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Post No.: 0687authentic


Furrywisepuppy says:


Tough fuzzy patches will inevitably arise at work, like when an unexpected (in timing) pandemic scuppers all plans. But conscientious people will fail less because they work hard. Conscientiousness and grit/determination are correlated.


However, whenever conscientious people do fail, the negative impact on their well-being is greater because they beat themselves up over things more. So it’s double-edged – the tendency to beat yourself up drives you to work hard and improve, but you might constantly feel inadequate no matter what you achieve.


Meanwhile, resilience involves being able to face obstacles and failures with grace and kind-heartedness, and being able to adapt and pick oneself up from a fall, again, and again, and again. This doesn’t mean one should acquiesce in the face of bullying, harassment, unreasonable demands, exploitation or other ill treatment – resilience helps us to handle these things but that doesn’t mean we should accept them rather than seek to change them. So cultivating resilience is vital.


It helps to be optimistic, problem-solving or solution-oriented, and to be connected to those who’ll empower you rather than try to put you down. Our resilience is influenced by our genetics, our past experiences (such as coming from a trusting and secure early family environment or alternatively a history of trauma or poverty), our level of education (which we can control), our daily mental thoughts and habits (which we can train), and our present supportive resources like friends, family and finances.


Resources are critical. Even torn muscles repair or bounce back faster than torn ligaments because the latter receives less access to necessary resources – nutrients carried via a decent blood flow to the area in this case. Those who have/had knee cartilage injuries understand the problem even more acutely. Wealthier neighbourhoods recover faster from natural disasters than more impoverished neighbourhoods. Just knowing that someone who’s dependable is physically nearby and is there for you can be enough to benefit your mental health, even if they aren’t currently doing anything else for you. Not everybody has someone like that, like some elderly people who live alone.


Your resilience in the workplace can be improved by bringing your best self to work, showing yourself self-compassion and not being a perfectionist. Have a growth mindset, which means seeing challenges as things that can be overcome with learning and practice rather than as things that you are either born to be able to do or not.


Be optimistic – one possible way to foster this attitude is to attribute positive events to personal reasons while attributing negative events to external, temporary and situation-specific reasons. This is indeed a bias, but a healthy bias as long as it never ventures into overconfidence or delusion, and doesn’t create rifts in your relationships due to blaming others for faults or lead to a lack of self-improvement for believing that one is perfect and always blameless. (Healthiness is always a balancing act between extremes.) View anything where failure is a possibility as a challenge, and imagine yourself doing well and things going well.


Be authentic by not pretending to be someone you’re not because this is inherently exhausting, such as when suppressing your own personal values to go along with those thrusted by the organisation or when keeping hidden your personal experiences of inequity and workplace harassment, in order to pretend to fit in, to not upset the applecart or to not harm your own employment status. Being authentic shouldn’t be an excuse to be cruel towards others though just because the real you is a jerk(!)


Show your authentic, honest emotions rather than pretend being cheerful all of the time when you don’t truly feel that way inside. Such surface acting is common when working in the service or entertainment industries, thus hiding our authentic selves is almost a part of some jobs. Granted that it might not be professional to show too much emotion in front of distressed patients in healthcare settings, for example, but it won’t be that most healthcare workers aren’t feeling it inside themselves even if they’re not externally showing it, and this emotional suppression can very quickly lead to burnout if they don’t receive enough regular breaks or care for themselves. Your authentic self is the way you are when you’re around those you are closest to and trust. Customers trust authentic companies more too.


And totally switch off from work after work hours, take vacations and make sure you dedicate sufficient time and energy to enjoying yourself outside of work. Pastimes that involve hobbies where you experience mastery, like baking, sport, art or practising a musical instrument, will make you feel more proactive and capable the following morning at work.


Most workers suffer from ‘impostor syndrome’ or self-doubt from time to time. Many of us have internalised the idea that excellence comes from being self-critical. While this can push us forwards a bit and we need to reflect on any mistakes we make – self-compassion is more sustainable for promoting personal growth because constantly beating ourselves up makes us want to avoid taking any more chances in the future in case we fail and look bad again and so have to beat ourselves up again. Sometimes we’ll speak up for a friend who’s being mistreated but not speak up for ourselves. So treat yourself as you’d care and support a good friend who’s going through a difficult time. Woof.


‘Self-distancing’ – or assessing emotionally challenging experiences or interpersonal conflicts from a ‘fly on the wall’ or third-person perspective – might help us to take a step back and make sense of these things from a relatively more objective rather than self-immersed way. An alternative option could be to disengage from emotionally challenging debates altogether to keep our blood pressure down – but this prevents us from understanding other points of view. So instead of distancing ourselves from a perceived adversary, we could get some cognitive distance from our own impulsive selves. There’s a reason why we’re sometimes better at giving more rational advice to our friends than to ourselves – our distance from the problem, and thus calmer emotional state, allows us to reason things through in a way that’s more difficult when something’s personal. From an immersed first-person perspective of an emotional event, we may fall into a ‘fight or flight’ state, and this will further lead us into a tunnel-visioned view of seeing things only from our own point of view, where empathy becomes more difficult. So a more detached self-distanced view allows us to consider the bigger picture, dialectical thinking and alternative viewpoints. It can help us to recognise the limits of our own understanding.


So, for instance, instead of thinking ‘I’m furious at x’ or ‘x hurt my feelings’ – we might ask broader questions like ‘how did these two people (as in you and x) get to this point?’ or ‘will this incident even matter in a week’s, or two year’s, time?’ Avoid using the pronoun ‘I’ in this process – focus on third-person pronouns like ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ or your own name when engaging in this self-talk. It might also help to imagine what a role model would’ve thought about and done in that situation? We can then make better sense of our reactions and the reactions of whom we’ve been arguing with, and feel less emotional distress. And we can feel less reactive when remembering the same difficult event over time.


The principle that self-distancing teaches us might explain why we’re more likely to admire the vulnerabilities, honesties and apologies that others express yet we’re more reticent about expressing our own vulnerabilities to others in case it’ll show weakness rather than courage.


Self-distancing isn’t instinctive when you’re facing an anxious situation but if you can adopt the technique then it’ll help you to feel less anxious. If you can pause and give yourself some breathing room by reframing the situation with some self-distancing, you’ll be able to calm down faster and respond in more thoughtful, appropriately proportional and less regrettable ways.


Frequently, when we feel annoyed at others, we’re just in a bad mood and being unreasonable. We’re often hypocritical about what we complain about in other people too. For example, when we’re in a hurry, it’s other people’s fault for walking too slow and for rudely getting in our way – we expect other people to mind-read our intentions. But we’re otherwise usually strolling along at an unrushed pace too, occasionally getting in other people’s way because we cannot mind-read that they’re in a hurry – yet it’s still other people’s fault for rudely bumping into us when they’re in a rush(!) So whatever happens, it’s always other people’s fault whether ‘people are too slow if we bump into them when we’re in a rush’ or ‘people run into us when we didn’t know they were coming and were in a rush’. We therefore routinely commit hypocrisies – if only we would take a step back to observe a less biased and more objective, authentic appraisal of ourselves and of situations.


When we’re stuck in our own heads (or up another part of our own anatomies!), we tend to express righteous indignation. When we’re more reasonable, we tend to be calmer. Post No.: 0683 talked about how to better handle disagreements at work – a major source of anxieties and exasperations in workplaces.


Woof! At an organisational level, agile and adaptable organisations are more resilient in the face of unexpected crises. This involves having a mindful awareness of the inner and outer workings of one’s organisation, being aware of its strengths and weaknesses, and addressing those weaknesses. An organisation can support the authentic expression and resilience of its workers by ensuring that everyone feels safe and supported when they’re being their authentic selves. See if flexible work schedules can work? Support parents. Ensure that everyone has real time off to completely detach from work, and real (outdoors) vacations. Taking regular short breaks during each working day – preferably to take a mindful walk amongst nature or similar – will rejuvenate your concentration. We know that pacing and spacing your learning allows what you’ve learnt to sink more successfully into the brain for the long term compared to cramming.


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