Attachment is an interesting thing…

In the pursuit of furthering my purpose in the space of physical and mental wellbeing, I am 2.5 subjects away from completing my Grad Dip in Counselling. The .5 subject is Grief and Loss which is currently focussed on Attachment Theory. If you’ve never come across it, it pertains to how we humans interact with a ‘secure base’.  This may be a care giver as a child, a significant other as an adult, or even a workplace. There are four styles: Secure, Anxious Ambivalent, Anxious Avoidant, and Disorganised.

Why is this relevant?
Knowing your attachment style is an interesting piece of information. Understanding and taking the time to see how it plays out in your work and home life can be quite insightful. What is there to gain from understanding or being aware of this?

You can identify your Attachment Style characteristics.  

Relationships of all forms can be impacted by attachment style even the interaction to the workplace entity, outside of individual relationships with colleagues. We don’t often think about it, yet when people experience the loss of a role, job or separation from an employer, there can be a strong emotional response. Having previously worked with long tail insurance claims, the emotional component played out as perceived ‘rejection’ and left a residual bitterness many years after their last day of work. This often created an additional barrier to moving forward in their life.  It was quite evident it impacted their own feelings of self-efficacy and self confidence across their whole life. Understanding how your attachment style patterns play out can assist in providing your own self-support in periods of unrest.

The emotional rollercoaster wont last as long if you know your patterns.  How they shift between different approaches pending the circumstances is also important.  Meaning, you can do something about it. If you’re aware your background is an ‘anxious style’  that leads to distancing yourself or becoming overly attached in times of stress, having tools in your arsenal to bring you back to a ‘secure’ perspective can be helpful beyond measure. You may still initially respond in your previous manner, though rather than following it down the usual rabbit hole you have choices. Sometimes that’s enough to stem the flow of momentum for a moment of clarity. Pairing knowledge with breathing is a really good approach.

Something like this:
1. Receive information / be in situation
2. Feel emotions shift
3. Pause for breath (you have to do that to live anyway, right?)
4. Consider why you are feeling this way
5. Knowing what you know about yourself, what’s the best choice of action in this moment?

For example, I know that generally speaking I am a securely attached person. However, in situations and circumstances where I am feeling particularly exposed or vulnerable I can become either anxious avoidant or anxious ambivalent. This can also happen if I’m run down or haven’t been looking after myself with sleep, exercise and fun.  If I catch it, I know that I have to use my tools or I’ll end up saying/doing/reacting in a manner that’s out of sync with who I am.  Then I’ll have to deal with that mess too. Ultimately, it’s a learning process built on self reflection and self awareness. Plus, having an understanding that those ‘in the moment’ emotions are fine, they don’t have to define the whole situation and subsequent outcome though.

If you think about a situation at work and at home, can you identify similar emotional loops? Do you ever wonder why this cyclic process is happening in your world and how the hell you can change it?

What I love to do
This brings me to what I love to do – assist others with having a life that is easier. Recognise and respond, rather than react.
Tools, understanding, insights, practical approaches – that’s my style. My flavour is bringing this into all aspects of life – mental, physical and emotional. You bring your life, your interests; I’ll bring the the space for discovery, with a touch of fun and a whole lotta joy.  What could be more joyful that opening yourself up to a new way of approaching life’s tricky situations?
Get in touch and lets chat.

Ergonomics are an interesting thing…

A strange thought occurred to me as I was reflecting on the past week and the conversations I’d had.  Off the back of an ergonomic blitz across Brisbane I saw some interesting parallels in conversations around relationships.

Ergonomics at your workstation are a pretty good metaphor for relationships.  Hear me out…

A good ergo station supports you to be in a good posture.  It should literally have your back.  Good lumbar support, a good foundation for your feet and seat help minimise poor postural loading whilst you go about your work tasks.  A good monitor height and distance allows for an upright mid back and neck, reducing the risk of shoulder, neck and eye strain. No arm rests mean you can access your work station in an unencumbered manner and there is a reduced risk of slouching off to one side or having your traps around your earlobes.  Your workstation should support you to do your tasks, feel comfortable whilst completing them, yet prompt you to get up and load change on a regular basis. This last one is kinda up to you though.  Remember, the best posture is always the next one.  These bodies like some dynamic blood flow on a regular basis.

Now, in my experience, lots of people rock up to their new desk and get to work without taking a moment to adjust it to their specific needs.  They end up with aches and physical complaints, which can also make a person down right cranky.  Their body will literally slide and manoeuvre into the position that the station is set up for, the path of least resistance.  Not great for the long haul and not great for daily productivity.  It usually ends with a headache, back pain and perhaps some lingering shoulder pain to boot.

Now, lets apply this to relationships.

There is a certain level of accomodation that takes place in a relationship, depending on the dynamic.  Let’s strip it back to the ergonomic basics.  Is there a good foundation?  Do you feel supported or are your feet hanging from the seat pan with the edge of the chair digging into your hamstrings causing on going discomfort?  Is there inadequate support from the other person because they are the wrong fit or is a simple seat pan adjustment and foot rest required (read ‘conversation’) and all will be well? Are there pesky ‘arm rests’ (read ‘poor habits’) that lead to behaviours preventing from engaging fully in a meaningful manner that promotes sustainability?  Do these poor habits encourage a tendency to favour one side, leading to kinks up and down the relationship kinetic chain and that ultimately result in a headache or shoulder pain (Like for real pain, a physical presentation of emotional stress/discomfort/annoyance)? Are the arm rests built in, meaning they are not easily removed and as such create an ever present barrier? Is it a matter or lowering them and moving on, or will they forever be hitting the desk and making themselves known?

How’s the perspective?  The monitor height and distance suitable for your needs? Is there associated glare that makes it hard to distinguish between what’s happening and what you think is happening? Are you working with a 50:50 split, or are you more a 70:30 kind of focus? Are you having to lower your sights to match what’s happening or are you straining upwards to see things clearly?  Imagine if you could set it up so the vision was clear and work in a productive and conducive manner.  Oh the joy!

Lastly, who’s responsibility is it to address things that are causing discomfort and pain?  Even if you are in the most perfect of set ups, eventually you will have to move now and again to get some fresh blood and oxygen to those muscles.  Too much sitting in the one spot isn’t great for our physical selves.  That part is on you.  Get up, move around, do something that brings you joy.  It’ll make you happier when you return to your workstation and far more productive.  Same thing in relationships.  Take note when it’s time to be accountable for how you feel and adjust your behaviours appropriately.  At the end of the day, you only experience your perspective – you’re in charge of the refresh rate of your attitude and approach.
I like to make it the best one possible.

If you’re in a workstation that doesn’t fit you, it takes communication and understanding to make a change.  Some tweaks, workstation adjustments and education on how to best interact with your set up will create an alignment that you will be happy to return to and cease avoiding.  It’s up to you to ‘load change as required’ for perspective and this can provide empowerment when feeling dissatisfied and cranky.  It’s interesting to me how many people adjust their bodies and their emotions to fit what is around them, only to realise that it’s causing them anguish in the long term.  I’m all about pro-activity and seeking out a great fit.  Ergonomics is about feeling good and supported at your workstation, isn’t that a great approach to relationships of all kinds also?

Rest easy, work well.

Hayley

Anticipation is an interesting thing…

I find myself sitting at the dining room table on a Saturday night surrounded by text books, writing implements, music and my dog.  I am sitting here researching an assignment on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  This is a ‘third wave’ approach that is mostly associated with Steven Hayes, Dr Russ Harris in Australia is kicking some notable goals with it also.  With each theory I spend time learning about, I feel like I’m ever closer to seeing my first paying client.  I can see how these elements can help the people deal with themselves and others.  It’s not a one stop shop for all conditions, for all people, for all situations.  This is one of the things I love learning about most, the uniqueness simply has to be integrated into each person’s approach.  This is also what I love about Exercise Physiology.  Taking the physical presentation of a client, then layering it with all of the psycho-social threads they present to you.  Goal as treating clinician is to identify and collaborate with the client how, in the context of their psycho-social environment, we can move them forward physically.

To recap: I’m a bio-psycho-social nerd. I am friendly though, which I have going for me!

As I sit at my computer, as I sit in tutorials, as I sit at my desk(s) at work, I can see how it all fits together theoretically.  I can see how my therapeutic collaboration with clients can assist – in as big or little manner as they choose.
As I sit with anticipation, I ponder: what is this skillset I have to offer the world going to shape into?

I am enjoying all the learning, all the pieces showing themselves to me.  My greatest desire is to take a giant piece of golden metaphorical thread and weave them all together.  Resulting in a tangible experience that shifts people’s lives in a forward and positive way.  Pulling the etherial into the experiential.

Whilst I am sitting with anticipation – I practice meditation (practice what your preach/practice), mindfulness, distancing hypothetical thoughts (an ACT technique), and play.  Play with appreciation is my fave.  I can guarantee it will be highly featured in my work moving forward.

I guess that means I’ll leave you, dear reader, with some anticipation of your own. I know this work I do will be big and audacious, in a loving and playful manner.  Let the anticipation build!

Hayley

 

Emotions are an interesting thing…

Emotions. Chemical reactions that happen in the brain. They are scary things sometimes.  They can lead to outcomes that are unexpected and bodily sensations that are uncomfortable.  Taking a minute to understand emotions and how they play out in the body can offer a smidge more empowerment towards controlling your responses in an charged situation.

Take for instance the sense of rejection. This may come from a friend, family member, work situation, car salesman, some kind of external environment – or be entirely made up in your own mind.  There have been situations in life whereby whatever circumstances I have perceived the situation to be one of rejection. Cue brain overload with indignation, arguments with invisible people in my mind, increase of heart rate, increase of shallow breathing, a release of adrenaline (depending on how successful I am in the argument in my head) – there is a full body response. 

Then comes the funny part.  The part where the situation is resolved through communication.  You get an email, a phone call, have a chat with the person who you are feeling ‘rejected’ by and you discover that their reality of what happened is vastly different to yours.  A misunderstanding! A miscommunication! You realise that your expectations and internal dialogue played a large role in the emotional (and physical) experience.  The context was all made up, built off a foundation that didn’t exist for anyone except myself, yet the experience of ‘being rejected’ was very real. 

If we take a view at this through Gestalt theory, the old habit of immediately jumping to a ‘rejection’ headspace may be a learnt protection which goes on to also prevent personal growth. The ability to step back objectively and take responsibility for what’s happening within your body and mind is a form of growth itself.  It can be incredibly uncomfortable. Like all things that facilitate growth, it may be painful and it’s totally worth it.  Think of teeth, think of growing pains as our bones and joints develop, think of any learning phase for a new skill set. Without growth we become stagnant, stuck, and disconnected.  There are many filters in which we can view our mind-body connection and how our brains impact our body and vice versa.  This is one example that most people can likely relate to on some level. 

Through the willingness to look at what’s happening in real time, it allows me to take actions towards decreasing the impact on my mood and my physical body.  I still feel rejected; I do a quick body scan to notice where the tension is, I breathe a little deeper, I look at why the feeling of rejection in this situation hurts, what was I attached to? Was it really a rejection of me or was it that I had in built expectations that were not being met? Perhaps I reframe my thinking around the ‘what happened’ and see if that takes some of the sting away.  Ultimately, I am the one who has to deal with this emotion and how I let it land on me.  In most cases, I look for a lesson or a value that I can take away in an effort to progress my own growth.  It still may hurt, now like growing teeth or learning how to do a handstand, that hurt serves a purpose.

These chemicals have very real implications for life and how you see things.

Be brave and kind to yourself!

Strength is an interesting thing…

Strength, like all things, needs to be balanced.  How does one balance strength?  What do we temper it with?  In the same way that people view muscle bulk (the physical example of ‘strength’ for this example) in differing lights, we can also view the emotional presence of strength in different ways too.  Linking back to the physical example, from a functional perspective muscle bulk needs to create force in all ranges for it to be useful.  Otherwise you’re left with bulk that serves little purpose other than to look at (which may be the goal in some cases).

What do we need to know to create emotional strength that can serve us in a useful manner?  Excellent question.  A great place to start is with emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  Being able to demonstrate strength and then back it up with the foundation of self-reflection and self-care is vital to strength being available on a consistent basis.  If we reserve all our emotional fortitude for the workplace, or one relationship in particular, the rest of our sphere begins to suffer or be drained.  This may be situationally necessary to ‘get through’ a rough time, yet being able to return to self-awareness and subsequently apply self-care strategies is vitally important.

Another component, okay 2 components, in my mind are the ability to be humble and flexible.  Whilst having a goal and backing it with a strong mental fortitude is important, being a bull at a gate may come at a cost.  For better or worse (usually better, perspective pending) we live in a world filled with other people.  If you are striving to achieve a goal, involving others may be inevitable.  The ability to be humble and openly listening to other’s ideas demonstrates strength of character and ultimately good leadership.  Being humble and flexible doesn’t take away from your values, staying true to your core values is an important part of strength of character.  How much more respect do you have for someone who is strong in character, yet humble and flexible in nature?

How do we build emotional strength that is functional and balanced? Introspection, conversation, and the willingness to look at yourself honestly. After those steps are done, or even whilst your moving through the process, take the action.  Action is how we show up to others, and ultimately who we are for other people is the demonstration of who we are in life.

Get amongst it.

Breathing is an interesting thing…

Today I was brought back to breath.

It’s always surprising to me that the most basic function of being alive is something that we actively restrict in a variety of ways.  We hold our breath when we’re scared, excited, nervous, our chest muscles get tight and short by way of our activities of daily living,  even the way we stand limits our capacity for breath.

When delivering presentations, I find people arrive looking to ‘fix what is wrong’ and I listen as they outline the struggles they face on a daily basis.  The context and content varies, the themes remain the same. Communication, resilience, and empathy.  These are the elements that always make their way to the forefront of conversation, no matter the topic.

You see, it all starts with one person and their ability to breathe.

If there is breath, there is the possibility of listening. If there is a possibility of listening, there is the chance of feeling heard. This is the foundation of what may be a good communication interaction.  Can you imagine feeling heard by every person you speak with today? How freeing that would be understood.

Try an experiment for me (after all, life is made up of lots of experiments.  Some are super successful, others teach us a LOT!).  Today, when someone speaks to you, take a breath, focus your attention on them and what they have to say.  You may or may not agree with the content, you may need to ask additional questions, it may take up a bit more time than you anticipated.  Focus on them and allow them to feel heard and understood by you. Before the conversation is finished, you can even ask them if they feel they need to add anything else or confirm they feel understood.

When the conversation is done, before you move onto the next action item in your day – take note of how that interaction went. Did the other party leave seeming satisfied/happier/more engaged? Or was there no change/they were the same/worse off? Would you change anything if you had a do-over? The whole point of an experiment is that you check in with the outcomes and reach a conclusion you can work from.

The key part to all of this is that you took a breath and ran the experiment in the first place.  Give it a try, the worst outcome is that nothing changes, thought your body will have more oxygen available to it!  The best is that you have a series of insightful interactions and gain a better understanding of the where the other person is at.  This leads to a more productive style of communication, more fulfilling for all parties regardless of if it’s at work or at home.

Give it a shot and let me know!

Resilience is an interesting thing…

Right, well. That’s a large topic for a Sunday.

I was talking to a friend, let’s call her Jane, who lives overseas who has been having a rough time at work and in life these past weeks.  We had spoken briefly earlier in the week and her affect was the flattest I’d ever heard of her.  It’s a tough thing to hear someone your close with in pain and be able to do so little in the way of support.  All I could do was remind Jane that I’m here to talk to and that I think she is an awesome person.  Little things that can add up to a lot, right?

It turns out that the system Jane works within has not been able to support her, resulting in verbal abuse from customers, minimal support from her supervisor, and essentially being the recipient of interesting (read: inaccurate and hurtful) workplace rumours.  At the end of Jane’s work week, in a state of shock (post verbal abuse from a customer) a colleague sent her home.  Being the intelligent lass she is, Jane took herself off to the gym and allowed the endorphins to work their magic.  In that moment, Jane was able to gain perspective on how she was going to approach the situation and found some inner joy that she could bring back into her day.

I love Jane’s approach for a number of reasons:
1. The stress response from being yelled at – fight or flight – was put to good use in a productive way at the gym.  Under repetitive conditions, I have seen the body turn into in all kinds of unpleasantness in response to stress – blisters under fingernails, open welts and rashes on skin, unexplainable muscle pain… the list goes on.
2.  Jane took responsibility for how she felt in the moment.  Through the interaction with the customer she was polite and calm, then fell apart the moment she felt safe to do so.  Rather than let that emotion remain with her for the rest of the day and wallow in what had occurred to her, Jane removed herself from the situation,  pumped some tunes at the gym and broke into spontaneous dance.  Jane’s joy comes from music – singing and dancing.  Tapping into this allowed Jane’s mood to lift and provided a clearer perspective on the rest of her day.

Ultimately, Jane returned to work that day and was in a position to be able to speak frankly from a proactive perspective with her upper manager.  This outcome may not have been possible if the conversation had occurred without first addressing the Biological (stress response) and then Psychological (thought process and subsequent emotional state)  impact of her work situation.  Jane independently built her resilience back up, addressed her own accountability to being part of the solution and moved forward in a positive manner, for herself and her employer.
Rock star that she is!

Meditation is an interesting thing…

I was pottering around this morning and an idea struck me to listen to an audio book whilst I removed stray sticks and rocks from my puppy’s mouth.  I have a pretty sweet app that links me into my local city council library and have taken advantage of listening and reading books on my ipad all over the world. Technology can be super awesome.

Perusing through the categories, I felt like a non-fiction title (recommendations welcome) and I noted that ALL of the books in the ‘Meditation’ category were currently out on loan.  All of them.  If that isn’t a key indicator into the current state of things!
Pulse check via the library meditation section!

It makes my heart happy that people are seeking information and strategies, all 31 books out in the ether assisting people in dealing with life.  In terms of readiness to make a shift in behaviour – it means those ‘borrowers’ have hit the preparation phase and are seeking information or are in the action phase and are applying it into their days.  More people breathing and calming their nervous system….
That’s got to have a positive impact in the world!

Stages of Change:
Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance
(Prochaska & Velicer, 1997)