Category Archives: Free Thinking via “Research”

Opinions, perceptions, and ponderings as I come across random “research” topics, articles, postings… Fun stuff!

“Fight to the Death.”

What are you willing to fight for?

I mentioned in a previous blog entry, that someone else’s passion isn’t necessarily mine, nor is my passion yours.  Does this mean we don’t care about each other’s passion?  Not necessarily.  It just means that we can act on that passion in a different way.

I am willing to write letters to advocate on subjects that I’m interested in such as Amnesty International or for the Friends New Underground Railroad.  However, I am not willing to intentionally put myself in a situation where I will be killed to fight for that particular cause.

What are you willing to die for?

I asked myself that question tonight.  Is there something I’m willing to die for?  Is there a cause I feel 100% passionate about that I’m willing to risk my life?

While pondering that question, it dawned no me that losing a life for a cause can be literal or figurative.  I have been wondering why so many are uncomfortable about talking about tough topics.  Topics that make people uncomfortable.  Topics that are controversial.  They are afraid of repercussions.  Will they die?  Most likely not literally.

However, if we talk about – or act on – tough topics, we can die in other ways.  People shun us, we lose jobs, there is a risk that we may lose something that seems vital to our wellbeing or those of the ones we love.

What makes a difference between the voice of an Evangelical Christian versus individuals who speak about other passions such as Malala Yousafzai?  Malala is fighting for something that is highly political.  Evangelical Christians are also fighting for what they think is right – a cause that is often rife with tension.  But what makes the difference?

So many, many Evangelical Christians and activists make the mistake of being like Peter of the New Testament.  They are much more likely to cut off ears.  Why?  I’m on the quest to learn.  I want to know as I am highly afraid of cutting off ears rather than advocating for truth and justice.

Malala is referred to as “a beacon of hope — a reminder that the human spirit holds in it immense possibility, warmth, humility and forgiveness.” Christians are known for acting out hate, insensitivity, and bullying yet believing they are portraying the kindness, forgiveness, grace, love….  Why is Malala listened to while Christians by-and-large are avoided like the plague and/or illicit rage and anger?

As I was listening to a speech she made for the UN, I couldn’t help but be fascinated.  Why are Malala’s speeches so compelling?  Why do people listen to her instead of the 1000s who are advocating – and have been advocating – for education, irradiation of poverty and injustice, racial inequity, and women’s rights for many, many years?  Why do people of all nations, beliefs, faiths, religions, and non-faith based people listen to her?

What makes Malala different than others?  I strongly sense that she is oozing with genuine, authentic grace, kindness, and love.  She speaks with knowledge and passion with articulate intelligence.  She recognizes everyone and shuns no one.  She is not willing to kill – literally OR figuratively, but to lift up.

Mother Teresa did the same.  She went into the trenches and showed love and compassion, one person at a time.  In the process, she became a voice of activism that was capitalized on and exploited.  I remember reading a story that she walked out of a conference with World Vision as she felt she was raising publicity rather than aiding toward her cause – a cause of seeing individuals who are disgraced, shunned, and looked away from as being God in human form.  This could have stopped her, but it didn’t.  I’m sure she became quite discouraged at times, but her voice was not squelched.

Malala, along with at least 9 others, were willing to “fight to the death” for education and equality.  Malala is strongly advocating for women’s rights, education for every child and the elimination of ignorance, poverty, and injustice.  (Injustice being related to the subject of people being being treated unfairly.)  She was shot, the others were killed.  She allowed being shot to not make her afraid, but to be empowered.  She was never a coward to fear.

What are you a coward of?  What are you willing to fight for?  What am I willing to fight for?

As I ponder this question, I realize that I am willing to fight for justice of others in the workplace.  I have been a coward of fear of what my friends would think of me so I often delete and/or refrain from writing what I truly think and feel in this blog.

I don’t want to work from scratch once again, building my base of friendship from the bottom up.  I don’t want to worry about or figure out who my true friends are.  I don’t want to undergo shunning, strange looks, people thinking I’m crazy and more.  Thus, I tend to keep my mouth shut as to what I truly believe.  Only slowly but surely am I opening up more and more.  Now that I realize this cowardliness of me, I will work to overcome it.

How do I overcome this by being a voice without cutting off people’s ears?  If I cut off people’s ears, then no one wins.  However, if I reach out in love, intelligence, grace, and knowledge, then I can make an impact.

At the same time, as I look back, what have I been willing to “fight for the death for”?  It dawned on me that it’s employment.  I am willing to advocate for justice even when there is a likely outcome of my being fired.  I’ve been fired time and time again for many different reasons – most often for standing up for what is right and just, what is known to be beneficial for the program and organization according to research, their organizational goals and vision statements, the verbalized needs of employees and customers alike.

This idea of not having a steady job, of being paid via a 9-5 job that includes a supposedly guaranteed wage with good benefits, results in actions based on fear.  People are much more apt to avoid being fired at all costs.  I totally “get it.”

However, in my mind, what is better: standing up for what’s right (in this case the betterment of others who are associated with that particular workplace or job)? or stuffing it, looking the other way, and allowing myself to be stifle or killed by the stress of it all?

So many, many people in the workplace are literally being killed a slow, painful, steady death.  They are dying from heart conditions and cancer all directly related to workplace violence.  No one talks about it.  There is no direct correlation – or so people believe.  There is no immediate cause-and-effect.  Instead, the bullies point the finger at the victim and make the victim look crazy.  The bully sabotages the victim within the organization or from future employment.  Everyone knows that and so they don’t say anything.

Those working alongside the victim either sympathizes when no one is looking, hides and pretends they are ignoring it, leaves that particular workplace, or takes up the fight with the bully and furthers the cause often resulting in being sabotaged in some way.  Those working in abusive environments either allow themselves to be fired and/or dies from the stress strongly believing that that, for them, there is no way out.

In some situations that involve workplace violence, victims are dealing with personal demons where they feel they just can’t escape.  Thus, once again, with the reasons that these articles lay out via the hyperlinks of the prior sentence, there is a risk of the violence being dismissed as being the victim’s fault rather than the fault of the organization.  Once again, with this idea, the bully prevails.

People hate whistleblowers.  People such as Edward Snowden become highly political. I love this statement from “Self-professed NSA leaker Edward Snowden has seemingly joined the list of famous whistleblowers. Some call these individuals heroes, many others call them traitors, but all of these figures became famous for providing information, sometimes secretly, in an attempt to expose the people or organization they worked for.”  Not even will take a stance.  Instead, they say Edward Snowden is a self-proclaimed whistleblower.  It’s way too risky to say he’s a whistleblower.  But, is he truly a whistleblower?

I don’t know if Snowden is a whistleblower.  Only time will tell.  All I do know is that he has made many, many very, very angry.  He has “stirred the waters” while being willing to “fight to the death” for what he (I want to believe) feels to be is right and just.  I want to believe he is standing for justice, for a cause that will stand up for the good of the masses.

What is the difference between Snowden and Malala?  Why has Snowden cut off ears and Malala has renewed, replaced, and/or healed them?  Why does her passion, her willingness to “fight for the death,” win over the masses and create a listening ear — and hopefully continued action?

What makes things “stick” rather than get stomped on?

During the most recent orientation I attended, the HR officiator of the orientation stated “Employees have no rights” and emphasized – and reemphasized – throughout the orientation that he is an attorney.  This made me realize: These are statements of fear and power.  These statements are extremely effective in keeping the mouths of the masses shut.  Especially when followed with an execution of verbal and nonverbal cues as well as the final execution of firing someone with no apparent cause.

I was looking for the rally that was made during George W. Bush’s era that was effectively stomped on.  Ironically I can’t find it through a quick and easy Google search.  However, I did find an article from NY Times who shared this quote:  “People are not at liberty to speak whenever, however, and wherever they please,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruled for the court. “In that regard, we have recognized that securing the safety of the president is a vital concern.”

The people of the United States have lost their voice politically and individually.  We have lost our voice within politics, religion, and the workplace.

Jonathan Turley writes: “Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.”

Ironically, the methods used toward stifling, covering-up, and evading what will result in the Highest Good is yielding the ability toward the continuation of the movement toward loss of free speech.  The tactic that Justice Ginsburg referred to utilized pointing out sources of fear and intimidation.  In this case, weapons.  How was it enabled?  Through effective, pre-planned strategies that were unapparent to those who had the loudest voice at the time.

This continuation of heightened use of fear and intimidation through the utilization of words which highlight actions with implications involving the possibility of fear and intimidation is a virus that is spreading and winning.  Our voices are being stifled through fear and intimidation.  Everyone is afraid of losing something important to them.  Through bullies – intentional or non-intentional – people are dying – blatantly and subtly – because no one is speaking up.  People are not speaking up because they are afraid.  In addition, the fear of personal loss is capitalized on through the fear of not being heard, being invalidated, and “fighting to the death” for no reason.  They are afraid that the outcome is not worth the output.  They are afraid that they are the crazy ones.

Thus, fewer and fewer Americans are willing to “fight to the death.”  We are losing our ability for freedom of speech.  We are afraid.  We are killing each other, allowing each other to be killed, and are allowing ourselves to be killed, by allowing the bullies to win through intimidation.  Fear is a powerful tool.  By all observations, fear is winning.

Why do I say the bullies are winning?  Why do I say we are killing ourselves and allowing ourselves to be killed?

Global warming is not being stopped.  The Taliban is not being stopped.  Millions and millions of hard working people are dying from an unjust system (including job stress and inadequate staffing, workplace violence and bullying in the workplace, low wages, and lack of healthcare), Domestic Violence is not being stopped.  Racial inequity is alive and well.  Why?

Does that mean we ought to silence ourselves?  Does that mean we need to speak up?  If action is needed, then how much, how loud, how far should we go?

If we want to be a voice, how can we make ourselves heard?  How can we advocate for what we believe to be what is True, what is Good, what is Just?

How can we overcome fear, stand strong, and unite us all toward peace, love, and goodness for all?


“Healthy Organizations Are Safe”

The book “Restoring Sanctuary” by Sandra L. Bloom & Brian Farragher (2013) was recommended to me.  I am so glad I acted on the suggestion and borrowed it from the library.  (One of the greatest benefits of checking out books from the library is that there is a deadline to read/peruse through them.)

As I skimmed the book, I ran into some significantly helpful entries for organizational leadership:

“When people feel safe within themselves and safe with others, they do not engage in violence – any kind of violence” (39).  It makes me wonder:  Do I engage in any form of violence?  I sure as hell hope not!  “In a healthy organization, leaders are aware of their own vulnerabilities and challenges.  They use power to advance the organization’s mission, not their own personal agenda, and they never abuse the power that is conferred upon them… Change is likely to be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat in a safe organization” (p. 39).

The very first day I worked as a team lead, I emphasized with my co-workers that we are here to work as a team and that we absolutely need to capitalize on each other’s strengths, keep each other safe, and foster open communication.

This idea is supported by his book:  “Organizational leaders make efforts to build trusting relationships with staff by supporting staff’s best efforts, helping them acquire new skills and competencies, being honest and direct, and cultivating a sense of mission and community.  The focus is not limited to physical safety but includes psychological, social, and moral safety as well.  People feel safe to say what is on their minds, be who they are, and trust that others have their best interests at heart.  High levels of trust ensure that members will identify threats, problems, and conflicts before they erupt into violence…” (p. 37).  This is quite encouraging to me as I’ve adopted techniques toward these goals from the very first day of that endeavor. We all make mistakes, but we are here to learn from each other.

Equality and open communication techniques are two of my highest priorities in the workplace – both as an employee as well as a team lead.

Perhaps it is due to my Brethren and Quaker background, I’ve found it works best to provide a sense of teamwork and belonging in the workplace.

Bloom & Farragher write:  “Democracy is the most successful method of nonviolence that groups of people have ever evolved… Democracy is designed to minimize the abusive use of power and level the command hierarchy that so easily emerges in groups of people who are under stress” (p. 38).

In the book, Brian shared a story that involved implementing a policy that his employees were not fond of.  He negotiated with them and they discovered a solution where everyone was happy.  He stated, “My intention was to be clear that democracy is not the absence of rules, but active engagement in making the rules.  My decision to outlaw open-toed shoes was a bad one.  But just ignoring it was not the way to go either.  The way to go was to set a community standard we could all agree to, live with, and commit to” (p. 100).

It is important to note that being democratic does not lose a sense of leadership.  “Becoming more democratic means that leaders will not abuse power.  But it also means they will use power appropriately to witness, inspire, clarify, and facilitate.  Relatively few people have had experience working in participatory environments, so it is likely that mangers will underestimate the time and training that are necessary to support and encourage democratic practices” (p. 117).

One of my greatest desires has been to find a safe work environment.  I’ve been blessed to have a few positive experiences.  However, I’ve had my share of both negative and horrific experiences.  I absolutely love this prospect:  “Healthy organizations are inherently safe places in which to live, work, and do business.  This does not mean bad things never happen.  But when a high premium is placed on safety by everyone in the environment, efforts are made to align policies, procedures, practices, and systems to ensure the well-being of all stakeholders” (p. 39).

I’ve noticed that my fear in the workplace escalates when I don’t feel safe.  “For human beings to truly feel safe, they must be physically, psychologically, socially, and morally safe.  This requires a dedication to creating nonviolent environments that define violence and nonviolence very broadly and see the pursuit of consistent nonviolence as essential to human survival” (p. 40).

It is my goal that everyone on any team I work with feels safe and every employer I work for aims to provide a sense that I will always be safe.

There are a ton of emotions that go along with experiences within the workplace.  Everything from learning a new job, communication techniques and personalities of coworkers and ourselves, and how to do our best within the workplace. “Fear, anger, anxiety, grief, shame, and frustration are unavoidable feelings in all of our work lives.  In human services, these feelings can be exacerbated by our interactions with clients who may have extreme difficulties in managing their emotions.  A healthy organization accepts that distressing emotions are inevitable and creates the space and time for people to be able to talk about, and recover from, the challenges that trigger such emotions… [it] is one in which emotions are recognized, discussed, and managed while ensuring that the organization’s mission remains in clear sight at all times” (p. 42).

A doctor-friend of mine stressed to me the importance of regulating my emotions while on the floor – both for the benefit of the patient as well as for those I’m working with/for.

I’ve been happy that I’ve been able to do quite well with.  I love this quote from p. 90:  “Organizational leaders play a key role in managing the emotional world of the organization.  If we are reactive, anxious, scared, hopeless, and helpless, others will likely follow suit… When we become overwhelmed, we may be more likely to jump in and try to fix a problem without knowing all the facts… conversely, we are also susceptible to withdrawal when we feel overwhelmed.”

During the two-week introductory training for a position, I had written down my resolve to have mini meetings, what a friend would call “pow-wows,” toward the beginning and end of every shift.

The afternoon before I started my first “day” of this job, I went to a restaurant to eat and was honored to be invited to join a community member.  He reinforced that idea and stated that it is essential toward safety of staff as it fosters open communication.

Bloom & Farragher also agree.  They write: “The Community Meeting isn’t just a therapeutic tool for clients who are in treatment settings…To be effective, a group must be capable of thinking and acting together in the service of a shared goal, rather than thinking and acting as separate individuals… The regular use of Community Meetings is necessary for the practice of nonviolence and for deep democracy… [and] gives everyone a voice and offers a safe and nonthreatening environment in which people can begin finding words to express feelings on a regular basis.  It conveys to the community that emotional intelligence is important while at the same time recognizing that feelings are ‘no big deal’ because everyone in the community can watch feelings, even distressing feelings, come and go, wax and wane even over the course of a 15-minute meeting.  The leveling of hierarchy that is expressed by the equal participation in the process signals to everyone in the community that ‘we are in this together…  [Furthermore], a Team Meeting is an active, focused meeting where every member feels comfortable talking and listening, is engaged and contributes, shares insights, generates new ideas, and builds trust.  It provides the opportunity for all members of a team to see and affirm that the are, in fact, members of a team and to recognize that to be a team, their work together must be coordinated”(p. 121-124).

The team meetings I led have been excellent towards meeting this goal.  We as team members worked on verbalizing differences.  It’s been a great team-building, growing experience for us all.  I’m excited to see how things turn out.

I sure hope that every future employer I work for will continue to yield, foster, and lead toward the development of healthy organizational structure and practices within its organization and the unit I work on.

Fear and Google Searches

These past two weeks have been fascinating.  I have experienced every emotion possible – to the extreme.

I have been through intensely scary scenarios – some that would make people literally insane.  However, the other day I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life.  And intensely angry at the same time.  Why me?  Why fucking me?  I have had enough.  Apparently I am here on earth to solve problems and be an ally to other people to the detriment of myself.  No fun.  Absolutely no fun at all.

I was in a training where an individual became my partner.  Why him of all people?  Apparently fate had its attraction and I was caught in the web.

At first I saw him as an everyday person.  Next, I was concerned for him.  He appeared to be traumatized.  Then, as the day went on, it became creepier and creepier.  As the day ended, I was completely, 100% terrified.  Absolutely terrified.  Another time in my life I had become freaked out of my mind – which created the inability to sleep from then on.  However, this one topped even that.  I never knew that could be possible.  Apparently I was wrong.

He self-proclaimed himself to be a sociopath.  He took on 4 different identities – if not more – during the course of the training.  Two of which were some strange name that seemed ??Russian??  I had never heard any other name before – and two were incredibly different from the other yet seemed to be related to the same nationality.

We had an exercise where we complained into each other’s ear.  He had this creepy as-all-get-out grin on his face as I was complaining into his ear and had a victim-mentality as he complained into my ear.  Both heightened my fear enough to make me to express my fear to a co-officiator of the two-week training, but that wasn’t even the end of the story.  Things became scarier and scarier and when he self-proclaimed himself to be a sociopath, I was absolutely, completely freaked out.

I never bite my nails, but I did that day.  My voice was loud, my speech rapid, my eyes huge… I was completely freaked.

Because I wasn’t getting any answers and strongly felt the need to act, I called an authority.  While I was on the phone, a foreign man was pacing, talking on the phone.  I didn’t think anything at the time, but now it makes me wonder even more.  I am not concerned whether or not it is correlated.  However, my fear appears to be more legit and more significant than I had initially thought.

I made the mistake of doing a quick google search.  Not recommended.  I have no idea who or what he is.  I am fascinated to know.  But Google has no answers unless you know what you are doing.  Thus, I will rely on other professionals.

Thankfully I am surrounded by a prayer team and a requested prayer of protection definitely worked.

I really hope that, if he is guilty in a way that he seems to be – and proclaims to be, that he will be discovered.  In the meantime, I am grateful that I will be safe – and that I feel safe.

I am very grateful to be in DuPont.  I will miss it when I move.  However, I am sure I will be protected there just as I am here.

Everyone here in DuPont are just plain wonderful.  As Wade says, “We got your back.”  I’ve heard that may times this week – and it is exactly what I’ve needed.

All I can say is that I am absolutely 100% surrounded by angels – human and those unseen.

I am grateful.

Caustic Work Environments Bite

It’s amazing how employers can mess with their past and current employees.  Employers blame the employees, but in reality, those who inflict harm in the workplace – and the employers who turn their head – are the ones who will suffer long-term.  Hopefully the employee can reverse the significant harm it does to their health.  However, in the end, time will make things far worse for all who have inflicted hellish behaviors and actions.  Karma does not forget.

Many employers and employees go through turbulent times. However, it seems like caustic work environments within the U.S. are becoming common practice. It’s amazing.

Layoffs alone can have detrimental impacts.  Duke University discovered that when 1% of a state’s workforce loses employment, there is a correlated 2-3% increase in suicidal behaviors of girls and black teens.  Sullivan and von Wachter found that “job displacement leads to a 15-20% increase in death rates during the following 20 years.”

Caustic work environments are deadly – not only to the employee but to the organization.  Work can be stressful, but stress related to caustic work environments  wreaks havoc.  According to a report made by CCR International, in 2005, the cost associated to lost work time because of high stress levels was estimated to be approximately $1.7 billion.  If a supervisor is considered “sensitive,” an average of 3.7 days of work were missed.  However, if a supervisor was considered to be “non-sensitive” the average days of missed work was 6.2 (according to a Canadian study in 1999).

The following are symptoms CCR International identified that is related to conflict at work.  According to medical research, each of these are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the individual which means increasing cost incurred on individual, corporate, community, and national levels.  Here is what was listed as the result of workplace discord:

  • Stress, frustration, and anxiety
  • Loss of sleep
  • Strained relationships
  • Grievances and litigation
  • Presenteeism
  • Employee turnover
  • Loss of productivity
  • Increased client complaints
  • Absenteeism
  • Sabotage
  • Injury and accidents
  • Disability claims
  • Sick leave

Someone was telling me that there is an organization where individuals are quitting right and left.  Some had been there for many years. A couple of employees had worked there for two working lifetimes. One quit after being told to switch desks. It seems like such a minute issue, but there are so many underlying implications, words, and actions that go along with that situation that the organization lost out – although the employer and/or manager believes it had won.

One person I know well is continually being victimized by a past employer. It’s fascinating yet highly annoying to her. Tapped phones, zero retirement funds (they reversed what little was in there and re-fed the balance into the company’s account due to a supposed low balance), negative references to future employers without valid cause.  It’s amazing.  While she was working there, significant health problems arose.  It’s taken her months to recover.  

A chiropractor said that in her practice she noted that “it used to take one or two weeks, then one month, then two, and now three months to recover from a past job.”  The CDC reports that “in 1999, nearly 1 million people took time away from work to treat and recover from work-related musculoskeletal pain or impairment of function in the low back or upper extremities”  The estimated cost of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is somewhere between $45 and $54 billion each year (as calculated by the Institute in Medicine).

I love this quote: “It’s difficult to directly make the argument that engagement causes higher financial performance because when people are engaged, they don’t just immediately make profit. They show up for work, they please customers, they build a safer environment, they produce higher quality products — and those things accumulate to affect financial performance.”  I could just give Dr. Harter a hug.

Love what this article shares as well:

“Whether we looked at entrepreneurial startups or large, established enterprises, the same holds true: People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions. In fact, we found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day….

We can all think of creative geniuses tortured by depression (e.g., Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf), and many managers still believe stress and fear are the best ways to keep workers cracking. But if you pay careful attention to the data, rather than anecdotes and intuition, you’ll find it’s clear that happiness boosts performance.”

All I can say is that caustic behaviors and actions bite the employers – and the nation – more than is realized.  The costs that incur due to a bad work environment is detrimental on many levels.   The corporation can place blame on the individual, in yet the true source of responsibility most often comes from the corporation itself.

Let’s see what we can do to change negative into positive.  Let’s choose positive employers to work for and let negative  workplace environments find its own detriment.  Let’s live longer – and let our children live longer – by working in positive work environments.

Food: Yum???

Addiction to prescription medication is #1.  Food addiction comes at #2 as discovered by Jane Velez-Mitchell, author of Addict Nation.  Fat and sugar are considered to be self-prescribed therapeutic medications.

Ashley Gearhardt, Michael Roberts, and Marice Ashe wrote the article “If Sugar Is Addictive… What Does It Mean for the Law?” (found in the Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics) which included observations of sugar intake.  The following is what they discovered:

Sugar, a presumed “naturally occurring food ingredient” has become a common food additive.  This is a problem as it is found to be “capable of triggering addictive behaviors.”  Sugar consumption has significantly increased within the last decade which has been attributed to incidences of chronic diseases (such as obesity and diabetes – often intertwined with each other) tripling in number.

The study was performed on rats (yeah for it not being a human study) where they were offered the choice of illicit substances (i.e. cocaine) or sugar.  The rats chose sugar.  When sugar was offered intermittently, they often binged, increased their intake progressively, and exhibited biological symptoms of withdrawal when sugar was no longer provided.

A classic sign of addiction is when a substance is sought after by pursuing a substance despite the introduction of electric shock.  In this study, rats were found to seek sugar over an illicit substance (i.e. cocaine) despite the risk of being shocked.

Our human problem in the United States is that, as this article states, “food sustains life and reflects cultural values, while sugar is ubiquitous in the American food supply and is in many respects a cultural icon.” And thus the dilemma.  Food with sugar?  Or sugar with food.

Yeah for switching a 16oz Carmel Mocha for an 8 oz. bottle of Coke and Multigrain Cheerios instead of Froot Loops.   Yeah for a random assortment of fruit in my refrigerator.  I guess I’m making progress.

Vulnerability = Worthiness

A friend led me to a TED talk “Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability.” I absolutely love TED talks so I was eager to learn what I was about to learn.  She shared that those who “had it together” felt worthy.  She studied those who felt worthy and those who felt shame and fear.

Shame and fear are things that I’m acutely familiar with. Brene found that “the things that underpinned [shame and fear] is excruciating vulnerability. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen – really seen.” She further explains “The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they are worthy.”

She goes on to say “The one thing that keeps us out of connection is the fear that we are not worthy of connection.” In her study, the people who felt that they are worthy, “what they had in common was a sense of courage.” She also discovered that “these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.”

Brene shared a story where she shared her findings that “vulnerability is kind of the core of shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness. But it also appears it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

I look at my life. I have put myself in incredibly vulnerable situations. I have been exposed to, and have learned to learn from, many different cultures: the “outside” world – what I have since referred to as “the real world” (which there are many different types of what we might consider to be “the real world”); many different work environments and situations; many different locations within the United States here and abroad; exposure and escape from all types of abuse possible. I’ve gained and regained friends from all races and backgrounds.  I have bravely tried random churches and healing venues to find healing, answers, and meaning to life. I’m even blogging about what I think, feel, and have experienced for the world to see – an extremely vulnerable and scary thing to do.

I feel like I’m trying desperately to find answers and healing. It’s been a long, intense struggle that I strongly feel needs to end.  I’ve come a very long way.  I want to come to the top of the mountain, for me to find a heaven on earth.

In her TED talk, Brene suggests that not finding peace is related to numbing emotions. I don’t feel like I’m numbing emotions. However, I really don’t want to feel vulnerability, shame, grief, or fear. I put myself in situations in the effort to heal, to make myself feel and experience those things, but it’s still not working to the end goal of peace, joy, love, harmony. I make myself believe I am doing that. I’m always looking for ways to be grateful. I’m always looking for positivity. I’m always looking out for others and am able to help them – until recently while I’m trying to heal myself –for good. I’m always putting myself in vulnerable situations.

There are many times when I feel intense happiness, gratitude, peace, joy, and love.  However, with all these scenarios of abuse, it’s just not happening on a consistent basis.  And, when I’m digging up shit to find healing, well, it’s tough to find the good things life has to offer.  However, I’m always looking, always searching, always trying to “be.”  It strongly appears that I am missing something.

One thing Brene Brown suggests is to love myself. I am certain Louise Hays agrees with her. Louise Hays also suggests gratitude to be the ticket. The Christian Bible adds the tasks of asking, knocking and seeking.

Brene goes on to suggest, based on her research, that those who feel worthy “fully embraced vulnerability.” She shares: “They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable. Nor did they really talk about it being excruciating as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say ‘I love you first.’ The willingness to do something where there were no guarantees. The willingness to breathe through waiting for your doctor to call after your mammogram. The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

I have all of it down except the willingness to have another negative experience. I also don’t have the “I love you first” down yet either. I can share compassion, care, and help towards others (except, as of recently, for one-way friends, friends who are going through things that I just can’t help them with, friends who blame me or accuse me of ridiculous stuff related to their own craziness, or friends who are spinning their wheels). I’m coming to the point where I’m beginning to love myself, but I have a very long way to go. It is much easier for me to say “I hate myself” rather than, as Louise Hays and her friends suggest, to truly and authentically believe, “I love and accept myself just the way you are.”

And so I find myself in front of the mirror, attempting to reverse brainwashing – through self-induced brainwashing – by applying Louise L. Hay’s suggestion. I stand there and say: “I love you. I really, really love you. You are worthy. You are valuable. You are capable. You are competent. You are loved. You love. You’re a survivor and will continue to survive….” I pray to God it works.I beg to God that vulnerability and self-induced brainwashing will work – and work very, very quickly to start anew.  I beg for a feeling of a sense of worthiness and competence, completeness and wholeness – including healing that penetrates and envelops the core of my being.  This is what I’m begging for.  It took brainwashing and ridiculousness to result in these negative ideas and feelings, and it will take brainwashing and reassurance to heal from – and overcome – this mayhem.

And so, Brene Brown concludes: “And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

May you and I go in peace and love, joy and happiness, gratitude and vulnerability. May you and I love ourselves – truly and authentically love ourselves – just the way we are.

Read and Write: Write on!!

As I peruse through random blogs of random authors, I realize how many different styles of bloggers there are.  It’s rather fun.  It’s even better than going to a book store.  You never know what you’re going to run into with each peek into someone’s blog.  Some of the stories I’ve read are raw, detailed, and deeply personal.  Many are beautifully written. It makes me want to write better.

As I reflect on the different writing styles, I realize that a significant key to writing well is reflected on what is being read.  In addition, it seems to me that what we read reflects how we write.  I’m rusty in reading philosophical texts and novels.  However, I’ve managed to become proficient at reading websites, journal articles, and journal reviews.  I’ve noticed that my blog is becoming more of a journal entry reflective of the writing I need to do for my master’s program with a personal twist. The original purpose of my blog is much different than what is currently being produced.

As I reflect on what I remember from my past writing endeavors, what I’ve seen in blogs I’ve recently read, and my current writing style, I realize I might want to get back into reading a genre of literature that I want to reflect in my writing style.  It’s fun to free-flow my thoughts.  However, to be more effective, I just might need to immerse myself in other writings, blogs, and genres in the effort to gain a new “twist” to my writing style, become more proficient, and improve my writing skills.

Steve Tobak seems to agree with me.  For the site, he provides tips he has utilized to write well.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Read.. a lot… from a variety of genres.
  • Pay attention to the style of writing of whatever you are reading (email, blog, research article, books, etc).
  • Learn from other writers (including emails from bosses) and capitalize on what was effective
  • Organize your thoughts and write coherently.
  • “Be genuine, direct, clear and concise. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Less is more. Keep it simple.”
  • Make a genuine connection with your listening (i.e. reading) audience
  • Utilize the axiom: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.”
  • Be aware of grammar and composition – even if writing in conversational form.

Now it’s time for me to apply what I’m thinking might work, and what I’ve now learned has worked for others: Read… a lot… from a variety of sources and genres.  Pay attention as I read.  Be organized and coherent.  When I write, captivate and attract my intended audience.

Write on!!