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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More articles on Emotions at Work:

Hard at WorkThe Tweaking CC
When did you last receive an email message with a "tweaking CC"? Probably yesterday. A tweaking CC is usually a CC to your boss or possibly the entire known universe, designed to create pressure by exposing embarrassing information.
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If you're a manager in a project-oriented organization, you need to know the full, unvarnished Truth. When you kill a messenger, you deliver a message of your own: Tell me the Truth at your peril. Killing messengers has such predictable results that you have to question any report you receive — good news or bad.
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Taking on the full load is what we do when we feel fully responsible for either the success or the failure of some organizational activity. Instead of asking for help, we take extreme measures to execute responsibilities that might not even be ours.
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Have you ever heard nasty rumors about yourself? When rumors are damaging, they can hurt our careers, our self-esteem, and even our health. Sadly, our response to rumors often compounds the serious damage they do.
Six atoms in a Schrödinger "cat" statePreventing Toxic Conflict: I
Conflict resolution skills are certainly useful. Even more advantageous are toxic conflict prevention skills, and skills that keep constructive conflict from turning toxic.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Five almondsComing October 25: Workplace Memes
Some patterns of workplace society reduce organizational effectiveness in ways that often escape our notice. Here are five examples. Available here and by RSS on October 25.
Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International AirportAnd on November 1: Risk Creep: I
Risk creep is a term that describes the insidious and unrecognized increase in risk that occurs despite our every effort to mitigate risk or avoid it altogether. What are the dominant sources of risk creep? Available here and by RSS on November 1.

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