How to keep going when the going gets tough

I was asked by reporter to share one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, this past year. My answer: whether to keep the company going or not.

I'm not going to lie, the last couple of years have been tough. My ability to concentrate on the work has ebbed and flowed and different times. I don't feel like I've been as effective as I have wanted to be. And the pandemic? Well, I've wanted to just - escape. As I think most people have.

The reality is, we are living through a global pandemic. And our primary job in a pandemic is to survive the pandemic. The instinct to insulate the family and just withdraw, is a protective instinct. It's healthy actually.

The problem is, that instinct is at odds with running a company with requires, not withdrawal, but engagement.  Finding the will to stay engaged has been really tough for me.

I have ultimately decided to stay engaged because, I really do feel that what I do matters and can make the world a better place.

Being a Humanist helps, because it encourages me to think - beyond myself into my impact on others. And it's honestly - only my feeling of responsibility to others that has kept me going. 

If you are struggling too - you have my sympathy. My advice? It's ok to feel like you are struggling when the reality is - you are struggling.  That's acknowledging reality.  It's also ok to take care of your own for a while. But for me, I always pair that with my concern and care for others.

Hugs regardless of what you decide to do for you. 

Facilitating Diversity? Focus on Inclusion - REAL inclusion.

 A reporter asked me: Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?

For me, the question is less about how we create diversity and more about how do we create inclusion. Even in homogenous organizations, there are people who are bullied and excluded.  

If we want more diverse yet cohesive work groups, we need to eliminate bullying and other behaviors that sabotage inclusion efforts. There is a reason why most of these efforts fail, and that is because – people sabotage them! We need to be more proactive about addressing and eliminating the sabotaging behavior so that people recruited in – are actively included in the group, so that they CAN create the working relationships and trust required for everyone to be productive. 

If all we ever do is try to recruit in diversity, regardless of the metrics we use, we will continue to fail. We must learn how and actively use the techniques we know work to eliminate bullying.  Why? Because bullying is all about creating exclusion.

Ending Exclusion

Humans are a tribal species. Our brains tend to see the world as our group and "others."  Bullies bully because it allows them to control who is in and who is out and that gives them a tremendous amount of power over any group. If you want diverse yet cohesive groups, you CANNOT allow bullies to exclude people and other them. 

The Future

What I hope for the future, is that we start applying the science of how to get unwanted behaviors to stop and we use that to stop bullying behavior so we can final wrestle control away from the office bullies and finally create inclusive support work groups where fear of being ostracized no longer dictates what happens or how problems are solved – or not solved.

Learn More

If you want to learn more - take one of my courses at:

Overcoming trauma with grace

Learning how to reclaim and own your dignity after something horrible has happened to you. 

I was asked to write something to help people overcome drama and trauma in their lives with dignity and grace. 

I do have experience with this. I have had quite a bit of trauma in my life, and some of it was caused by relationship drama.  I'm in a great place now and happy most of the time. In fact, I was chatting with a psychologist the other day and he wondered if I was naturally happy, or whether I was manic depressive.  

Confession. I am naturally disposed to happiness. I do get sad. I do get angry. I get frustrated. I do get depressed. But those are deviations. My normal state is happy.  My son is the same way - his default state - is happy.

Not everyone is so lucky. This may very well be biological in the same way that some people are simply - more anxious, upset or depressed. That is their normal and moments of happiness are deviations from their norm.

Despite my normal state, I have had periods where I spent years in negative emotional states.  When I was being stalked, I was so anxious, I developed a physical problem as a result of the constant anxiety.   

When I lost my first child to stillbirth in the 8th month of pregnancy, it took a couple of years to get to some level of "normalcy."   I still can "lose it" and start crying uncontrollably when I think about it. 

Oh - and one time, I almost died. My galbladder went gangrenous. I got to the hospital just in time. Had I waited a day, I would have died. I knew it was bad when they doubled my morphine dose and gave it to me more frequently. 

I've also been subjected to some pretty serious personal and professional attacks on my character. 

I've had periods in my life that were manifestly horrible. I developed PTSD (diagnosed) from the stalking situation. And I've overcome the drama and trauma of all of that and gotten to a good place in my life. So I feel confident to talk about this.  In fact, who better to talk about how to overcome trauma, than someone who has done so successfully.

My Humanism is My Anchor

I'm not special

The first part of the Humanist philosophy that helps me, is the understanding that I am not special. There is nothing about me that will magically make me immune to the hardships of life.  

Bad things happen to good people for no other reason than bad things happen. I remember when I lost my child, and I went to an infant loss grief support group. I realized very quickly that I was the only person they ONLY dealing with grief. Everyone else had their theological world turned upside down. Not only did they have to deal with grief, they had to deal with the realization that their faith did not spare them from hardship. 

As crazy as it sounds, the knowledge that I am not special, helps me cope. By allowing me to accept the reality of what has happened and just deal with it.  I feel really bad for all my friends of faith who deal with grief plus. Grief is hard enough on it's own. I can't imagine adding the suffering that my friends of faith have to deal with on top of their grief.  It makes me understand why they get mad at god(s).  I don't get mad at god. I just grieve. It's easier.  

Others have done it - so can I

Another reason I am able to recover my emotional balance is because I know I can.  And I know I can because others have done so, and I've always figured if they can do it, so can I. 

I know my current reality, as bad as it is, will not be permanent and that I can take constructive steps to help myself get to a better place. I don't have to be passive. I can be pro-active. 

I can pamper myself. I can allow myself to find joy in between moments of sorrow.  I can treasure those moments without feeling guilty about my grief or sorry.

I don't have to act on my emotions - I can use compassion to guide my thinking

I can pamper myself. I can allow myself to find joy in between moments of sorrow.  I can treasure those moments without feeling guilty about my grief or sorry.  I understand my emotions are fleeting and whatever I feel - is ok. I can accept my emotions, without acting on them.

And this last bit is key.  I don't have to act on my emotions.  I can decide what to do - if anything - about those emotions. Often, I chose to do nothing but experience them.

One of the ways Humanism helps me is it reminds me to be compassionate with myself and others. If I am upset and frustrated, I feel compassion for myself for having those emotions and vow not to act on them. I then try to think of the person I am mad at - with compassion, so that when I do think of how I want to respond, I act reasonably. Often, that means - not acting at all.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to stop interpersonal drama - is to walk away and do nothing. Sometimes, you win - by not fighting.

The bonus to this approach is that - it's grace and dignity personified.  People who fight back - demean themselves. People who respond with grace and dignity, win. Not only does this help them maintain their dignity, it helps them feel better about themselves. You don't have to get riled up - you can just leave. Let the other person be a jerk. 

I find it's easiest to do this when I convince myself to be compassionate, with myself and the other person.  Often, another person behaving badly has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.  Just - walk away. Let them find someone else to hassle.  And yes, this is easier said than done.

Suffering is not Noble

The final idea from Humanism that helps me is the understanding that suffering isn't noble. There is no point to suffering. I don't get any points for suffering. It's an unfortunate reality that can't be avoided at times. But that doesn't mean I have to stay in a place of suffering. 

As a Humanist, I don't believe there is any purpose in life. We life, we may procreate, then we die. The only impact we have is in our life's work and whether we helped people or not.  As far as I am concerned, I may as well be happy.  I'd rather be happy than not. So - I chose to be happy.

This doesn't mean I'm automatically happy. It does mean that when I find I'm not happy and it's a lasting condition, I take action to rectify the problem.  

Is the problem grief?  I can take small steps and know that my grief will eventually ebb - if I let it - and I let it because, to me, it would be crazy to hold onto grief. Holding on to grief is not noble. It's stupid. If I can't let go - and there have been times where I had trouble, I seek out help in the form of therapists and counselors. And they have always helped me identify what was holding me back so I could release it. 

The most dramatic example was the stalking. Therapy gave me my life back.  If you are stuck - get help. Don't continue to suffer. Do something to change and if you don't know what that is - get professional help.

Learn more:

I have a 6 hour online course where I teach my humanist approach to living life fully and happily.  It's called - Living Made Simpler and covers a variety of topics and discusses the humanist approach to living life well.

I also have a book called The Humanist Approach to Happiness -
Life isn’t easy. It is filled with challenges. How we navigate those challenges determines our success in life. If you want to learn more about how to be happy and how to think more effectively about the choices you make, this book will help.

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