We all carry pain. All of us.
We navigate the vice grip of the pains from our past along with the pains from the present while trying to keep it all together.
And when things break, we often carry the blame and responsibility for our pain because we’ve absorbed the messages that our struggles are our sole responsibility; neglecting to see the systems, the business practices, and the cultural norms that weigh us down, too.
As a result, the desire to control our emotions and our environments runs deep.
And our protectors are often on high alert editing our words, our tones, and how we express emotions–especially the difficult ones.
But when we seek to control both our inner world and our external world as a means of creating safety, we end up having the opposite effect.
To counter these toxic messages and systems, we need to do our own inner work and set the foundation for the capacity to make changes in the spaces where we live and work.
Quick-fix solutions abound for mental health challenges.
As leaders, we’re fed the same advice over and over again. Generic one-size-fits-all “thought work” designed to alleviate our gloom and get us back on the road to success.
But that generic advice comes up short. And much of it further stigmatizes mental health struggles, failure, and doubt to the point where people fake it until they make it and then end up face down in a serious mental health crisis.
We as leaders and business owners have a responsibility to offer something other than quick fixes or bandaids. We have to do the work to create spaces for the nuances of life to show up.
We need to make mental health a priority in our businesses. How we all approach mental well-being can shift the stigmas around struggle while honoring the whole person with as much care as our bottom line.
Today’s guest joins me for an important and nuanced conversation about the intersection...
We often look at the results of quizzes and personality assessments for language to help describe ourselves to others. And to better understand ourselves.
These assessments can help us manage how we hire, date, and even want others perceive us.
The language of these tests can fuel connection and belonging within and with others–to an extent.
But it can also be used to sort, judge, or even shame aspects of another’s personality. These assessments can be used to silo an aspect of how people show up or experience the world, into something that becomes polarizing or seen as “good” or “bad.”
We react to judgments of a trait in someone else instead of being present to someone’s full identity.
Yet, used with self-reflection and curiosity, assessment systems like the Enneagram can further a deeper understanding of ourselves, so we can in turn lead ourselves and others from a place of health.
My guest today is shaking things up...
How you talk to yourself often reflects how you lead and how you talk with others.
The harshness of your inner conversations seeps through into your conversations with others. The vice grip of judgment, resentment, and out of aligned expectations you’re holding combined with the burdens from difficult life experiences make it loud between the ears.
We navigate our internal conversations while simultaneously engaging in conversations with others. It gets messy and the inner conversations eventually spill out to our external conversations.
But our inner conversations of doubt, shame, and judgment are not a moral failure but a reflection of our past pain plus the world we live in and the thousands of messages we get everyday focused on questioning our health and our worth.
The message that we are the problem when we are struggling with how we talk to ourselves leaves out the responsibility of our history, our current culture that conflates...
When you experience something that elicits an emotional response at work, you respond according to the extent of the emotional burdens you carry.
Our burdens come from our past traumas combined with the real-time heart-wrenching news–on repeat–we are moving through right now in our country.
And our places of work can also be ground zero for some really painful experiences or where we relive difficult life experiences.
When we can connect the impact of our traumatic and difficult life experiences to how we lead, that builds the foundation for a trauma-informed culture.
It also moves us out of an individualistic lens to a collective approach to healing and change.
And when we can name the traumatic experiences that happen in our places of work without retribution and move to accountability and repair, this also builds a trauma informed culture that moves us beyond pathologizing pain and struggle to normalizing. Even healing it.
When the whole...
When we spend most of our time trying to prove our worth, our proving shifts to looking for safety and validation from external sources and delegates our worth to others.
When we engage in this kind of proving, we end up in what I call the “not enough” loop.
The not enough loop is rooted in the belief that if you can change or fix yourself based on these external metrics–the standard of enough–you’ll get relief and feel more secure and capable.
But it only deepens our feelings of insecurity, comparison, and scarcity, which loops back to looking outside ourselves for validation. The not enough loop counts on us to externalize our worthiness.
When we fall into the not enough loop in our work, we often hear blanket labels like “imposter syndrome” that place responsibility on the individual and shut down conversations about the biases and pressures that make imposter syndrome and the not enough loop so much more prevalent for anyone who...
It feels like we are in a collective hangover right now as we unlearn toxic ways of viewing difficult emotions, life experiences, and just being human.
And the commitment to understand those unpleasant feelings or aspects of ourselves isn’t any less daunting. It’s hard work to discover why we can’t set and maintain boundaries or deepen the courage to speak up when the stakes are high.
But our capacity for discomfort creates our capacity to lead with courage.
Our ability to work with our emotions helps us achieve the changes we desire inside us and around us.
Working with our emotions–doing inner work– involves an intention to better understand why we do and feel and respond the way we do.
When we do inner work, we take responsibility for our own needs, our pain, our difficult life experiences. We listen to our discomfort and get curious about what we need instead of exiling the parts of us that need our support.
Sure, this kind...
When being right is more important to you than being in relationship, difference and questioning become something to fear.
And fear shuts down connection and curiosity.
Unattended grief and rage are fertile ground for fear to have a party with our capacity to stay curious and welcome the discomfort of doubt and questions.
And trust cannot exist without the ability to share and question the norms and beliefs of a community.
When we lead or are led this way, questions become a threat to belonging and status quo.
And when you are in the public eye, there seems to be even less room for doubt and more momentum for digging heels into being right, at the sacrifice of relationships and dignity.
Today’s Unburdened Leader guest and her husband lost friends, community, and much of their livelihood when they started to question some of the foundational tenets of their beliefs, which were deeply intertwined into their community.
Instead of their doubt and curiosity...
If you don't take time to grieve, your body will make the time for you.
Grief is an emotion that does not respond to intellectual strategies or hacks. It has a job to do and it will take you out if you do not listen to it.
And there are not many spaces that encourage you to take the time to tend to the fullness of your grief.
Work deadlines are still looming. Bills still need to be paid. Family care needs are still all too present.
But when we neglect to approach our grief and the grief of others with the reverence it deserves, we may unintentionally become complicit in toxic narratives around grief while doing harm to ourselves and to others.
And when grief is not tended to, our bodies end up being the truth tellers in ways of: anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, brain fog, and so much more to get us to pay attention to our grief.
My guest today addresses powerfully what it looks like to normalize grief and what happens when we try to bypass it.
Our bodies are often the wisest parts of who we are, but we regularly over-ride the messages they send us when they tell us when we’re at capacity.
We push through, over-work, see physical and emotional pain as something to overcome instead of important data to take into account about our needs and how we are living.
And even if we do take in these messages clearly and see the need for needed shifts and care, it feels like change is not an option or acceptable.
So we push ourselves until we crash. And this is often normalized - sometimes even celebrated - as a part of how we do work and life.
And when the body dials up the pain or the anxiety to finally get our attention, the default for many is to become at war with the messenger - seeing our bodies as the enemy instead of the culture of work and health care as the culprit.
This is only reinforced by the expectations from work and how everyone else “seems to being doing it all...