Understanding Yourself & Your Trauma Through Processing

 

We have all had an experience that shaped us, changed us, challenged us…hurt us. And what we did right after it happened sent a ripple effect through time of what came next in our life.

It does not matter if what you experienced came from a natural disaster, an illness of some kind, or through someone you know. The one thing that ties all of us together through these experiences is that is was traumatic on some level.

Before I can go on, I want to focus for a moment on the word “traumatic”. We each have our own lives that we are walking through. And within our lives, we have gone through these experiences…and because they are our own, it is not fair for any one of us to judge the trauma someone went through or compare it in any way. This is easy to do. We have our own levels of tolerance and acceptance to different kinds of things that happen. Maybe you’ve lived through an earthquake and find pettiness in someone else’s response to their first earthquake. But to flip the coin over, perhaps the breakup you just had is the “be all – end all” of breakups that the person you just scoffed at, has dealt with time and time again because now… they feel no-one loves them.

We each have our own trauma. But how we deal with it in the days after will change us forever.

The rule of thumb for handling trauma is understanding it. I know this can sound simple, but as we all know from our own experiences, trauma is never simple – otherwise, it wouldn’t, in fact, be, traumatic.

In the immediate hours and days after the trauma, the typical reaction is chaos. This chaos is sometimes shown in our actions and words as we navigate our next steps, and other times it can only be seen when being questioned. By this, I simply mean, our mind is a mess. It could feel like a tornado rushed through your mind and took everything you knew and scattered it everywhere – and you have no idea how to pick up the pieces. This type of reaction is often unseen because, from the outside, you look fine, you act fine…but deep inside you are a mess.

So as I said. The first rule of this is to understand what you just experienced. This often means writing down what it is you understand to have just gone through. Perhaps a breakup. Perhaps a job loss. Maybe abuse…or you feel so alone that no one even knows you exist.

  1. Write it down so you can fully grasp, on paper, what it is you are experiencing.
  2. The next step is to check your emotions.

I don’t mean, ignore them. Far from it. I literally want you to write down each emotion you feel, and in any form, you feel it. Simply saying “Anger”, may not be sufficient. Are you “outraged”? “Pissed off”? The list goes on…

The reason for listing each one is because there is a reason you feel them. This might seem elementary, but we don’t feel emotion for any or no apparent reason. There is always a cause. The emotion is the reaction to what happened.

Write down your emotions, and then, note down why you feel that way. This doesn’t have to make sense right now, but it will at some point. Minutes, hours even weeks may go by when suddenly the planets aligned and you can make sense of what that note means to you.

That’s it. “Only two steps? Is this guy serious?” Yes, indeed I am.

A few years ago I was given the news that my heart wasn’t all I thought it was. My heart was suffering and it couldn’t perform in the manner it should to live a normal life. This literally sent my world into a spiral. I was in the USAF at the time and was being sent packing because I was no longer fit to serve. Everything changed. And I had no idea how to process any of it. I knew tomorrow was going to come, and the day after that…and weeks after that – but I had no idea what to do with myself when they arrived.

It wasn’t until I started to learn more about what was going on with me, and processing using this same approach that I was able to finally get a grip on reality and move in the direction that I needed to move in. Before that, it felt like I was blindfolded and told to find the door to escape (oh but watch out, there are traps everywhere!)

Using this process to understand yourself and the trauma you experienced will allow you the opportunity to gain some control back. I am not promising that things will suddenly feel right again, or that the wrongs will be righted. What I am telling you is that you can start to piece things together again sooner than you thought possible. You still have a life to live. And the fact that you have experienced this trauma, and are still here means you haven’t given up. Neither have I.

 

These are my thoughts for the Day.

 

A Chance or An Opportunity

We tend to hear from people that they had a chance to do this, or that. They had a chance to go somewhere, or a chance to experience something – but didn’t.

I think the bigger picture we are missing here is the Opportunity. And I don’t mean the opportunity to go to that place, or experience that thing; I mean something much deeper than that.

When we see something as an opportunity, and I mean truly see it in the bigger picture sense, we can find that the place we go to or the experience we long for provides an opportunity to grow, learn, give, receive etc.

Changing our mind to see the choices we make as opportunities instead seems like a simple thing. And why would I even bother writing about it, right? Well, to be honest, sometimes it is the simpler things that stump us. We can see the idea of climbing Mt. Everest and figure out a way to accomplish it with the resources and training necessary to get to the top! But when it comes to something as “basic” as changing how we view something – that can be daunting.

An opportunity invites the prospect of new and creative things. Taking a chance simply means it will fail or work out. But regardless of failure, the opportunity way fo seeing it is that you can find new things to be proud of and learn from.

For example. Let’s say you wanted to become a painter. But not just any painter – you wanted to paint other peoples houses and make a business out of it. You could view this as taking a chance and hoping it works out for the best. Or, you can view this as an opportunity and realize that it actually isn’t about if it “works out or not”, but more so what you gain and give back to others by doing it. Someone out there will have a nicely painted house, and you will have learned a few ways of how not to do something – which makes you smarter. But if for some reason, after a few months of hard work, this adventure just isn’t working out – that’s ok. You didn’t lose out. You gained perspective. You learned new skills. Gained experience. And just as important as learning what you ARE good at…you also learned what you might not be good at.

So the next time you face a “chance” at doing something or going somewhere. Change “chance” to ” OPPORTUNITY”, and see what happens.

You might surprise yourself…

 

These are my thoughts for the day.

 

Sometimes being a Team Player, means sitting on the Bench and not Playing

We want to be on the team! We practice, we hustle, we do our very best to make sure we are #1 as much as possible.

We have this “look at me” persona, and then when the spotlight isn’t shining our way, we feel betrayed. Disappointed. Heartbroken. Worthless.

But, being a really good team player isn’t just knowing yourself. It isn’t just about our strengths and our own weaknesses (which if you haven’t noticed there are none because we are brilliant!)

A good team player notices who is on the team with them. If we want to be a good teammate, if we want to show up on game day, we are going to realize who we are playing with and what their strengths are, and also what’s their weaknesses are.

Sometimes…you have to sit down and let the other person get the spotlight for a while. Because if you don’t, and you hog the glory for yourself it could be short lived!

You might miss when they would slam dunk. You might lose when the other person sells it properly.

Your moment of glory might cripple the future success. This “in the moment pleasure” we get from taking the spotlight might be the only good vibe we get all day. Because now the deal is done, and it’s too late!

But if we can recognize that we are not the best at everything, and the person to our left or to our right might actually be better at something than you and I – then maybe by sitting down and getting out of the way, we might all be giving high fives later because we won the game – we got the sale.

Only then are we a true team player. We allowed the people around us to achieve something. We had the opportunity to build up our coworkers and let them feel like they deserved to be there.

Everyone on the team has a role and a place. It’s up to you and me as leaders and as great team players to see it and embrace it.

Not only will you succeed as a whole, but personally too. Your teammates will look up to you and take your seriously and others will respond to you and with eagerness because they know you will listen.

Sometimes being the best means sitting down or stepping aside.

Are You Working Dangerously?

 

If you have read any of my posts so far, you probably already know that I am not referring to someone that works with harsh chemicals, or explosives. (Although that is dangerous!)

I am instead referring to a whole new level of danger. One that many of us probably do not think about on a day to day basis, and yet, experience it on some level all the time without even realizing that is as dangerous as I am making it out to be. So – what could this danger be?

I am talking about work safety. Not the kind where you need to make sure you wear your protective eyewear, but more so of the dangers of working with others.

There are plenty of moments where we can feel isolated, humiliated, pressured, insecure, on guard, rejected and of course, stressed. We all feel these from time to time, but where those come from are not exactly a mystery – at least not anymore. You might be surprised if I pointed out the obvious, which is that these feelings all come from our inner workplace. (Strange way of saying that isn’t it?) I say inner because the company we work for has two forces. There is the inner, as just mentioned, and the outer. The outer is everything that happens to a company. Sales, stock market changes, new technology, weather and everything else you can think of. Inner, however, is all about what happens inside the company. New employees, old employees retiring or quitting, policy changes, wages, politics, and the list goes on.

So what is so dangerous about the inner workplace? Sadly, a lot of our negative experiences come from the people we work with. It’s not the task at hand that makes us feel nervous or scared. It’s what will happen if we miss the deadline or don’t perform. Even then, what will happen is the consequence, but it’s coming from a person we work with or for. All those harsh realities come from the people we have to look up to, to figure if we did a good job this time or not. If there is a lack of trust between the leaders of the company and those doing the work, then these negative aspects are magnified 10 fold.

How do we then turn this into a positive vibe where everyone can feel like they are valued and trusted? I am glad you asked.

Leaders that really want to lead instead of boss people around, should really start thinking about how they can protect the people they work with. Anyone can bark orders and push people around and feel like they are king of the castle (or queen!), but a real leader is one that takes themselves out of the equation and looks at everyone they are responsible for and figures out a way to make them feel accepted and appreciated.

When we don’t take care of the people in out circle, those that we are responsible for, we force the employees to migrate into smaller huddles. They will gravitate to people who they see eye-to-eye with and stay there because there is always that feeling of safety in numbers. No one wants to feel alone, especially when their job is on the line. Their work output will suffer and their fears will multiply. Animosity will grow towards the person or people that made them feel this way, and before you know it, they have either walked out the door or done something to make the company suffer as a form of payback. The crummy part is that employee was probably worth keeping around – bit now it is too late.

Employees need a sense of belonging. They need to know that they are cared for, no matter what happens. The isolation goes away, work returns to a solid and steady outflow and the company will generally claim the reward because of it. But this applies to the leaders too. They also need protection from people above them. So as you can see, this whole process has to be seen and used by the entire company for it work effectively. We are all human at the end of the day, and we all have a life to deal with outside of the workplace. We should try our best to make the office or wherever you are a safer place to work that doesn’t feel so dangerous anymore.

These are my thoughts for the day.

Trust Should Be The Work Standard

 

There are many of us that have, do, or quite possibly will enter into a workforce that requires a certain responsibility of work done. This could be a factory line, store employee, accountant, salesman – or any number of work types. An expectation of output is required in order to call the work day successful, or in order to say that the company has been hitting the numbers needed to say it will be profitable. But for those of us on the ground, the workforce behind it all, what if the work day could look a little differently? What if Trust was the new standard?

Trust comes from a place of upper management loosening the reigns a little on those that they oversee. This requires leadership of a certain caliber, to understand that too many hands-on tactics can actually ruin the worker that is so desperately being pressured to perform. Anyone can bark orders or always be present to make sure things are done to the boss’ liking. But those of us that can trust the people they oversee, they are the ones that will see results that far surpass those that cannot let go.

Trust starts with empathy. Empathy can go a long way when it comes to the people you oversee. Realizing that the individuals around you are not machines, and that life happens to them too will change a whole lot about who you can treat them. But the only way to have empathy is to listen. I mean really hear them out. Sure, complaints about the job are always a “thing” in any work environment, but those that speak from the heart will show you a path to empathy that you might have never known about otherwise.

Of course, in order to make any of this work, it has to be actionable. There needs to be a reaction to the words being heard. We can’t simply say “so sorry that’s happening…good luck to you!” This will only end up bad for the listeners. When employees present cases of how they feel things can change for the better, or struggles they are having on the job, it might be time to consider doing something that changes their tune.

Employees that now suddenly feel heard and cared about, tend to represent themselves with pride instead of showing up because they have to punch the clock. Being a boss (on any level) can and will have challenges, but they will get easier when you see a group of employees that actually want to be there. And just for the company – now they want to be there for each other! Imagine that. Coming into work because you actually cared about the man or woman beside you. Because working wasn’t working for the company anymore, it was working for the team, or family you are now suddenly apart of.

So for all the leaders out there, and you know who you are. Perhaps it’s time to take another look at who you are trying to lead. Do you listen to them? Do you do your best to help them? OR are you just cracking the whip because you think that this is how results are made? I hope this quick blog has changed your mind on that or at least made you curious to see for yourself…

These are my thoughts for the day.

Recognition – VS – Sacrifice

…”the will to succeed and the desire to things that advance the interests of the organization aren’t just motivated by recognition from above; they are integral to a culture of sacrifice and service, in which protection comes from all levels of the organization.”
– Leaders Eat Last

Recognition from above being our bosses and supervisors. The pat on the back that says you are a good employee! This isn’t inherently bad – but it won’t fulfill the big picture, personally or professionally.

What we read here is that we need to be willing to sacrifice for the sake of providing the level of service that sets us apart.

Are you going above and beyond? Are you taking the extra steps to believe in the mission? Success doesn’t live on pats on the back by a boss that may not always be there…we win when we fulfill our true mission of service with a cause.

These are my thoughts for the day.

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I personally had no idea. I assumed since I played the drums, that I would just be in a band and travel the world and be famous. (Guess how that turned out.)

If you have a child, or children regardless of age, raise your hand.

(You can put your hand down now.)

I used to have this mindset, this way of thinking that we all know and love that went something like this:

“When my kid grows up, I hope he becomes successful.”

Recognize that? When we were in school, we might have been asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And understandably, we may have assumed that up until that point that we were not successful and could only be successful if we made our dream job come true.

Pop quiz: How many of you are actually doing the job you said when you were a child? (Probably only a handful of us actually went there for real.)

So going back to the people reading with kids. I have a new way of thinking about this type of question now. I don’t think about the future of my child and the success that might come. Instead, I approach each day of what might become successful on that day.

For example. My son is now 14-months old. He’s a cutie for sure, and I love that little guy to pieces.

He’s figured out walking down to a science, and just recently managed to do some excellent crawling uphill in a play area which, when he reached the top, made him super excited and very proud of himself. I got to witness that. I got to help him achieve that. On that day, he was successful. On that day he hit a goal whether he realized it or not.

It doesn’t matter if you are working your dream job right now or not. In some cases, it’s almost better for you if you are not working that dream career choice. This should motivate you to be better, do better and turn yourself into something greater than the day before.

Success comes from everything and everything we do. Are you not the morning person you think you ought to be? Need that second or third cup of coffee before anyone dares acknowledge your existence?  Sounds to me like that is something you can overcome and call a success later on.

That is just one example. I don’t know where you work, or what you do when you are there. But you do. And you have already thought about something within each work day that you can be better at. Own it and turn it into a success.

Success fits all people with all backgrounds. Success is not handed out though, and you have to be ready to go for the goal. Are you ready?

So let me ask you again but in a different style this time…

What do you want to be today?

These are my thoughts for the day.

 

 

You Realize That You Didn’t, Right?

Would you rather finish last, or close to it, or not finish at all?

Would you rather put in some effort, or watch as everyone else goes for gold?

Would you rather be seen as someone who made an attempt, or the person who walked away?

I think you can see where I am going here. I cannot tell you how many times I have had conversations with random strangers and found myself on this type of topic. The conversation usually going something like this:

“How are you?”

“Doing well thanks, where you headed?”

“Oh, I am on this next flight at gate 12.”

“What do you do for a living?”….and the conversation last a few more minutes here. And then they ask what I do.

“Well, I do have a day job but I’m also publishing my third book right now, and writing my fourth.”

And that is usually when it hits people, and they start spilling. I don’t tell people that to brag at being 32 (currently), and “oh look at me”. But rather to get a point across without even saying it.

Most of the people I talk to are older than me and they say nice things about my accomplishments. And then they tell me about what they WISH they had done with their time and energy. Or what they might do, but they are getting older now, and it seems less likely.

And then there are the occasional younger people I come across with the same conversation that sees what I have done and being only a few years older, now don’t think they can do anything for themselves because they feel it should have happened by now.

I want to encourage anyone with any dream or goal to just start. If you want to do something special in your life, then just go for it. If you want that dream job, get going and get started towards it. If you want the dream boat or house, start aiming for it. I don’t care what it is you want to do or become – you have to start somewhere.

I chuckle at the saying “A journey of 10,000 miles starts with a single step.” (Or however, it actually goes!) I chuckle because I used to say to myself, “yeah but that’s a heck of a lot of steps to reach 10,000 miles!” And with that logic, I was a non-starter. Now? I am a finisher. My last book is going to take me some time to write. I have a full-time job, 3 other books to market and let’s not forget a wife and child to make sure I spend quality time with.

That. Won’t. Stop. Me!

So I challenge you, here and now. What is it you have been putting off? Maybe something at home or at work? Perhaps a relationship that needs mending, or just needs to start but you’ve been on the fence this entire time?

Go. Do. Be. Become.

These are my thoughts for the day.

 

 

Emergencies Don’t Have Schedules – But Your Wallet Does!

No one wants to have an Emergency – yet they always happen.

The world we live in is not a safe place by any means. Danger and despair lurk around every corner. Every time we drive our cars we are putting ourselves at risk of injury or worse. Sometimes it’s the job we do to pay the bills. Regardless of what it is, danger is everywhere.

I’m not saying we should baby proof our homes (even without having a baby in the house) and then lock ourselves in. But we can be prepared for the worst financially. I personally have avoided the ER just because I know how much it will sting later when I get the bill. And there are many people out there (maybe you), who avoid it when you know you must go in, but can’t afford the blow of the ER bill when the dust settles. I get it.

Our wallet is set up to pay our bills and get some food in the fridge and gas in our cars. We often don’t think we have room for things like Emergencies. But I am here to tell you to make room – or else!

Or else? (Queue the Dun Dun Dunnnn music)

If we don’t have plans in place to handle these types of things, we will all end up swimming in medical debt. And yes, I realize it’s not like a credit card where the interest rate just makes life more miserable. But, medical debt, if not straightened out right away will impact your credit score, just like not paying on a credit card would. So it is important to be able to do something about when the time comes.

The way I see it, there are 2 options. If you can do them both, then you are in a good place. If you can only do one, you will still survive!

Step 1 – The Financial Planner

Regardless of what your budget is, pay your bills and make sure you can eat and get to work and back. Once that is done, set aside a dollar amount each pay check (not each month, unless you only get paid once a month). Notice I didn’t say a percentage or a specific amount. That is for you to decide. If you tend to visit the hospital or even doctor office more than others, perhaps think of a higher number than you might have if you don’t visit these places that often at all. Either way, any number is better than nothing.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, touch this money. Only use it to ay medical bills once they show up. Depending on how much you have saved they could eliminate a bill, or maybe all the bills depending on how many different departments got hold of you during your stay. Because you took that step to save something in advance, you can knock out those bill quick and easy.

If you have the budget for it – I also want you to set aside in your bill paying money a dollar amount for medical bills. For an example, let’s say $25 per pay check which will average about $50 per month depending on your pay scale. Every month you can allocate $50 to one or multiple medical bills. Similar to a credit card, the goal is to pay off the smallest first and work your way up to the biggest bill. If you have 3 medical bills, put $10 towards the 2 big ones, and then $30 to the smaller. Once the little one is paid off, you can do $10 to the big one and $40 to the smaller. Once that is paid off, all $50 goes to the only bill you have until it is paid off. Keep in mind, this is just an illustration, the actual dollar amount for you might be different.

Step 2 – I need to stay afloat

For some of us, step 1 might not be that feasible. Sure maybe there can be a few dollars each month in the bill paying money, but saving too? You’re crazy! Yeah, I get it. It won’t be for everyone (at least not right away…stay tuned because you will be able to do it!)

When the medical bills start rolling in, I want you to call the office that the payments go to and communicate with them about any financial hardships and what you can do for a payment plan, and, if you are in such a hard place, maybe even a reduction in your bill. (It can happen – it just depends on circumstances and how much work you want to do with their paperwork to see if you qualify.)

Communicating with the hospital or doctor office is paramount for this to work. If you don’t reach out, failure waits for you soon after! So call them!!  🙂

Being on a plan of some kind will allow you to throw all the medical bills into one pile, and pay on them with a structured plan. This isn’t the fastest and obviously not the nicest way to go about eliminating medical debt, but it will get you there eventually.

The Benefit To You

Here is the part where I said you will be able to save. Once the medical debt is wiped clean, don’t stop paying for it! I know that sounds strange. Take that money, and start saving it in an account or wherever suits you best. You will have adapted your life to this habit enough to be used to paying it, so just keep doing it. It will be a healthy practice, and now you can also save for the Emergency you didn’t plan for.

 

I know this blog was a long one – but I feel it is important to share it because it can help so many with something so crippling in this country. Medical debt is outrageous in this day and age, and most people suffer every month because of it. It’s not fun, it’s not pretty and we don’t like paying for it – but the reality is there, and hopefully what I have shared with you today will help guide you into a more productive place to deal with it.

 

These are my thoughts for the day.

Figure Out Your Role In The Team!

What kind of player are you at work?

Sometimes we get to work alone, and other teams we are tasked to work things out in a team effort. But how do you know you are being the best player on that team effort? Sometimes it can be hard to tell, where other people just know it works because you can see and feel the energy and results pouring out.

A small example I can offer from my home life is that of my wife and I.

We have a 13-month old son and he wakes up in the middle of the night. It would be really easy for me to pretend I am sleeping heavy and not get up with her, but I know that working together we can get him to sleep much easier and faster. But what role do I play? It took us a little while to figure this out. We both tried doing different tasks that came with a not sleeping child at 3 a.m.

What we came to realize is that I am the prepper, and she delivers. My role in this team effort is to make sure his room is ready for when he goes to sleep. Defuser. Dim lighting. Bottle or bottles ready. Blankets ready. Crib sheet dry and clean. Toys put away. Diapers stocked…and so on. When 3 a.m. rolls around, I get up with my wife, she changes the diaper and I get a bottle ready. She feeds him in the glider, and I take a minute to throw away the dirty diaper and refill the defuser along with passing her a blanket and his favorite stuffed animal to snuggle up with once he’s done inhaling. After mere minutes, he is back asleep and gently laid in his crib – and we exit.

This small example is how we tackle a job at home that requires both of us knowing our parts. If we didn’t, we would be fumbling around and getting frustrated, and our child would probably throw a fit and not go back to sleep.

Changing gears – we all play roles of a team player at work too. Sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly. But what we ought to think about is what outcome do we have when we play the role we are in? Is it productive? Does the team tend to accomplish what’s needed on time? Are you lacking the right motivation or are the deadlines feeling too large? Whatever the answer is, I challenge you to analyze your actions within a team atmosphere next week and see for yourself how well you perform. And, if you’re the boss, perhaps seeing that some of your employees might be better off in a different role. Not because they can’t do the job, but because they could do something else a whole lot better. If they already are in the right role, encourage and reward to sustain a great working atmosphere.  A pat on the back of acknowledgment goes a long way to empowering a team environment.

 

These are my thoughts for the day.