Surviving and Thriving in Cities and Organizations

 In Blog, Enjoy Life Your Way, News, On Coaching

(Time to read: ~4 minutes)

Summers can be hot and humid. Tempers can flare.

Do you ever find yourself coming to the end of the day feeling drained, battered, or numb?

Worn down by encounters with people who blamed you or others for things beyond your control?

Or who acted without consideration for your needs or the needs of others?

About Organizations and Cities

The facts are simple.

In any group of people, there is a certain percentage who do not know how to take responsibility for themselves and communicate in effective and connecting ways.

In cities and organizations, we are brought into close proximity with large numbers of people, and thus with larger numbers of this type of person.

Dealing with this multiple times a day can sap our energy and our enthusiasm for life.

What to do?misty morning with pier and boat - Version 2

The first step is to restore our energy through food and rest.

Sometimes, after a good sleep, things that were troubling and distressing the day before have vanished, like an early-morning mist in the light of the sun, and nothing more is needed.

But some things continue to bother us.

And we have a choice.

We can choose to let them be – like lumps under a carpet that we try to walk around, and that sometimes trip us up.

Or we can choose to tackle them, like a sinkful of dirty dishes, and create sparkling peace, clarity, and relief within ourselves.

I didn’t use to believe this was possible. I didn’t know that we have the power to consistently transform negative emotions and experiences into positive ones. But we do!

What It TakesHelp in lifting barbell

This process is somewhat like lifting weights. With practice, over time, we develop the capacity to “lift” ourselves out of more and more challenging negative situations.

The difference is in how we get started.

When I started physical weight training, I was able to start with very light weights – lighter than many of the things I carried every day. I didn’t need someone to help me lift them.

But when I started to learn how to lift my emotional “weights” – to create that transformative negative-to-positive shift – I discovered that the situations I had to deal with were all too heavy for me to shift on my own.

It was as though the only weights around were 100-pound barbells. And I couldn’t possibly lift them without support.

That seems to be the way we’re built as human beings in this culture.

We need supportive energy from outside of us to help us learn that this shift is possible, and how to do it, before we can start to do it on our own.

Deceptive Support versus Effective Support

There are a variety of forms of what I call “deceptive support” – things that other people do from a desire to support us that don’t actually help in the long run.

They may make us feel better in the short term. But, ultimately, they leave us stuck and disempowered.

Some examples include:

  1. Agreeing with us about the “horrible-ness” of some action or some person.
    I tend to like this in the short term. I feel validated and thus powerful by being “right”.
    But this doesn’t change what has happened, nor the possibility that it could happen again. So, very quickly, I actually feel more vulnerable and helpless.
  2. Agreeing that there’s nothing I can do, or could have done, to make things different.
    Again, in the short term, sometimes this is comforting – it supports me in accepting myself and my choices, rather than judging or blaming myself.
    But it still leaves me in that helpless, powerless place.
  3. Disagreeing with me.
    Or telling me what I could or should have done.
    Or explaining the other person’s point of view.
    I don’t generally enjoy any of these forms of “support”, even if I’ve asked for them.
    It’s as though I’m running down the road in one direction and someone jumps out in front of me and punches me in the chest. It hurts. It can make me feel angry. And it makes me want to avoid them.

Effective support on the other hand, leaves me feeling cared for, happier, and more powerful.

I feel hopeful about the situation, clear about the next steps I can take, and eager and enthusiastic to get started.

Characteristics of Effective Support

What does it take for support to have these kinds of effects?

  1. The other person needs to be more interested in supporting you to connect with your experience of a situation, than in telling you their good ideas.
  2. They need to be able to hear you – not just at the level of your words and emotions, but also at the level of what is truly important to you in the situation.
  3. They need to be able to give you the space you need to connect with your whole experience of the situation, in your own way, and in your own time – not rushing or pushing you to “move on” or “get over it”.
  4. They need to be able to keep up with your experience as it shifts from moment to moment – like a rapidly flowing river – not slowing you down or keeping you stuck by staying focused on something that was true a minute ago but is not true now.
  5. They need to be able to recognize when you’ve connected with all aspects of the situation, and when there are still some parts that have not yet been identified and explored.
    Trying to move forward with some aspects missing is like trying to make pizza without a crust – there can be lots of good stuff there, but it just won’t hold together.
  6. They need to know when it is time to focus on next steps, when it is too soon, and when it is too late – when it’s like an airplane that needs to gain altitude and circle around again before trying another landing.
  7. They need to know how to support you to find your own right next steps. And know that the best next steps are the ones that feel right for you.
    While at the same time having a sixth sense for strategies that are either not doable for you, or that are not likely to be effective in the situation.
    And they need to know how to share this information with you in a way that feels supportive and inspiring, rather than demoralizing or discouraging.

This kind of support is rare.

If you would like to experience it, you can book a free sample session at this link.

If you’ve already experienced it and would like more, you can book a coaching session here.

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Photo credits:

City – © jorisvo –

Misty morning – © jannol –

Weight lifting – © pressmaster –

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