Are You Bringing Your Whole Self to Work?

Are You Bringing Your Whole Self to Work?

It’s interesting when I reflect on how I used to act and feel in the workplace. I learned from a young age that it was important to separate my work life from my personal life. In doing so I could protect myself, as in the workplace I would only share the parts of myself that I felt were valued. For example, my ability to write, to facilitate, to work collaboratively with others.

I recall when launching my coaching business in 2009, after 10.5 years of doing management consulting, how I felt like I could only share my new business with certain clients. Others I thought would think I was going “woo woo”.  After researching and writing program and policy documents in the health field, designing and facilitating multistakeholder and consultative processes, and doing qualitative studies, I launched the Creative Healing Center, a virtual center, where we coached people through various life transitions and integrated this with creativity, eastern psychology, the health-promoting and healing benefits of the arts, and alternative modalities. At that time, I felt like I was trying to balance on two Swiss balls and was being challenged to do so. I felt that my logical left brain that I had been operating from for so long, (or so I thought), was now being challenged by my creative and empathic right brain.

Recently in chatting with a Diversity and Inclusion consultant, biracial friend and colleague, she spoke about “code-switching”[1] and how women of color typically show up differently at work compared to with friends and at home. They do this because they feel and understand, based on experience, that if they bring their whole selves to work, they will not be valued, respected or promoted.

It made me reflect on which environments I felt most comfortable bringing my whole self to work in. Curiously it was in cross-cultural situations where I was working internationally with teams from countries such as Pakistan, Colombia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan; with people from cultures other than my own, that I brought my whole self to work. Curious isn’t it? Perhaps I had internalized from a young age that it was better to only share parts of myself in the North American work environment; and not to acknowledge my intuition and creativity?

How about you? Do you bring your whole self to work? What environments facilitate that? Which ones prevent you from sharing your whole self and why? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.


[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/achieving-health-equity/202012/what-is-code-switching

How to “Be the Change” – Part 1

How to “Be the Change” – Part 1

During these times of unprecedented change, how can you “be the change you want to see in the world”? You may be wanting to initiate change in your family, community, workplace, your own business … the world. Where do you start?

A good place to start is with yourself. Do some inner exploration. Some useful questions are: “How do I typically respond to change? Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 – 1 being scares me to death and 10 being I thrive on it. Then ask yourself “How do I typically respond to a change that is imposed on me or comes out of the blue?”  Rate yourself again on a scale from 1 to 10 and notice if there is any difference. It’s helpful to journal your responses to these questions.

Typically, we rate ourselves higher when we initiate or feel we have control over a change. When we feel it is imposed or comes “out of the blue” we often rate ourselves lower. That said many leaders thrive on change and you may be one of them.

Now ask yourself, “When I think about change what thoughts, words, emotions come up for me?”

You may also focus on a change that you are currently having to deal with and notice what thoughts, words or emotions come up for you. If there are some negative ones such as anger, resentment, fear … (which are natural), imagine each one as a rock in a knapsack on your back, feel the weight of them and then imagine releasing them all and having them all fall to the ground.

It is extremely important to identify negative feelings in our bodies, and to acknowledge and consciously release them, in order for us to move forward and embrace a change.

It is helpful to identify any old stories about change you may have learned from people close to you early in life who were trying to keep you safe. You may wish to rewrite your narrative around change and underpin it with a positive belief such as: “Embracing change is a creative process that opens me up to new possibilities.” Notice how that makes you feel.

Being self-aware of how you respond to change is important, as people close to you in your family, community, workplace … look up to you and learn from how you model and respond to change. Do you typically embrace or resist it?

What insights have you gotten from these exercises? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.

Celebrating Endings & New Beginnings: A Useful Process

Celebrating Endings & New Beginnings: A Useful Process

December is a great month to reflect on your achievements from the current year and to set intentions for the coming year.

A process that I’ve found to be extremely useful for myself and my clients is to answer the following questions and journal about them at the end of one year and before starting a new one.

Reflections:

What are the accomplishments I am most proud of in 2020? 

What am I most grateful for this year?

What lessons have I learned regarding relationships, work experience, my business, my own blind spots … over the past year?

Intentions:

What are my intentions for 2021 (in five areas)?

  • Personal life – i.e. What my personal life looks and feels like. Note that it is important to write your intentions in the present tense as if you have already accomplished them. For example; “I am strongly connected to myself, my gifts, my fears, my strengths. I courageously uncover any and all fears, doubts and limiting beliefs that are holding me back from standing in my true power and fulfilling my larger vision and mission … .”
  • Related to my Health i.e. What my health looks and feels like. “I feel great! My body is toned, strong and flexible. I radiate health and vitality – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. I do yoga 3 to 4 times/week, meditate daily and spend regular time in nature hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling …
  • Financial – i,e. What my financial life looks and feels like. “ I average $_______ thousand a month in terms of income generation through Creative Life Coaching & Consulting. I feel financially free and serene. I pay off my credit cards every month and my line of credit is paid off. …
  • Spiritual – i.e. What my spiritual life looks and feels like. “I continue to meditate daily and deepen my ability to go within and connect with the Universal wisdom. I continue to strengthen and listen to my body’s wisdom. … “
  • Intellectual – i.e. What my intellectual life looks and feels like. “I am flexible, flowing and open to new ideas. I connect with my creativity easily and effortlessly. … I blog regularly and creative ideas come to me easily. I design and facilitate workshops and retreats that many women connect with and learn from.”

I encourage you to experiment with the process above. Feel free to change the titles of the 5 areas suggested to ones that resonate for you. Reviewing your intentions quarterly and noting how you’re doing in relation to them, helps keep them top of mind and provides encouragement to move forward. Using your intentions as a “touch stone” at the end of each year to review your achievements is helpful.

Celebrating your accomplishments feels so good and is important to provide you with the energy and commitment to move forward and fulfill your intentions. Here’s a short video that explains why it is important to celebrate.

Best of luck reflecting on 2020 and setting bold intentions for 2021. To your health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace!

I invite you to try out the process and welcome your comments below. Feel free to share this post with others.

What have You Learned from COVID-19?

What have You Learned from COVID-19?

We are almost 9 months into the pandemic. How has it been for you? It is useful to reflect on what you’ve learned from a life change/period of uncertainty/transition.

According to William Bridges, author of “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes”, in order to move successfully from one life transition to another, it is important to let go of any negative emotions associated with it, to celebrate the positive aspects and lessons learned from it … and to get clear on your vision for a new life, relationship, career, business.

Bridges differentiates between a life change and a transition. He states that a life change is situational and external to us, whereas a transition is internal and psychological. It is the internal work we do to adapt and reorient ourselves to our new external reality.

Research and life experience show that if we don’t do the internal transition work, then we often recreate the same patterns in our lives. An example is someone after 3 marriages realizes that s/he has married 3 men/women who are similar having dealt with the same issues in each marriage, never resolving them but instead recreating them and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled or moving on to the next.

In my personal life, work with clients, and interviews with leaders, I’ve discovered that people have reacted in many different ways during the pandemic. Some were initially knocked off balance and found it really challenging to deal with all the changes in their work-life, family life, and personal life. They had difficulty focusing and were unproductive. Many have been “up and down” in terms of their emotions and focus during the pandemic. In contrast, others after the initial shock, found their creative juices flowing and dove into new projects. They continue to feel energized and optimistic.  

No longer having to commute to work, many have taken time to reflect and realized the work they were doing was not fulfilling. They have been preoccupied thinking of how they can transition out of a “real” job and start that business they’ve been dreaming about.

Others are reeling from the loss of a loved one or loved ones who were sadly taken from them due to COVID-19. Still others have recovered from COVID-19 with negative impacts on their health that have forced them to change their lifestyles and adapt to their “new normal”.

The pandemic, in the context of change and uncertainty, has caused much upheaval in many of our lives. It has also put us in touch with how we typically respond to change and why. Do you typically embrace or resist change and uncertainty?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to reflect on and provide you with insight into how you respond to change and uncertainty. I encourage you to take some time and journal your responses to the following questions: What have you learned from COVID-19 about …

yourself?

your partner?

your family?

your workplace/who you work for/your team?

how you work best?

the environment?

Inequities happening around the world?

Learn from and embrace life transitions is one of the 7 keys in my book “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women”. Several years after writing it and coaching a number of business and professional women, I realized that out of the 7 keys, it is the master key that “unlocks the door” to a life of increased health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace.

Working further with leaders and changemakers, I created the Art of Change Framework: A Guide to Personal and Organizational Change.  If you’d like to learn more about how to embrace change, I invite you to access “The Art of Change Framework” on my homepage at: https://pamela-thompson.com/

What have you learned about yourself and others since COVID-19 began? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.

How Can We Create a World that Works for Everyone?

How Can We Create a World that Works for Everyone?

The way many of us in the world are currently living and working is not sustainable. The way our organizations and societies are structured, how they are led, and how success is defined are being questioned. Our day-to-day actions and the beliefs and values on which they are based, are resulting in many of us experiencing chronic stress leading to negative impacts on our bodies, minds, relationships, productivity, and our bottom lines.

Our reliance on fossil fuels and a world focusing on consumption and the belief that earth’s resources are infinite are now being challenged. We now have data to show how nature can heal itself if we let her. Many of us are finally embracing the need to take action to preserve and save our beautiful planet and the fauna and the flora within it.

COVID-19 has shone the light on a number of the inequalities such as systemic racism, gender-based violence … and we are now acknowledging that we need to take action NOW toward creating a world that works for everyone.

What can you do? Where can you start?

We know that change starts from the inside-out and begins with each and every one of us.

The 7 keys to what I call Creative Living and the strategies and practices associated with them are an excellent starting point to begin to “be the change”.

I introduced the concept of Creative Living in my book Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women”. Creative Living is defined as the “conscious cultivation of improved health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace.”

There are 7 keys to Creative Living with proven practices and powerful strategies based on my own journey and work with clients from diverse cultures and backgrounds that are supported by evidence from neuroscience, the health promoting and healing benefits of the arts, organizational development and eastern psychology.

The 7 keys to Creative Living are:  1) Listen to and Trust in Your Body’s Wisdom; 2) Tap into and Express Your Creative Side; 3) Consciously Create Right and Left Brain/Body Balance; 4) Live in Alignment with Your Core Values; 5) Believe that You are Here to Make a Difference; 6) Learn from and Embrace Life Transitions; and 7) Find Inner Peace and Build Peace in Your Family, Community, Workplace … the World.

If you would like to learn more you can access “Learning to Dance with Life” on Amazon. Here’s a link: Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women

In my next few posts, I will be sharing how each of the 7 keys can support you to “be the change” you want to see in the world. Stay tuned!

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your comments below; e.g. What strategy or strategies do you believe are important for creating a world that works for everyone?

How Can You Contribute to Building Peace?

How Can You Contribute to Building Peace?

What are you doing to contribute toward building peace in your family, community, workplace, the world?

Today is International Day of Peace (“Peace Day“) a day that is observed around the world on September 21st. It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 “as a shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

You may be thinking “how can I contribute to building peace in the world?” How can I really make a difference?

I believe that we all have a role to play in helping build peace in the world, and that each and every one of us CAN make a difference.

Building peace starts from the inside out. When we find inner peace and model it for others, we then help build peace in our families, our communities, our workplaces … the world.

What do I mean by peace?

I’d like to share a poem that for me describes inner peace (source unknown).

“Peace.

It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise, trouble

or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of

these things and still be calm

in your heart.”

What do you do to find inner peace?

Here are a few proven strategies and powerful practices that I use to help stay calm, focused and grounded.

Starting the day off right:

  • Rather than leaping out of bed and “hitting the ground running” make a conscious effort to quiet your mind and scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Notice any tension or discomfort; breathe into these areas and consciously release and let of the tension.
  • Do some conscious stretching. I incorporate some yoga stretches with crunches to awaken my body before I do anything else. Mindfully massaging different joints of your body from head to toe is also meditative.
  • Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes. There are a number of digital products available to help you do this. I have found Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditation experiences helpful as they focus on a key theme, and each day, break down the theme. In addition, beautiful nature sounds and music play in the background to assist you in relaxing and staying focused.
  • Ground yourself. Being centered and grounded helps you to be more responsive rather than reactive when interacting with others. “For example, with our family members, when we are centered, grounded and at peace we truly focus on each individual and connect with them at the heart level. They then feel listened to, understood, accepted, and loved. Likewise in the workplace if a colleague gets upset or angry we can show empathy and understanding rather than reacting to them with frustration or as if they are a threat.”[1]

Here is a tool I have found extremely useful in helping me to get centered and grounded. I do this exercise at the start of every day and also before I head into an important meeting or go “on stage” for a speaking event. I go somewhere quiet (depending on the venue it may be a washroom stall), then close my eyes and take several deep breaths to get into my body. I imagine I have roots growing out of the bottom of my feet going deep down into the earth. Then I imagine drawing the earth’s energy coming up through my feet, legs and into my heart. I then imagine I have branches reaching up to the sky to access the universal or source energy (or whatever you wish to call it) and feel that energy coming down through my head and neck and into my heart. I imagine that I am grounded to the earth and to the sky. This enables me to be much more powerful in the work I do and to be less reactive and more responsive in my interactions with others at work or at home.

Throughout the Day:

  • Spend regular time in nature – Being in nature is therapeutic. Walking among trees (e.g. in parks and forests) releases stress in our bodies. After several decades of research, the Japanese have demonstrated that walking among trees decreases our heart rate, our blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our body produces. Being in on or by water clears our energy field and helps ground us.  
  • Be grateful for what you have. On awakening or at the end of the day write down 3 to 5 things you are grateful for. There is mounting evidence on the benefits of gratitude:

“With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.

In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness

lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also

helps people connect to something larger than themselves

as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”[2]

For additional tools to support you to find inner peace and also to help build peace in your family, community, workplace … the world, check out my book “Learning to Dance with Life” that is underpinned by evidence from neuroscience, eastern psychology and the health-promoting and healing benefits of the arts.

I’d love to hear what tools you use to start your days off right, and to find peace amidst the chaos of daily life and work. I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences below.

Here’s to helping build peace in the world one person at a time!


[1] Thompson, Pamela, Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women, p. 144

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier