What inner resources help you cope with demands, distractions, and disappointments?
“We are expected to do more in less time”
“Leadership doesn’t get how unrealistic their demands are.”
“I hold everything inside – I don’t sleep, I am depressed”
“We are constantly on – even on sick days and vacation, we are expected to to be accessible.”
“I work 12 hours a day and still don’t get everything done”
During one of my workshops, the above comments were answers to some probing questions I put forth to the group. Due to a recent change in senior leadership, these managers were expected to pass on changes to their staff that they didn’t have a say in creating and in many ways didn’t agree with. In addition to their usual work load, more demands and new systems were added to their responsibilities. When they were not implementing the “new way” as quickly as upper management expected them to, they were reprimanded. The room was filled with tension, anger, and silent stares.
Acknowledgement before action
As human beings when we go through difficult times, we want to know that others understand the impact of the experience. We want to know the listener “gets” how tough the situation is and to be validated. While this staff wanted the validation from me as the Trainer, who they really wanted it from was their immediate manager and the senior leadership of their organization.
This is just how it is
While the manager did acknowledge the realities of the demands and impact of the changes, the staff was told in essence “this is just how it is”. He went on to say “This job is not for the faint of heart. If the expectations are not a fit for you, it’s OK to move on. If you decide to stay, you need to be all in and adapt to the changes that are necessary in order to sustain our business.”
The manager explained further why the changes were necessary in order for the company to maintain a competitive advantage. Even though he acknowledged the stressful impact of 24/7 accessibility coupled with whatever personal stress people may be facing, the overall messages was this is just how it is and you have to decide if this job is for you.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:
the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
– Viktor Frankl
Perhaps you can relate to one of the employee quotes at the beginning of this blog. You may be facing a work and/or personal situation that is depleting your resources and taking a toll on your physical health and overall well-being. Your work demands may be overwhelming and unrealistic. You are spending more time at work than with your family.
Build your internal resources
A Law of nature is that the human body and mind need time for rest and recovery after times of exertion. Especially when facing circumstances beyond your control that deplete your resiliency reserves, it is essential to replenish your resources, both internal and external.
Research tells us that integrating intermittent practices of renewal into your day builds your inner resources and capacity to handle challenges better. When you become inundated with demands and a long “to do” list, practice one of the following:
1. Redirect your thoughts to what is going well when your mind wants to rehearse negative events, interactions, or an “us against them” mindset.
2. Remind yourself of your efforts and strengths, even when you don’t see results.
3. Read a favorite quote or meditation book that gives you inspiration. Biographies of those who have overcome incredible odds can shift your perspective from all that is wrong to what is working.
4. Record what you are grateful for. Writing has a way of cementing in new ways of thinking and behaving.
5. Resolve to take care of yourself. Two things are working against you every day – the brain’s natural tendency to focus on the negative and demands beyond your control. Resolve to develop practices that give you intermittent replenishment, even in the smallest of ways.
6. Pause for at least 10 seconds after something positive has happened, allowing it to sink in. Resist the temptation to move on to the next thing on your to do list. By taking this time to dwell on the positive, you are decreasing stress hormones and rewiring your brain with inner strengths such as resiliency, confidence, patience, and emotional balance.
7. Reach out to family/friends who give you genuine support. These are the people who do not judge and are there for you no matter what.
8. Maintain a sense of humor without becoming cynical or sarcastic. Laughter relieves tension and gives perspective.
These suggestions are not about positive thinking or pat answers to challenging situations. Rather taking action towards building your inner resources, especially when things are outside of your control. Though your circumstances may not change, you can integrate healthier ways of responding by being intentional to build your inner resources throughout your day.
Make the conscious choice to build your inner resources and you will face demands, distractions, and disappointments with more resolve and resilience
Share your comments about how you have built
your inner resources