A Navy SEAL slogan is “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
I’ve been working on this lesson for awhile. I was sedentary the first 20+ years of my life; I avoided physical discomfort at all costs. Then in my 20’s, I started getting physically fit, yet the pendulum swung too far. I realized I could push myself through discomfort, yet also pushed myself through the warning pains from my body. I spent years in recovery going to different specialists to relieve the pain from damage.
I recently picked up running again on a trip to Hawaii. I felt so amazing after the first few runs, and I wanted that amazing feeling to stick around. Though pain from previous injuries started coming up on the following runs. This time I listened, even though a piece of me didn’t want to. On several runs, I switched to walking, took frequent stretch breaks, or turned around early. A couple weeks of listening to my body and I’m quicker than I was when I started. I’m allowing myself to deeply let in the message that slowing down and listening to my body allows me to go do the things I desire.
I believe slowing down can allow so many things to flourish, especially relationships, whether it’s your relationship with self or others.
SXSW is opening up their speaker proposals soon. A couple years ago, I had such an inspiring time at SXSW. I also believe the startup and tech world could benefit from more emotional awareness and balance and less burnout. Some ideas I’m considering are around empathy of work teams, balance vs burnout, and psychology behind ecstatic dance. If you would like to collaborate on any speaking proposals or would just like to chat about the proposal process, let me know.
In Essentialism, Greg speaks to the importance of seeing what matters by understanding the motives of all players involved in a situation and recommends role playing. Who are you having difficulty understanding today? What if you took the role play even deeper and paused after a piece that was harder to understand, and took a moment to guess at what could be an even deeper truth for that person. Then paused again and guessed what could be the deepest truth for that person. For example if someone says “That idea is ridiculous”, a deeper truth could be “I’m overwhelmed and can’t comprehend this idea right now”, and the deepest truth could be “I’m terrified of losing what I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life making, and when I’m terrified everything seems ridiculous”. How could taking the moment to pause and deepen in empathy effect your day today?
When a treatment, intervention, or strategy isn’t working, it’s time to pause, breathe, and evaluate. If the term “resistent client” or “stubborn family member” couldn’t exist in our minds, how would we act differently? If we absolutely believed there was a way we could support this person’s growth, how would you act and think differently in the room. Would you blame the other person less and take extreme ownership of the situation? While it might not be true that we can find the needed approach or intervention, if we don’t believe it’s out there, how could we find it?
The film Saving Capitalism highlighted the lack of transparency in how the regulation system is formed. What if some politicians decided to wear webcams and allow the public to see into meetings, dinners, and even their personal bank accounts? I wonder how the system may shift towards increased health of the whole.
Is there a place in your life that increasing your transparency may increase the health of the system? What’s one actionable step you can take towards that transparency?
I come across many models that don’t seem to hold up when I compare them to different studies or how I see them working with my clients.
One model that seems to keep proving it’s worth is Dr. Saj Ravzi’s Stress Response Hill, shown below. Check out his entire video, it’s worth the investment of time. The one point of his I want to highlight, is that most of us are operating at the “1”, we are slightly activated most of the time, and when we try to do mindfulness or relaxation exercises to get to the “0”, we may actually fell more agitated. It’s common to then think the exercise must not work, when actually the agitation in the body increases before it fully relaxes, so the increase in agitation means it’s working. I find this model extremely helpful to explain to clients prior to beginning relaxation exercises, as it helps them understand the increase in anxiety is part of the process.
New experiences can bring up opportunities to examine childhood wounds and begin healing them. A common new experience I see people having is their first child or their first child that’s the same gender they identify with. Seeing the child grow to be ages the parent was when different traumas happened can bring up old childhood pains. While it can be very challanging, the experiences can also be a blessing allowing us to see parts of ourselves that need love, understanding, and forgiveness.
If you or a client is going through a new experience and has a response that exceeds the circumstance or seems like it belongs to a younger self, take the time to examine that response. What’s its’ message? What is it needing to heal? Provide the piece of the self that responded in this way with compassion.
What new and challanging experience can you try this week? Be mindful while doing it and see what emotions or sensations arise. If any parts of yourself are uncomfortable, take the time to comfort them, and be thankful to the new experience for showing you this piece of yourself to heal.
I will be releasing a podcast soon about burnout, and we did a great job about speaking about the internal factors.
I did not cover the external factors though. Sometimes the systems that we work in are not conducive to our health. You are not broken, the system is. It’s okay to walk away from moral injury. Each of our decisions of what systems we choose to work in are valid.
It is not your fault if you are feeling exhausted and ineffective in a convoluted system. It is your responsibility to choose how you want to handle the circumstance you are in. You may decide to stay and work on your boundaries and adding emotional fitness skills. You may decide to leave and work for a smaller practice, where more of your energy can go to serving clients instead of working to change the system. All choices are valid, worthy, and acceptable. Listen to yourself. Take action on your wisdom.
For more information on Moral Injury, see Dr. Z’s video on how it’s effecting the healthcare system.
Arianna Huffington spoke on Masters of Scale about how her organization is using AI to monitor call centers. After an operator hangs up with a difficult caller, the AI detects the intensity in the call, and instead of patching through another caller, the operator will get a Thrive call. This Thrive call is a 30-60 second guided call, which could be on mindfulness, gratitude, breathing, etc. Arianna’s company Thrive understands that these small investments in emotional fitness pay for themselves. Emotional fitness supports the operators and the callers both have better experiences. What emotional fitness practice can you begin incorporating today?
FYI – A recent meta study on breath work comparing 8 types of breathing showed that all types of breathing were effective for a portion of the participants. There wasn’t one style that was effective for everyone. So explore different emotional fitness practices, what seems most supportive for you? The exercises that seem the most supportive may also change over time. Try keeping a list in your phone of what works and even what doesn’t work for you, so you know where to turn after a more intense moment, since most of us don’t have Thrive calls coming in to remind us what there is to be grateful for.
When you think of physical recovery after an intense workout or running a race – what comes to mind? Possibly:
Intense physical exercise, focused on the same muscle groups, day after day, is counterproductive, as it doesn’t allow for the repair cycle, and instead causes repetitive small injuries. While the small injury that occurs after one intense workout is beneficial with rest, as the muscle is allowed to repair itself and becomes stronger.
When you think of emotional recovery after an intense session or a multiple hour session due to a safety planning intervention for suicide – what comes to mind and are we as diligent at applying these recovery methods?
Prioritizing our emotional recovery with the same awareness we allow ourselves to recover from physical exertion, I believe, could support healers in growing and becoming stronger from the intensity we experience in supporting others.
What steps can you take to support yourself in emotional recovery?
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