Managing in a mad world.
Even in the midst of great pain, we must think through our choices
The last week has been really mad. I have been working in different companies and organisations and having to be part of redundancies, power struggles and people rebuilding their lives.
For example, I was in a company that had just let its second lot of people go in as many months. It’s gone past losing ‘dead wood’ and now people with valuable skills needed for recovery are going. I’ve noticed previously that good, employable people with key skills start to get concerned and will often take voluntary redundancy rather than hanging around to see how things pan out.
It’s the shocking way that it’s done as well that’s unbelievable. No warning, just a phone call to attend a meeting, no hint as to what the meeting is about, then an envelope slid across the table and then a rapid escort off site. All done and dusted in 5 minutes.
Having been through this myself some years ago, it’s not something you forget in a hurry. Lots of feelings of rejection and feeling unvalued and unwanted are what I remember. Perhaps its part of being bought up in a job-for-life culture and then having that illusion shattered.
Working with people in this situation is literally quite shocking and traumatic because it clearly affects them and their lives and the lives of their families, and it affects me because the work we started comes to an abrupt end usually with little or no warning, and so does a source of income to be brutally honest. I don’t even have chance to say good-bye in many cases.
Every Thursday I become a trainee psychotherapist and work with people who mostly struggle to hold down any sort of job. The reasons for this are generally because of upbringings that are awful beyond description. The shock and trauma that is in the air when working with these people is amazing, and so scary for them that the idea of being present in the room with me and is virtually impossible.
So that brings us to managing in a world where lots of mad and non-integrous things happen. I believe that mindfulness can provide a key to these situations; being present for another does more than any instruction manual!
Being present means we make ourselves available at many levels to someone who is suffering. By avoiding the subtle invitation to join someone in their shock and trauma but by being there for them, to the best of our ability and listening to them at depth, we can provide an environment where real reflection can take place. Then options may be chosen which are not born of panic and reaction but come from reflection and response.
I believe that this approach gets us out of the ‘noise machine in our heads‘ (that is forever churning and worrying, in my case) that we have no control over, and creates space for more subtle things to come through the quiet and calm.
Most people I’ve met in my engineering work like to assume that they think their way out of tight situations but I’m not convinced that this process is actually effective. I have heard and practised many times the activity of ‘sleeping on something’ and then being able to decide on a course of action the following morning with relative ease. My psychotherapy clients can’t think their way out the awfulness because thinking about things has got them into a spiral
process which is highly addictive, predictable and virtually impossible to break without the intervention of a higher level of awareness. I think it was Einstein who said something like, “you can’t use the same intelligence that created a problem to solve it“! In other words, a different approach or level must be used.
I believe that this different approach or level can be used to solve most problems we have. By bringing a different level of awareness to a challenge, whether it is redundancy or some other sort of deeper problem always gives different results and provides more options. It’s just that initially it needs to be facilitated, until we can do it under our own steam. I am heartened that even in the depths of a recession that there are still companies out there that support this approach and the work I do.
By Jon Lavin [This article from the BBC is worth reading in conjunction with Jon's excellent Post. Jon may be contacted via learningfromdogs (at) gmail (dot) com]