Learning to walk in love not fear.

Everything we do, say or feel is driven by love or by fear. When you become consciously mindful of how your actions and reactions impact others feelings and happiness, you can begin to c

As human beings everything we do, say and feel is driven by love or by fear.  Every single day our actions and reactions are impacted by these two powerful emotions, and more often than not we aren’t even aware of it.

Acting out of  fear will in fact cause us further frustration, upset and unhappiness. But when we consciously choose to come from a place of love, no matter the challenge we are facing, life flows more freely.

How often do we over think things and start to imagine certain negative outcomes to situations we are currently experiencing?  We tend to live our lives so much in the future, in a world of what ifs, rather than choosing to remain in the present.  We over analyse people’s actions, words and opinions, and often take things too personally in the process. When this happens we are sitting in the space of our fears.

When I was in my early twenties I briefly dated a guy who seemed incredibly charming, charismatic, open and warm.  He made me laugh and I enjoyed the time that we spent together.  We would message one-another regularly and enjoyed several dates. He was very open with his feelings about me, speaking about our future together and everything seemed to be going so well.  Then one day, out of the blue he just stopped contacting me. No explanation, no reasoning, just no more contact.  If I messaged him, his replies were brief, almost cold and there was always some reason or another as to why he couldn’t meet up.  The whole experience left me feeling incredibly confused, unhappy and in truth quite hurt.  Because of this unconsciously and without wanting to, I stepped in to a place of fear. I started feeling unworthy of his attention and affection, and my mind would run away with me regarding all the reasons why he had obviously made a choice to simply avoid me. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough, or funny enough? Or maybe he had met someone who he found intellectually more stimulating, or attractive?  Wrongly, I wholeheartedly viewed his actions as a direct reflection of me as a person, when in fact his actions were a direct reflection of him.

A few days after the last message I sent, one that he simply ignored, I began to acknowledge that I was allowing the whole situation to have a significant negative impact on my thoughts and also my life. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was emotionally exhausted.  So one morning, after my yoga practice I chose to consciously step into a place of complete acceptance and peace. I invited myself to bring all of my mindfulness practice into play and began to view the whole experience with a more open heart.  As soon as I did this, I allowed myself to look at the situation with a greater sense of softness and deeper understanding.  Over time the shift in my thought processes slowly enabled my feelings to change. I transitioned from a place of fear into a place of love. Rather than judging my friend for acting in a way that I had initially viewed as insensitive and unkind, I began to accept that he was probably just acting in the only manner he felt he was able to at that time. For whatever reason he wasn’t comfortable enough to just be open and honest with the whole situation, and he certainly wasn’t able to be honest with me. Initially I had judged him for not acting in a way that I would have done had I been in his shoes. I hoped that had I been in the same situation myself, I would have been honest enough to explain why I no longer wanted to see my friend. I would have considered their feelings as well as my own, and explained my reasons in the kindest and gentlest way possible.  But when we begin to judge peoples actions on the way we conduct  our own lives, we are in fact acting out of ego and not from a deeper sense of compassion.  I chose to instead to think that maybe he hadn’t even considered how his actions could have been impacting my self-esteem or sense of happiness, or if he had, then he just didn’t know how to approach the situation with me, and that was fine. Due to his own sense of fear, a fear of my reaction or non-acceptance of his feelings it was easier for him just to blank me and hide away. And in doing so he was actually protecting himself from having to face any kind of awkward conversation, one that would no doubt be very uncomfortable for him.

On reflection I realised that if I looked at everything from a higher perspective, all of this was in fact o.k.  Not all of us are always able to tackle our life experiences with a sense of courage, gentleness and compassion, and not everyone is comfortable with speaking from a place of truth.  I acknowledged, that deep down all I really wanted was for my friend to be happy and if that meant he would be happier without me, that was how it needed to be.  The end result was still the same, and that was all that mattered to me.  That night I meditated on the whole situation and I sent my friend the deepest sense of love that I possibly could muster up. Within my heart I wished for his onward path to be bright and blessed, and hoped that one day he would find the one who would make his soul shine. And then, with a deep sense of relief, I simply let it all go.

Each and every one of us approach both life and it’s challenges differently, that doesn’t make any one of us better than another, it’s simply means we either view our experiences from place of love or a place of fear.

When you can choose love, life becomes a little easier, a little happier and so much fuller.  Love will always send you back into the truest essence of yourself, you become more understanding, more compassionate and in truth, you become more you.

 

Mindful tips on dealing with bullying at work.


“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
— 
Thich Nhat Hanh

As a child I grew up witnessing an older friend of mine being bullied. She had the biggest heart and lowest self esteem.  Her peers clearly saw this as a weakness, for them it was an empowering opportunity to make her suffer.  Slowly watching the light of her spirit become dimmer and dimmer, was excruciatingly painful. I felt helpless for her, the bullies were much older than me and quite frankly I found them too terrifying to have the courage to confront them on her behalf.  At the time I had no idea of the valuable lesson that I was being taught.

Many years later when I was in my early twenties and working as a civil servant, I was transferred to a new office. I worked within a small group of about 5 or 6 people, and the job roll we had meant we really needed to work as a close-knit team.  Initially everyone seemed really lovely and friendly, but it wasn’t too long before it became apparent that one of the girls on the team was actually being bullied by two female colleagues, both were in their late twenties.

Every day I would come into work and the poor girl who was being bullied (lets call her Sarah) would be tucked in a corner somewhere, desperately looking as if she didn’t want to be asked to do anything in case she ‘got it wrong’.  Every opportunity her two bully’s got to undermine her, belittle her, or cause her embarrassment, they would. It was as if they relished in the fact that they could make her feel worthless and gained empowerment from being able to dominate her.  It was horrifying.  I had no idea why they were doing what they were doing, but it was obvious they were making Sarah’s life miserable and she didn’t have the confidence to deal with the situation on her own.

I had only been on the team a week or so, so effectively I was the new girl.  My own selfish side was apprehensive about causing problems for myself, but at the same time I just couldn’t stand it any longer, watching Sarah suffer was just too painful.  One day I went into work, only to find her in the toilets sobbing into a hankie.  Initially she was mortified that I had found her crying, but after a few words of encouragement she slowly opened up to me. Apparently she had been on the team a few short months, and initially everything was fine. Whilst she was still at the stage of having to ask for help, looking up to her bully’s for guidance, they were helpful and encouraging towards her.  But after a few weeks, she started to gain a bit of confidence in her new role, and slowly began to gain acknowledgement for some of her work from her manager and other colleagues.  She said it was at this point her bully’s attitudes suddenly changed.

Now she felt as if she couldn’t do anything right, they criticised her work constantly, picked at every fault and called her incompetent and lazy.   She said the more she tried to please them, the more they attacked her on every level. What made it worse for her, was whenever someone else came into the office outside of the team, including the manager, they would suddenly become falsely nice to her, acting as if they were her best friend.  Her manager was either oblivious to the situation, or was choosing to completely ignore it.  Not only were they bully’s, but they were also very sly.

It was very simple, Sarah’s bully’s actually saw her as a threat. They were more than happy when Sarah was new and feeling vulnerable, whilst she was in that position, they felt that they could dominate her.  They themselves felt as if they were in a place of control, and whilst they were in that position of control, they actually felt secure within themselves.

From that very day onwards, Sarah and I would meet in the office early, although I was new to the team I had more experience than everyone else put together, so I felt the least I could do was to take her under my wing and give her the support and encouragement she deserved.  We would meet an hour or so before everyone else arrived each morning, and during this time I would teach Sarah how to complete certain tasks and answer any questions she had. The next time something derogatory was said to Sarah, I challenged it.

Initially I wasn’t very popular.  Who was I to come in and start challenging someone else’s behavior?  But I didn’t care, and I remember thinking at the time, if I was ever made a manager within my working career, I would strive to be the kind of manager that my staff would have confidence in.  One that could challenge the type of behavior Sarah had been subject to, and deal with the problem effectively. I didn’t want to be someone who just brushed problems under the carpet in the hope they would go away.  Less than 10 months later that opportunity arose, I was promoted and in fact managed the very same team that Sarah and I had been on.  I spent the next eight years building a reputation of being a manager that wasn’t afraid to deal with challenging staff, hopefully proving I had the ability to deal with volatile situations within the workplace calmly and effectively. I’m not a perfect manager by any means, and of course I have made mistakes along the way,  but I still to this day try to learn from those mistakes and continue to acknowledge that I am always constantly learning.

Dealing with bullies in the workplace can be challenging and may seem incredibly daunting if you’ve had no previous experience of this type of thing before.  But if you take the mindful approach of tackling the situation within the bigger picture, it can have a very rewarding out come and help you grow as a manager or person.

What motivates a bully?     Always be mindful of why someone is behaving like a bully in the first place.  People who feel the need to dominate, control, or constantly point out the faults of others is usually someone who is actually very insecure and unhappy within themselves.  If they gain satisfaction out of being unkind and constantly unproductively critical towards a colleague, nine times out of ten they are usually feeling insecure with their own abilities or within their life as a whole. Bully’s are often dissatisfied with certain aspects of their own life, maybe it isn’t going how they planned, or they feel as if they have no direction.  Once you understand that behind the aggressive, short-tempered or unkind person you see bullying someone else, is actually someone who is behaving that way because they are feeling vulnerable, scared or lonely themselves, it enables you to tackle the situation from a different perspective.

Acknowledging a bully and their tactics   Bully’s rarely pick on someone they see as confident, self-assured or more experienced.  They will tend to target someone they see as weak, vulnerable, keen to please, or the kind of person that won’t challenge their behavior. Bully’s love to dominate and make people feel embarrassed and incompetent.  In my experience the type of people who bully tend to be short-tempered, impatient, have a great difficulty in acknowledging their own faults or weaknesses, and will in fact often have a very high opinion of themselves.   They can be very unwilling to pass on their skills to others (usually through fear of that person actually becoming more competent than them within the working environment).  They will be seen to gain pleasure out of pointing out others faults and using this as an excuse for things not going how they want within their working environment, rather than taking the approach of helping someone overcome their weaknesses.   Very often they are impatient too, unwilling to spend time encouraging others to learn and grown, expecting people to immediately come on board with all the skills and knowledge they possess themselves.

Firm approach with an open heart   I have always found that if you show kindness, compassion and understanding, supported with a very firm but fair approach, usually bullying within the workplace can be tackled reasonably quickly and effectively. There is no point going in with all guns blazing, either as a manager or as a victim of a bully. Remaining calm and level-headed about the situation helps everyone involved.  However, don’t beat around the bush either.

  • As a manager you should challenge inappropriate behavior head on, in a calm, clear but firm manner.   Bully’s need to understand when their behavior isn’t acceptable and why.
  • Take time to listen to your staff. Make sure the whole team are clear on what your policies are regarding bullying too.  My staff know I won’t tolerate it on any level, and if they want to work in my company then they must continue to express kindness, respect and show support to everyone that works alongside them.
  • Be mindful of the reasoning behind their behavior, their own insecurities and frustrations. I’m not saying you have to turn into a counselor, but if they are insecure due to something relating to their work say, then you may be in a position to help them on that level.
  • Let them know they are supported within their role, but make it clear you expect them to show continued support to others too.
  • I have often challenged bully’s by asking them how they feel about the direct consequence of their actions. For example “Do you know every time you say that to Sally, she has told me it makes her feel really embarrassed, incompetent and she is too scared to complete her task in fear of what you will say to her. How does that make you feel?” . Hopefully confronting their behavior on an emotionally level will make them more aware of what they are doing, and will give them food for thought.
  • Don’t let bully’s try to justify their bullying. Many times I have heard bully’s say something like “well if she did her job properly I wouldn’t have to keep asking her to do it!”.  There is never an excuse for someone trying to belittle another member of staff, end of.
  • Make it very clear of what will happen if they continue to ignore your warnings. I have no hesitation of telling staff about our disciplinary procedure. When they understand you are taking the matter very seriously, hopefully they will too.
  • Bully’s will often portray themselves as being the best at what they do, but will be very unwilling to pass on their skills, or will attempt to keep the lime light to themselves.  I once worked in a salon where the owner had built a really good reputation for herself, but although she had exceptionally talented staff she restricted any of us from connecting ourselves to the salon outside of work. Effectively, she was happy for us to say how good we were when actually working in her salon, but we weren’t allowed to express any connection to her outside of that, her reasoning being that she had worked really hard to build up her reputation and business, clearly painting the picture to us, that she wasn’t willing to ‘share’ that success. She would often point out our faults too, ensuring we understood she was top of her game and far more experienced than any of us.    Although none of us were employed by her, we merely rented rooms, It was very clear to me that she was in fact incredibly insecure and was frightened that we may become equally as good as her in the business, and then we may potentially ‘steal her customers’.  If she had spent more time, encouraging, supporting and nurturing her team, helping them develop within their ‘own right’ instead of placing various restrictions on us, her business would have blossomed into something very special.  Instead the turnover of her therapists was frequent and she ultimately built the reputation of being a poor manager and very insecure business woman.

If you’re a victim of bullying, you may feel the situation is completely out of your control, but there are certain measures you can take to try to defuse the situation and how the person is making you feel.

  • You may not feel confident enough to challenge someone head on, if you do that’s fine, just remember to be calm and collected. Don’t rise to the bait, even if you are challenged yourself.
  • If you feel confrontation isn’t appropriate, then try not to engage with the bully, silence is often far more powerful than words. When a bully isn’t getting the reaction they want they may get bored.
  • Confined in a co-worker you can trust. Confidence can often grown when you have someone else to sound off to and bully’s rarely target people in numbers.
  • Bully’s will often make threats, in an attempt to try to dominate a situation. Try not to panic if this happens, remember it’s usually their own insecurities fueling their desire to try to gain control of a situation.  For them attack is the best form of defense.
  • Be aware that you are a much wiser and kinder person for not treating anyone the way the bully treats you. It may not be much comfort when someone is constantly being unkind to you, but feel proud of the fact that you know better.
  • Get yourself a coach! Coaches are fantastic at helping you see your strengths and motivating you in areas of your life that you may lack confidence. They can give you an outsiders perspective on things, and can often help you understand and cope with challenging situations in life.
  • Don’t be afraid to let your manager know what is happening and how you feel. Bully’s tend to have recurring patterns of behavior and you may not be the only one in the office that has been subject to his/her actions.
  • Remember, you are in control of your life. If a bully makes you feel worthless and unhappy, you are actually allowing them to have that affect on your feelings.  Easier said then done at times I know, but it’s always helpful to remind yourself you feel the way you do because you are allowing yourself to do so.

Ultimately I believe if you are happy, secure, open-hearted person you will always find the time and effort to offer your support and encouragement to colleagues.  Even if someone is frustrating you because they aren’t working to a standard you expect, or they are taking much longer to do something than you would hope, offering a helping hand or words of encouragement is far more productive and helpful than complaining.  In years to come I hope I can look back at the staff I have now and see them at the top of their game in what ever they go on to do, all successful and truly happy.  It would bring me much pleasure to know that somewhere along the line I was able to provide them with the tools, training and support to be a small part of helping them get there, that’s when I will know I have done my job well.

The fool thinks he has won a battle when he bullies with harsh speech,
But knowing how to be forbearing- that makes one victorious.
The worse of the two is he who, when abused, retaliates.
One who does not retaliate wins a battle hard to win.

Knowing that the other person is angry, one who remains mindful and calm
Acts for his own best interest and for the other’s interest, too.
He is a healer of both himself and the other person also.
He is thought a fool only by those who do not understand the Dhamma.
Dhammapada


6 Positive Ways of Dealing With Negative People

A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all – he’s walking on them.  ~Leonard Louis Levinson

Interacting with someone who is constantly negative can be a hard task to master.   Spending any length of time with that person can be emotionally draining, we come away feeling exhausted and sometimes even a little depressed!

I once worked with a girl who was constantly negative.  Everything in her life was annoying her, her parents, her friends, the salary she earned, life outside of her work and inside of her work.  On top of all of this, she constantly complained that she never seemed to have a boyfriend, and in some respects,  it wasn’t difficult to see why!  At the time we knew eachother, we were both part of a small team, just 5 or 6 of us working in a small office.  Gradually over time, I saw how her constant negativity actually began to affect the dynamics of the entire team.  If she came into work complaining (as she often did), the whole ‘mood’ of the office would change.   Colleagues began to avoid interacting with her, even going as far as to swap a lunch break schedule so they wouldn’t have to sit with her in the canteen.  After about 18 months with the company she left, within about a week of her moving on,  the whole energy in the office changed, and I can honestly say, it was for the better.

I recently read somewhere that our own emotions, mood and energy patterns are influenced considerably by the five people we spend the most time with in our lives.  A fascinating fact, considering how many of us spend 8 hours a day or more at work.

So how do you recognise a ‘negative’ person? Over the years these are the recurring patterns I have witnessed from the type of people I would consider to be of a negative mindset.

  • They will find fault in many things, including people, and they won’t be afraid of sharing these faults with the world
  • They will often portray a ‘victims’ attitude towards life
  • They rarely believe the negativity that surrounds them is caused by their own doing
  • They are often reluctant to embrace change
  • They will often have some kind of ‘drama’ happening in their life
  • They get angry or hot headed in many situations unnecessarily
  • Life is all about them and their own happiness (or lack of it)

So how do we deal with these kind of people, without absorbing their negativity or feeling like we are being influenced or affected by it?

1. Try to be mindful of why they have such a negative outlook on life in the first place.

The fact is, many of people that are negative can actually be harboring  feelings of insecurity or loneliness. They can often lack the love, confidence and warmth within themselves, which would help enable them to see the positive side of situations.  They use negativity as a means of erecting barriers around themselves as a form of protection.   When you find yourself feeling irritated or emotionally drained by someones negativity, try and be mindful of that persons own emotional state.   They may not be as confident or balanced as you, or they might be suffering with stress or difficulties within their personal life.

2. Try not to engage or encourage any negativity in a conversation

Now this can be a difficult one, but if someone starts ranting on about how they aren’t happy with someone or something, by all means listen, but try not to encourage or comment on the conversation.  I find a very affective way of dealing with a negative conversation is to remain silent, and thus comment rarely.  Negative people thrive on people ‘agreeing’ with their negative point of view, and this can in fact just fuel more negativity.  Instead, just smile occasionally and don’t interact too much.  It usually doesn’t take the person very long to cotton on that the conversation isn’t heading in the right direction for you.

3. Try and switch the topic of conversation to something positive.

You can find positivity anywhere, everywhere you look in fact – you just need to open your heart.  This is a very affective way of subtly changing the energy surrounding a negative conversation.  Mention a great new t.v show you have watched recently, or something good that has happened in the office, how good the food is in the canteen, literally any thing that has a hint of positivity to it and keep doing it every time the conversation creeps back to something negative.  I often find saying something positive about the person themselves helps diffuse the conversation from being negative.  It can be something as subtle as mentioning their pretty earrings, or complementing their outfit.

4. Try and avoid too much one on one time with a negative person

It’s easier to deal with or deflect negativity when you’re surrounded by a group of ‘positive’ or happy people.  One on one time with someone that is negative can be tiresome and quite frankly, irritating!  So encourage ‘group time’ as much as possible.   I’ve spoken before about how being outside in nature can affectively cleanse our energy fields (or auras), so encouraging any kind of meeting, activity, or event outside can be very beneficial to everyone involved.  It’s quite hard to be negative out in the bright sunshine with a bunch of happy, smiling souls.

5. Protect your own personal space

This may sound a bit ‘far out’ for some people, but we are talking about the negative energies that surround certain people after all, so for me it makes perfect sense to protect your own personal space or energy field when in close contact with such people.  There are many ways you can do this, but a very popular way is through visualization.  I personally surround myself with a beautiful apricot/orange colour.  I simply imagine this mist of colour surrounding my entire body from head to toe and as I do this my intention is to protect myself from any negativity that may drain my own energy from me.  As a therapist this is something I do on a daily basis and it really does work for me.  You can choose anything though, whatever you feel comfortable with.  I know some healers that surround themselves with imaginary cloaks or they visualize a shield being held up in front of them.  Don’t feel silly doing it, remember know one need know what you are doing if you don’t want them to.  Just try it and see if you feel differently after the encounter.

6. If all else fails don’t feel guilty about moving on.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, nothing we say or do will change how people see their life or how they fit into this world.  If you have tried everything, approached all aspects, but still nothing seems to be getting through and you are finding yourself constantly feeling drained, irritated or upset by someone, then it’s simply time to honor that persons own journey and move on with yours.

I have been in this position myself, and it is a hard thing to come to terms with I admit.  It left me feeling really sad that the person concerned always had a drama in their life.  Their problems were always the worst problems in the world and no matter what anyone tried to do to make them happy, they never really appreciated it or even acknowledged it.  They were happier just wallowing deep within their own self pity, blaming everyone around them for their own misfortunes.  They were also unable to see their own destructive patterns, and would become incredibly defensive or aggressive if anyone would try to gently challenge their behavior or a personal view point.  I had known this person for years, and when I actually took the time to look back at the relationship in it’s full glory, it had in fact been an incredibly one sided relationship and a very stressful time throughout.

Deep down I whole heartedly wished the person well.  I wanted them to experience the kind of happiness they obviously longed for, but I also had to accept I could no longer continue to ride their personal roller coaster of drama anymore.   I learned if someone is constantly depleting my energy and leaving me feeling stressed or negative, then that relationship isn’t serving either of us well and the only way to stop the pattern is to move on from it completely.

If you find yourself in this situation try to always have an open heart in what the relationship may have taught you, has it tested your art of patience? has it made you more aware of the positive things you have in your own life? has it made you a little more compassionate towards others thoughts and feelings despite their negativity?

People or situations are sent to us to teach us.   Remember you can always learn something positive out of something negative, you just have to be the one holding up the optimist sign in the room.