Tag Archive: self-esteem

Another Opinion: Retirement Adjustments

In my Another Opinion posts, I answer questions that were asked of syndicated advice columns–providing another opinion.

In the July 30, 2015, Charlotte Observer a recent retiree asked Amy Dickinson how to respond to the question, “What do you do all day?” The retiree stated he was feeling put down for no longer working full time and signed his letter – Retired and Happy

Amy’s advice was fine, as far as it went, “Use it to begin a conversation that might be interesting.” (paraphrased)

Going deeper with the answer would be of more benefit to Retired and Happy.

Humans use labels to describe ourselves. Many labels are attached to us even before we’re born (i.e. our age, racial heritage, socioeconomic class, etc.) Others labels are attached to us as soon as we’re born (gender, healthy, unhealthy, fussy, good, etc.). This pattern continues throughout life.  We then internalize those labels and use them to define who we are. Our self-esteem is often tied to the labels we accept as self-defining. Life is a series of stages that we pass through. We define ourselves by the labels attached to us at specific stages (student, adult, single, married, divorced, doctor, graduate, lawyer, businessman, athlete, parent, retiree, etc.)

When we transition from one stage (label) to another it is important that we stop judging our worth based on a label we have outgrown.

  • The former student who continues to judge herself by always being right becomes afraid to take risks she should take because she is still attempting to get straight A’s. As a businesswoman, she has to learn to take risks if she wants to succeed.
  • The newly married individual can experience significant adjustments such as making sure the plans he makes don’t conflict with his wife’s plans.
  • The college football linebacker has to adjust his diet when he gets a desk job because he is no longer burning as many calories.
  • The working woman decides to stay home to raise her children has to adjust her perception of self or she will be frustrated at the lack of intellectual stimulation and adult interaction she receives, which can result in her seeming needy to her spouse who is still going to an outside job each day.
  • The wife whose stay-at-home husband returns to the workforce after the children go to college must adjust her expectations about the chores he will continue doing at home, or he will feel overburdened.
  • The recently disabled individual must adjust the basis of his self-worth if it was tied to his physical prowess or face extra and unnecessary problems with plummeting self-esteem on top of dealing with the physical challenges.

The recent retiree who feels a bit defensive when people ask him what he does all day is reflecting that he feels less valuable now that he is no longer going to working. Seniors have significant value that is unique to them–the wisdom each of us gains from life experiences. He is simply using old criteria to judge the worth of his current activities. A simple adjustment in the basis for his self-worth will enable him to see the question about how he spends his days as the innocent conversation it is and not a condemnation of his choice to retire. It may take a little work to adjust the basis because many of us are taught that we are only valuable when we are contributing through work, but a change of perception is possible and will make life better for him.

Until he makes this shift, he will have difficulty taking this common question into stride, despite his great answer, “Whatever I want.” He’ll enjoy his ability to do whatever he wants far more when he’s not fighting a sense that his value as a human being is less because he is retired. It’s not.

 

 


Believe in Yourself

Our Gifts

Everyone has gifts they have the potential to give the world, their community and their family. Too often these gifts remain hidden because we do not believe in our ability or our potential.

If you ever discourage a dream–your own or someone else’s–ask yourself what gifts your discouragement may be holding back from the world.

Humans have an amazing capacity to rise to the occasion when given the chance. Without hope of success, we don’t give ourselves the chance.

If this post can inspire even one person to at least try to follow one of their dreams, it has succeeded.

We barely know what hidden depths lie in ourselves. So often people are surprised by what they are capable of given the opportunity (or sometimes, the challenge). How can we possibly know what another could do?

Believe in Yourself

Christopher Maloney did not believe in himself for years. He filled out the application to be on X-factor five times and then tore it up because he did not have enough faith in himself to be on the show. Others discouraged him and told him he was not good enough. Finally, after moving in with his Nan to take care of her, her faith convinced him to try. Here is the result:

One of my teachers once said something that I think is totally appropriate to say to everyone, “What right do you have to deprive the world of your gifts?”

Magic happens when you believe in yourself.

The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. Motivational Background

The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. Motivational Background

What would it take for you to believe in your dreams? Whatever that is–Do it. Trust yourself.

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Burnout in High Stress Occupations: Solutions

Employee Engagement

Recent studies have reported employee engagement levels at or below 30%. Traditional methods of employee engagement attempt to change the corporate culture and management in order to change the employees. But older wisdom tells us that true change must come from within. After decades of using the traditional approach with dismal results (30% of employees are engaged), isn’t it time to give another method a try? The results could hardly be worse.

Burnout in High Stress Occupations

Worldwide, burnout in high stress occupations is taking a toll and causing concerns. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where physicians and nurses are experiencing burnout with two dire consequences. 1) The care they are able to provide is lower as a result of the burnout, and 2) They are leaving the field and taking their years of training, hand in hand engagement burnout resilience-001expertise and experience with them.This is not good for the employees, the employers, or the public. Burnout and lack of employee engagement go hand in hand.

We need a better solution and there is a mountain of evidence pointing to resilience as the missing piece. Resilience stands alone as the most important factor in maintaining employee engagement.

“The failure or loss of resilience in physicians leads to burn-out, which is a major concern in medical centres because of its impact on health care.” (Eley et al, 2013)

If you step back and look at the relationship between employee engagement and resilience, it becomes easy to see why addressing engagement by attempting to change the environment instead of strengthening employees is failing.

Perhaps employers are reluctant to spend their resources strengthening employees who can leave the organization. I can see how easy that objection to strengthening employees could be made. I also see how short sighted it is.

Beyond a certain point, the work and work environment is far more important to employees than compensation. If that weren’t true, many occupations would have to pay a great deal more to get anyone to do the work.

Does management affect culture? Yes, of course. But a resilient employee can thrive under a bad manager because that employee will respond in ways that support his or her own continued engagement. Resilience relies heavily on mindset. With the last really bad boss I had, I developed several mantras that helped me remain engaged with the work and the company even though I had no respect or trust for the boss I had caught lying and deliberately wasting company resources. At the time I worked for one of what I call the “Big Box banks” and in my time there my bosses tended to last 6 – 8 months, then I’d report to the Senior Vice President until a new boss was hired. I loved working directly for the SVP because of the mutual respect we’d developed over the years. The main thing I had to do to remain engaged in my role was remind myself that the bad boss would be gone soon.

Okay, yes, that is over simplification. But the other perspectives I took to feel better all flowed easily once that one was in place. Did I thrive? Yes. In fact, it was while working under that boss that I was promoted to Vice President. I also did not stress about him after hours. If my mind began ruminating about what he had done that was irritating, frustrating or infuriating I would remind myself that he would be gone soon, which enabled me to let it go. Was he gone soon? Yes. In fact, I’ve noticed that most really bad bosses don’t last too long–not just for myself but also with friends and family.

Who suffers most under a bad boss? It is not the most vulnerable. I was a single Mom raising two children on my own. It is the one who believe the current problem is going to be permanent. The ones who worry not just about today, but about what it will be like working for that bad boss in six months or six years. It is those who do not believe they can do anything about the situation.

Interestingly, those same traits are associated with depression. Ruminating, anxiety, and unnecessary worry make someone vulnerable–not their life circumstances.

What Difference Does this Make?

If your employees are not resilient, adverse circumstances can quickly lead to a lack of engagement. You cannot control the circumstances the employee works under. There are too many moving parts. You have some control over these parts but no control over most of them. The employer cannot control whether or not the:

  • Employee gets adequate sleep before coming to work
  • Employee’s children are cooperative while they prepare for the day ahead
  • Employee eats breakfast
  • Employee argues with members of their family before coming to work (or even during work)
  • The morning commute goes well (millions of moving parts here including other drivers being rude, getting  a ticket, having an accident, car breakdowns, spilling coffee, heavy traffic, noticing weeds allowed to flourish in a neighbor’s yard, a song on the radio that makes the employee feel sad, flat tires, parking issues, and more)
  • Other employees are rude to the employee
  • Customers are rude to the employee
  • Employee likes the way coffee in the breakroom was prepared
  • Employee has minor illnesses or aches/pains (i.e. tension headaches, minor stomach upset, indigestion, sore muscles, etc.)
  • Employee is worried about personal finances
  • Employee is worried about a child being bullied, skipping school, having sex, drinking, doing drugs, smoking or other undesired activities
  • Employee is worried about the health of a personal relationship
  • Employee is worried about a loved one for an unlimited number of reasons
  • Employee feels loved or appreciated by anyone
  • Employee finds meaning in their work (this is a function of perception–not the role)

The above list may seem lengthy but it is far from an exhaustive list of factors that contribute to the employee’s performance on any given day. If the employee works with others, whether bosses, peers, or subordinates each factor would be multiplied by each of the people with whom the employee has interactions.

The bottom line is that the employer cannot control the work environment beyond a very limited scope. How the employee responds to the circumstances has a far greater impact on employee engagement than anything the employer can do. Resilient employees respond to life’s ups and downs in ways that allow them to bounce back. What is a deep valley to an employee who lacks resilience is a mere pothole to the resilient employee.

The Good news is

Resilience is a learnable skill. (Cloninger & Cloninger, 2011)

Resilience leads to desirable traits including:

  • Being responsible
  • Perseverance
  • Psychological and Behavioral maturity
  • Cooperation
  • Optimism
  • Self-direction

Resilience is associated with a lack of unnecessary worry, anxiety, and negative rumination.

Building A Resilient Culture

You can build a resilient culture that will support and encourage engagement by teaching employees skills that increase their personal resilience. Once taught, there will be a natural tendency to support and strengthen that culture.

We all know, intuitively, that we want to feel good. Resilience feels better than the alternative. Working with other people who are resilient creates an atmosphere that is positive and nurturing. There is less competitiveness within the organization and more cooperation toward accomplishing shared goals. There is a greater desire to better oneself because the belief that doing so will have a positive outcome increases in the resilient individual. There is greater focus on solutions and less frustration with problems.

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Maimonides

Teaching employees the skills that lead to resilience is like teaching them to fish. Once acquired the skills are used because using them feels better than not using them. In an organization where all employees are being taught the skills the opportunities for positive reinforcement will help them quickly develop new habits of behavior and thought. The way these skills are taught makes individuals more receptive to feedback about course adjustments than they were before.

If you’re not satisfied with your employee engagement numbers or you’re concerned about burnout, contact us today for a free consultation. You’ll be glad you did.

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P.S. The other great benefit with our program? The way we increase resilience also increases Emotional Intelligence (EQ), an essential trait of leaders who can go the distance.

 


Verbal Abuse Worse Than Physical Abuse?

Resilience alters the outcome of childhood trauma and abuse in a positive way. This is important because the level of abuse (physical, sexual, and verbal) is over 30%. Recent research has also demonstrated that verbal abuse often has the worst long-term negative impact. This seems counter to what we feel the greatest revulsion to, but when evaluated for the day-to-day life-long effect, this outcome begins to make more sense.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal (psychological) abuse tends to create repetitive negative thoughts. Depending on your age, imagine a record, CD, or MP3 playing over and over again, undermining your ability to believe in yourself or even like yourself.

Psychological abuse of a child is a pattern of intentional verbal or behavioral actions or lack of actions that convey to a child the message that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else’s needs.”

For the most part, Americans tolerate far higher levels of psychological abuse than are healthy. We welcome television shows into our home where abusive behaviors are modeled and often considered humorous. Just because such behaviors are common does not make them healthy. Our paradigm about healthy behavior needs to shift and education is the key. Many of the parents are merely repeating the behavior they witnessed as children or are emulating what they’ve seen on television with no awareness of the long-term consequences to children they love and want the best for. It is lack of knowledge, not lack of goodness, that leads to most psychological abuse. We remain silent when we witness parents demeaning their children in public. We do not have acceptable social interventions to help educate others about the potential long term consequences of their behavior.

I will probably always remember a young Mother in the grocery store telling her toddler how stupid he was for putting a can of food she had sat next to him in the cart into his mouth. There are times when I will say something but other times, such as that one, I felt any effort to educate her would be met with repudiations and possibly resentment for my interference. I was tired that day but what will be the long term consequences to that child of his Mother not knowing the damage she was doing by labeling her son stupid? Humans live up to the expectations others put upon us (Pygmalion effect (PDF)).
The damage is made worse by our tendency to teach our children to hide their feelings, to “keep a stiff upper lip” or “be strong.” There is nothing wrong with being strong but everyone needs a time and place where they feel they can safely release pent-up frustration, emotional hurt and anger or it becomes an infected wound that will eventually cause greater problems.

If the following behaviors are commonly tolerated in your home, consider modifying the behavior.

  • Frequent yelling or screamingVerbal Abuse
  • Using “the silent treatment” on family or friends to show displeasure or disappointment
  • Negative comparisons to others
  • Treating one another as if the person does not have significant value or worth
  • Destroying treasured possessions or memories
  • Mind games designed to make the victim question his or her sanity
  • Misplaced blame (i.e. blaming a child for a parent’s problems)
  • Sabotaging a child’s plans (such as withdrawing permission for a desired activity or making plans that interfere with the activity without a good reason and/or to deliberately interfere with the child’s ability to enjoy the activity.
  • Showing favoritism is a form of discrimination and can have life long consequences to self-worth to the disfavored child and neuroticism for the favored child.
  • Inappropriate conversations with children about other family members that create distrust, emotional pain, etc.
  • Compulsive lying and denial of promises madeVerbal Abuse
  • Deliberately painting the child in a negative light to others
  • Teaching the child to perceive the world in ways that will interfere with success (i.e. encouraging racism)
  • Encouraging socially or legally unacceptable behaviors (i.e. violence, bullying, alcohol and drug use, theft, lying)
  • Rage and ridicule of the child or of other members of the household
  • Isolating the child from appropriate social interactions
  • Too much or too little control over the child for age and development level (leaving the child alone for long periods of time or sitting with an older teen for hours every night supervising homework completion
  • Repeated and frequent sarcasm
  • Setting unrealistic expectations and then demeaning the child for not meeting the unattainable expectations

In time our society will recognize the undesired consequences of these abusive behaviors. All mentally healthy parents want the best for their children. Those with less than optimal mental health also usually want the best for their children but do not understand how to provide the nurturing environment. It is not that parents with the most emotional and mental damage do not want the best for their children so much as it is their own needs are far from met so meeting those of a child is beyond their ability unless and until their needs are addressed.

Many of our television shows demonstrate psychologically abusive behavior as if it is normal behavior. Well, it may be normal in our day and age but at some point in the future it will be widely recognized for the dysfunctional behavior it is.

You and your family will benefit from recognizing it sooner rather than later.

If you recognize some of these behaviors as your own but believe you cannot stop, please seek help. Professional help can work wonders when the individual is motivated to change. If you’re more inclined to seek improvement through learning, one of our classes will provide the information you need to know so that you can change ingrained behavioral and thought patterns. Behavior is largely the result of habit. When you understand how to successfully change the habits, you can change anything about yourself that you wish to change.Verbal Abuse

You don’t have to live with that negative voice in your head. It is not who you are. You are worthy of more, of a better life than you can enjoy with that repetitive negativity robbing you of your joy.

Children know at a very young age when the words hurt. When a child this young is covering his ears in response to the words being spoken it is a sign that the way the child is interpreting the words is damaging his self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem is critical if the child is to fulfill his potential in life. It is much easier to sustain healthy self-esteem than it is to build it back up after it has suffered damage.

You want the best for your family. If behavioral patterns in your home do not support the best outcomes, take action. You are not stuck. Improvement is possible–but not if you continue doing as you’ve always done. Changing the outcome begins by changing behavior.

Contact us today to see how we can help.


Does Retaining and Motivating Your Employees Keep You Awake at Night?

Retaining and Motivating

Retaining and Motivating Employees

One of the greatest risks companies currently face is retaining their talent as the job market begins to feel safer to employees who have hunkered down during the down economy. They stuck with you–perhaps pulling double duty without raises–to help you weather the storm. Positions that were cut or not replaced meant a loss of institutional knowledge that now resides in the brains of fewer people, increasing the risk when key players decide to move on.

You are tasked with motivating and retaining these people. How can you do this within existing budget constraints with competing demands on corporate resources?

How do we accomplish these goals and so much more?

The root cause of motivation to do a good job and motivation to stay with a specific employer is related at the root cause. We understand how to provide employees with skills that help them self-manage their perspectives that results in better-feeling perspectives. These perspectives help you check all the boxes and a whole lot more.

For example, feeling appreciated is both a matter of the actual feedback and the perception of that feedback by the receiver. If the receiver has a negative voice in his head that refutes the truth of the positive feedback, for all intents and purposes it feels as if no feedback was given. Or,even worse, the negative voice can convince the employee that things are worse than they thought they were before the feedback.

Job Security is another area where perception really matters. I’ve worked along side people who were full of fear while I, with much greater financial responsibilities and less flexibility (i.e. single parent household) did not feel afraid at all. We provide employees with skills that help them form more realistic perspectives that invariably feel more secure. The most stable company cannot convince someone whose brain is telling them to be afraid to feel secure. The employee has to be empowered to find that perspective by understanding why they perceive it the way they do and providing skills that give them the option to find a better perspective.

Career Opportunities are part perception and part communication. I’ve seen employees leave a company where there were many opportunities but the employee perceived those opportunities as not available to her. It really boiled down to low self-esteem and self-selection as not a viable candidate–not lack of opportunity. Our program increases open communication and self-esteem.

When the root cause is addressed, the benefits flow throughout the system. We can even help you sleep better at night.