Bad Behavior and Your Happiness

The kinds of issues I discuss with clients often seem to come in waves. Patterns emerge. Of course I’m usually hearing about various levels of distress that women and men are experiencing at work, and not surprisingly, a difficult boss or team dynamic prompts a lot of people to seek my assistance.

Lately many conversations with clients seem to revolve around bad behavior of managers and people in power and how to do what’s best given the circumstances. On a broader level, as well, we’ve all been watching the undoing of many men who have used their power and status in despicable ways; while we feel relief that their gig is up, we’re also asking why did the unmasking of this undermining abuse take so long?

It’s hard to speak truth to power.

When we want to bring difficult topics and issues to light we know we need to be prepared and smart. It’s risky and scary to speak up. Bravery is required, and mustering the courage to be authentic with people who may shut us down is needed. In big and small moments we meet choice points about how we want to be. When we speak up about something important to us with a loved one, or at work with a team member or boss. There are always consequences to speaking up, just as much as there are consequences to not speaking up.

During this year I’ve done some contract work with clients at an addiction recovery center in Pismo Beach. While leading workshops and meetings there I learned about some terrible, egregious behavior that brought many of these clients to soothe themselves with addictions and other self-sabotaging behaviors. Most of us know someone who struggles with addiction, or have a personal experience with, addictive behaviors. We’re as sick as our secrets is a phrase that encourages us to remove the cover off the ‘secrets’ that are keeping things and people stuck in a place of ‘dis-ease’.

I think what we’re seeing, in a big major way, is the dis-robing of the lies and abuses that have been inflicted on women, and men, for so many years. As the wrap comes off, and we let the light shine on these transgressions we’ll all likely go through a bumpy time of diligent awareness and hyper-vigilance. We’ll be adjusting and perhaps awkwardly wondering how not to mistakenly behave insensitively or do or say things that might be misunderstood. We know this happens; we’ve seen it for years as we attempt to be PC and sensitive to others around us.

Clearly we know we’re in this monumental time of shift – in every way possible we see upheaval. Who and how we want to be during and throughout times of change is up to each of us. We each have an opportunity to claim our power – not over others but internally — to know our own intentions, and to lean these in the direction of what’s good and decent. We can choose to respond and not react. We can prepare ourselves to be balanced and grounded to increase our effectiveness to work with change, with difficulty, with a toxic environment, with others who are doing harmful things to us or others. When we come from a ‘clean’ place of non-harming intention we can be very powerful in small and large ways.

Here’s my 30 Day Challenge to you.

Choose one person who is challenging for you at work or at home. For at least two weeks, two times during your day think of this person and consider the challenges this person is facing in their life. What pressures or difficulties might this person be grappling with that’s prompting them to behave as they do? Who and what is important to them? What do you see as their intention? And what is your intention toward them? Is there jealousy or resentment? If so, why? Is there a way you can take care of yourself to ease your experience of negative or challenging feelings about this person?

Then, with a bit of generosity, wish them, and you, happiness and health. After two weeks, consider if this person is really doing something that is truly harmful to you or others. If you see that real harm is going on, you may want to take the steps to discuss what you’re seeing and experiencing with others who need to know what you’re seeing. Use the next two weeks to investigate options to implement some sort of change. With others who are supportive to you, you may have help to create a concerted effort to mitigate the damage being done. If you don’t find supporters, you’ll come to another decision point. What action will you need to take, from a clean place of intention to increase your safety and health?

Within these 30 days you’ll have positively impacted your life and the lives of others. You’ll have taken time, and studied action, to move forward with intention and clarity. It may not be easy or comfortable but you’ll be doing the right thing.

I’d love to hear how things are going for you, and how this challenge (if you choose to take it on) works for you. Please write and share your experiences and I will be happy to respond.