, he would cheer loudly.

When I reflected on this gift from Dene, it reminded me of much of what I believe to be true about the pathway to living a good life.

I think that all of us – every human being – ultimately, wants to be happy. You already know that happiness does not come from outside of you…it does not randomly arrive, or not arrive, based on external factors. Happiness is an internal state, and is always created by what you choose to DO.

One thing you can do – like my older brother taught me – is to engage! What does it meant to ‘engage’. Very simply, it means that you:

  • choose to participate in events that are important to people you care about
  • jump in when you see a challenge before you
  • say ‘yes’ to a chance to help someone who could use it
  • connect with people you know, and also those you don’t
  • smile as you pass a stranger (and a friend)
  • do your best at work
  • ask for what you need in order for you to do your best at work
  • help others do their best at work
  • be grateful for the people who touch your life
  • let others know what you appreciate about them

I am so grateful that I chose to engage with Dene throughout his life, that I told him how much he meant to me, that I valued every moment we had together, that I laughed – and cried – with him, and that I chose to share my memories of him at his celebration.

Choose to engage. Notice how you feel. Repeat.