The business of getting better: part 3

The business of getting better: part 3

Changing the world, one conversation at a time.

When we run programs at Landing Strong, we spend quite a bit of time discussing how to create an environment that feels comfortable and safe. Participants tell me that it’s not uncommon to walk into a community coffee group where they’re initially having a good time, only to have the mood shift once the subject of politics comes up. Suddenly the tone is angry and loud. Instead of ideas and insights forming the discussion, hard opinions become the propulsion for discussion.  Listening decreases as each person fixates on ensuring their “truth” is heard.  

 When this happens, I know it’s just a matter of time until the conversation shuts down, and the potential for insights and wisdom arising from the discussion are lost. 

Speaking truthfully without hurting feelings, writes Cheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, is an acquired skill.  It’s that wonderful balance between appropriateness and authenticity. 

In her book Lean In, Sandberg notes “When communicating hard truths, less is more…The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak.”

What if we all made it our mission to seek to understand the opinions of others, without needing to be right?  How would the world change?  We may disagree with what we hear, but at least by listening we are inviting an opportunity for dialogue. Sowing the seeds of change.  If we are able to shift our focus from being heard, to accepting the uniqueness of each person’s truth, the discussion becomes richer.

I have to admit, I don’t always master this art.  But I try.

Please join me in noticing the tone and manner in which we communicate with others.  Is it inviting or overbearing? Welcoming or deflective?

As Sandberg confirms, being aware of the problem is the first step to correcting it.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Finding Your Edge

Finding Your Edge

Recently I received a piece of feedback that produced food for thought. A veteran commented that professionals have been telling him for years to try to go out in public, but when he does, he is quickly overwhelmed.

“…it’s like being asked to jump into the deep end of the pool without properly knowing how to swim.”

He emphasized the importance of teaching people with PTSD to swim before asking them to take up high diving.

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a common saying “go hard or go home”.  In the case of recovery from Operational Stress Injuries, this is a terrible strategy. The trick is to go forward slowly, with self-compassion.

I remember a yoga teacher once said to me “find the edge, and lean into it”.

“What’s the edge?” I asked.

“It’s that point where you are no longer comfortable, but not so far as to cause injury.” My instructor explained. The edge can even change while you are doing the exercise, so it is important to adjust. The truth is I have been doing yoga for a number of years, and I am still as stiff as a board. So my “edge” isn’t very far out. I used to be hard on myself about it, looking at how flexible everyone else in the class is while I closely resemble a cardboard cut-out figure.

Now I don’t sweat it so much. I’m just happy I made it there. I dropped out of high intensity yoga, and instead take restorative yoga, which is gentler, and more forgiving. Baby steps… that’s the key.

Only you know where your edge is. For each person it is different. If you haven’t been out in a while, it may be simply stepping on your back porch for 5 minutes and feeling the sunshine on your face. It may be writing a text or email to a single friend. It may simply be showing up for your doctor’s appointment.

So please don’t go off the high diving board.  A little toe in the water is fine.