Work that Helps the “Greater Good”? How About Good for Your Well-being at the Same Time?

So many people don’t know the right direction for their work in the world, for their career or business. Not to mention confusion around how it fits in with the Greater Good.

I love that some people are asking the question about serving in a meaningful way. Yet I know they worry about how to do good work without overwhelm, or whether they can actually find or create meaningful work that can also meet their needs for income and rest.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find the overlap between feeling good for you and your needs, and feeling good for the needs of the Greater Good, all together? That’s what I call the “Best Use of You”. It feels great, not draining.

What is the best use of you? Good work without burnout? There are simple steps to find your way.

Work can feel great. And it should if it’s truly the best use of you.

I have found ways that work, for me, and the way I came to it seems to also work for others, even in many different circumstances. We are finding ways to serve the Greater Good in our work, without overwhelm. I’ll explain. Continue reading

Having a Big Heart Can Also Mean Big Exhaustion. Start with Grounding.

My clients and I have big hearts (naturally empathetic), which means we automatically care about people and how it’s going in the world all around us. It’s a gift, and… sometimes it can lead to taking on more stress or responsibility than one body can handle.

We can be at risk for overwhelm from others’ energy or the ever maddening news. Well, let’s be honest, overwhelm can come just as easily from the inner critic (which says things like “You’re not good enough”). This week it was the national news that got to me.

But we have things to do here on earth. Ya know? People with big hearts are needed!

So, I’m thinkin’ we have to find a way that works for us. We need to manage our outer and inner roadblocks as job #1. We won’t be able to live our purpose if we don’t. The solution is not to shut our hearts down. It’s to stay open but add in effective grounding.

We need a giant Pause button so we can find solid ground and start from there.

Persephone, sculpture by Valerie Gilman

She’s saying to me: “Stop, let me take a pause!” Sculpture artist: http://www.valeriegilman.com

As a highly sensitive introvert, I’ve had to find good grounding methods so I can keep living my purpose without exhaustion. I know we can do this.

In this post, I’m including:

  • what I mean by grounding and why it matters so much,
  • what works for me,
  • a self-assessment to help you choose your best grounding methods.
  • a way to learn a simple method that’s especially good for calming during tough moments.

Continue reading

The Introvert’s Easy Path To Going For It… Without Getting Overwhelmed

One of the main worries or fears I hear from introverts sounds like this:

“How am I supposed to put myself out there when I’m too introverted for that?”
OR
“How can I move towards what I want when it feels overwhelming just thinking about it?”

Have you said anything like that to yourself?

I’m an introvert too and I know I’ve said those things. Luckily, I have learned through experience that phrases like “I’m too introverted for that” or “I won’t be able to handle it” are false. Not just for me, but false for all of us.

I’m not saying you need to become someone other than yourself either. In fact, don’t do that! It won’t help or feel good. I’ll explain.

The truth is that you don’t have to get overwhelmed or drained when you go for something you want. No matter if you’re introverted, extroverted, or in between. Really.

Our human brains play a trick on us, trying to keep us safe, by telling us that if we leave the comfort zone of the known, we’ll freak out or get overwhelmed, like in the image below.

That’s the fear part of the mind trying to keep us safe. Simple survival system. Not very sophisticated.

So we feel stuck and we stop moving forward. It’s very common to get stuck right there.

Comfort zone vs overwhelm zone image

This is what your brain tries to tell you, to stop you in your tracks: “Don’t leave the comfort zone or else.”

I’ll explain in the video below with a simple diagram that will give you a big Aha moment. (Making the video was outside my comfort zone so you can watch me facing my discomfort zone in real life.)

Continue reading

How Do I Cope with Conflict and Speaking Up at Meetings?

Ack, conflict. Tough for most of us. And at work with all that pressure? Or in an activist group where you care so much but then we can’t get along?

I got a great question about conflict for my advice column for introverts, so I’ll share it here as a way to help us face this one:

Dear Val,

I sat through a meeting this week during which a client and my boss had a very strongly worded, aggressive disagreement. The client wasn’t raising his voice, but his words, tone, and body language were very combative, and my boss was trying to defend our position against his.

I have a hard time with this type of conflict: that type of aggressive tone makes me really jittery and produces an adrenaline-fueled “flight” reaction. I spent a lot of the meeting hoping it wasn’t obvious how much I was shaking.

I also avoid interrupting others in a conversation, so fast-paced arguments make it extra hard for me to know what to do. My instinct is to avoid getting involved and to not draw more attention/ire toward myself.

In situations like these, I often feel that if I open my mouth, I might start crying, which I know is read as extremely unprofessional and is something I particularly would want to avoid when I am already being dismissed as young, inexperienced, and insufficiently skilled at my job.

However, sometimes I know there is information that I have or perspectives I can bring that would help with the disagreement if I could only figure out how to insert myself into the conversation.

What strategies can I as an introvert use when I need to jump into a contentious/agitated situation in a professional setting?

~Jittery in Massachusetts

fear

Dear Jittery,

Oh, my—I could practically feel the jitters with you while I was reading your letter. I’d love to help.

Conflict can kick up our self-preservation instincts such as fight, flight, or freeze. It’s particularly tough in a work situation where we can’t easily run away, and we have our professional reputation at stake. This is a big challenge for anyone.

I’m offering some suggestions here. Be gentle with yourself as you consider trying something new. It will be worth the effort as you notice anxiety going down, over time.

Continue reading