Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 35;   August 28, 2002: Down So Low the Only Place to Go Is Up

Down So Low the Only Place to Go
Is Up

by

The past few years have been hard. Some of us have lost hope. What do you do when you're down so low the only place to go is up?

The audience applauded much more than politely, Leanne thought. That was saying a lot, because Sixers Plus was a "tough room" these days. Sixers Plus (not its real name) is one of those networking groups of unemployed ex-six-figures-plus executives, entrepreneurs, senior managers, and technical wunderkinder. It sponsors training, networking, and occasional uplifting speakers, which was what had attracted Leanne.

Tragedy  — not comedyThat night's topic, "Living Your Dreams," had obviously moved them all, and Leanne was glad she was there. She had Cheryl to thank for that, so she turned to her right as they applauded, and thanked her with her smile and her eyes.

Cheryl did not look good.

The Q&A began, and a 40-ish man at the back asked: "What do you do when you're feeling so low, day after day, that you don't have any dreams you'd ever want to live?"

Cheryl suddenly stood up, sidestepped hurriedly past a couple of people to the aisle, and walked out the back door. Leanne knew without asking that Cheryl's tears had returned. As the speaker delivered what was probably a really good answer, Leanne waited a moment, and then followed Cheryl out the door, hoping to help somehow, if she could catch her. Leanne was a good friend.

These last few years
have been hard.
Some have lost hope.
These past few years have been hard. We've lost business, jobs, savings, homes, and companies, and on September Eleventh, many of us lost colleagues, friends, or loved ones. Some of us have lost hope. What do you do when you're down so low the only place to go is up?

Some things to remember:

Misfortune and tragedy hurt
Feeling bad after misfortune or tragedy is OK. If you hurt, that's good — it means the circuits are still working. Not feeling bad would be more worrisome.
Watch out for "should"
Telling yourself "I shouldn't feel bad," might make you feel bad about feeling bad, which is self-perpetuating. If you feel bad, you feel bad. That's all.
Feel how you feel
To deal with your feelings, feel them. You can't feel them if you deny to yourself how you feel.
Everything is easier with support
Get support from a friend, your spouse, a relative, a significant other, clergy or a therapist. Find someone who will steady you through the rocky patches.
Be open about psychotherapy
For many, psychotherapy has a stigma. Investigate it anyway. Find a therapist and just talk for a session or two. Then find another. Make no commitments until you feel comfortable with someone.
Practice happiness
Unhappiness can be a habit — a pattern of thinking or doing that you overuse. Habits don't die, but you can replace them with new habits, through practice. Do the things that used to make you happy, even if you're just going through the motions. Think of it as emotional aerobics.

If none of this works, call me — maybe I can help you find your Leanne. Go to top Top  Next issue: Some Causes of Scope Creep  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

The Hall of Mosses Trail in the Hoh Rain ForestTeamwork Myths: I vs. We
In high performance teams, cooperative behavior is a given. But in the experience of many, truly cooperative behavior is so rare that they believe that something fundamental is at work — that cooperative behavior requires surrendering the self, which most people are unwilling to do. It's another teamwork myth.
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Coercion, physical or psychological, has no place in the workplace. Yet we see it and experience it frequently. We can end the use of presupposition as a tool of coercion, but only if we take personal responsibility for ending it.
Brian Urquhart of the Office of the UN Under-Secretaries Without Porfolios. (1 January 1956)Staying in Abilene
A "Trip to Abilene," identified by Jerry Harvey, is a group decision to undertake an effort that no group members believe in. Extending the concept slightly, "Staying in Abilene" happens when groups fail even to consider changing something that everyone would agree needs changing.
A portion of The Art of War, written in Tangut scriptCompulsive Talkers at Work: Power
Compulsive talkers are unlikely to change their behavior in response to your polite (or even impolite) requests. In this second part of our exploration, we consider the role of power — both personal and organizational.
Heart with mindHeart with Mind
We say people have "heart" when they continue to pursue a goal despite obstacles that would discourage almost everyone. We say that people are stubborn when they continue to pursue a goal that we regard as unachievable. What are our choices when achieving the goal is difficult?

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Daffodils of the variety Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'Coming February 28: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: I
Briefly, when people exhibit narcissistic behavior they're engaging in activity that systematically places their own interests and welfare ahead of the interests and welfare of anyone or anything else. It's behavior that threatens the welfare of the organization and everyone employed there. Available here and by RSS on February 28.
George Orwell's 1933 press card photo issued by the Branch of the National Union of JournalistsAnd on March 7: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: II
Narcissistic behavior at work threatens the enterprise. People who behave narcissistically systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this Part II of the series we consider the narcissistic preoccupation with superiority fantasies. Available here and by RSS on March 7.

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