I recently attended a webinar which advertised that the speaker is an expert in dealing with workplace toxicity. I was so looking forward to the webinar to listen to the speaker’s perspectives and research. I was all ears and ready to take notes. The webinar started with an introduction from the host and then the speaker. An anecdotal example was used by the speaker to elaborate on the circumstances of how workplace toxicity can take place. The focus of the story was how communication could create opportunities for toxicity in the workplace to happen.
Next, the speaker shared a qualitative study conducted with her clients about their experience of toxicity in the workplace. There was also a slide on how the various parts of the brain will light up when someone has experienced toxicity in the workplace. If you are still reading and feeling a bit confused, well, this was how I felt on the webinar. I frantically wrote some questions and sent them to the host. I waited patiently for the speaker to answer. One of my questions was asked but not answered. I must confess that some of my questions might not be questions per se; rather, they were observations about what the speaker had said. I needed the speaker to clarify what was said and shared. I reckoned that some of my questions were unanswered because there was not enough time?
I went back to look at the webinar description for the session and the speaker’s profile and think to myself that I might have registered for a wrong webinar. The speaker was supposed to have done years of research in this area, but all I heard were anecdotal evidence. There were questions I wanted answers to such as, “How can communication cause workplace toxicity?”, “What is the relationship between workplace toxicity and brain activity?”
Sadly, the webinar, to me, did not satisfy my expectations. Perhaps I need to lower my expectations when I sign up for any other webinar. However, one question remains – “Is it right to call yourself an expert when what you shared did not demonstrate any expertise at all?”
It is very human of us to feel worried and be fearful because often we are caught up with ruminating the past and catastrophizing the future. When we are in such a state, we tend to lose ourselves in the present. Being caught up with our thoughts and emotions can result in us losing all sense of self-awareness.
When we do not recognise how our behaviours are impacting us, we will be stuck in a rut, mulling over things over and over again. Such impact can result in us becoming depressed and frustrated. What should we do then? Take a step back, breathe and create a psychological distance from the thoughts or emotions, that is to do perspective-taking. In doing so, we allow ourselves to see the reasons why we think and feel a certain way, thus providing CLARITY. Next, we will need to notice how these thoughts or emotions can affect us. In doing so, we can decide as to whether we want to carry on allowing these thoughts and feelings control how we behave.
Learning To Accept
It is awful to feel defeated or not being able to take control of our lives. The society imposes a standard, and we adhere religiously to it, believing that FAILURE is not an option. So we will create automatic defence mechanisms such as being positive, trying hard to find out what went wrong or simply not facing the failure. These defence mechanisms have their shortcomings. For example, when we are always positive when dealing with failures, we can become too cavalier and ignore the real causes of our failures. On the other hand, when we spend too much time fretting over details about how and why we fail, we only stop ourselves from moving forward. Similarly, when we run away and not face what is before us, it will catch up with us. What can we do then? Accept that failure is normal; all of us fail at one point in our lives. What matters is how we move forward from our failures.
Now that we are aware how our thoughts and emotions can get in the way we function and accept that sometimes we do not have any control about the situation we are in, we need to put into action what to do next. We need to think about what are the important things in our lives. We need to have an action plan to help us move towards those important things and be mindful of potential hurdles that can waylay the plan. Remember, this is a process and not a straight point A to point B journey. We need to be agile and adaptable should change to the action plan is required.
Just as it takes determination and tenacity to keep ourselves physically fit, it is not that dissimilar when it comes to our psychological health. The more we practice, the better we will become; similarly, when we become lax, we become unfit psychologically.
Reading news and articles about what is happening in the world, basing on the number of deaths and infection from COVID-19, there is no doubt that all countries are doing their best to slow down the spreading of the virus.
Most of us are very lucky to have a roof over our heads that we can isolate ourselves. Yes, we have to change our lifestyle to accommodate what we are all experiencing. Some lament about this new norm and flagrantly flout restriction measures in the name of freedom. We see how some celebrities are having meltdowns or behaving foolishly, trapped in their comfortable mansions while others are using their platform to encourage people to think about the needy.
I am grateful that the country that I live in has relatively low numbers of infections as compared to some other countries. While it is very easy to be caught up with news about which country is doing well and which country ought to have done better, the press often leaves out certain countries that are suffering worst than most but get little mention in the media. An essay written by Arundhati Roy in the Financial Times depicts how COVID-19 has impacted and is continuing to impact India.
Most of us have a choice, some don’t. Those who are immunosuppressed, vulnerable and sick at this present moment, do not have a choice. Should we not be grateful that we are still able to have the option to stay at home? Should we not be grateful to have a choice to be connected to the internet and be able to choose how we can be entertained, to learn, communicate and gain access to information. Perhaps next time when we feel that this whole isolation is getting too much for us, pause and think, what can we be grateful for?
The world today is very different from what it was last year. It is inevitable to be bombarded by news about the impact of COVID-19 outbreak. Most of us are taking this opportunity to get used to this new way of working. They are some who are using this unprecedented situation to sell their services; some are offering free webinars and then we have politicians still squabbling about who should take the blame.
From news avenue, we can see most people will abide by whatever measures their countries have imposed to curb the spreading of the COVID-19 virus but similarly we are also seeing others who are blatantly flouting the imposed measures. Why do people do that? People want to feel social and be part of a group even in this time where the spreading of the COVID-19 virus is so rampant. To some, preventing them to socialize is infringing their freedom.
We all have a part to play during this unprecedented time. Many people are struggling through this new environment. Many have also lost their lives as they succumbed to this disease. We might all be experiencing this whole outbreak differently, but one similar thing is we are all fearful. Our fears stem from not knowing enough about this disease, especially when there is still so much the experts are trying to figure out about the disease, and a vaccine is still not in sight. While most of us cannot do much about this disease, we can work collectively to reduce the spike in the spreading of the disease. Be responsible and think about how our actions can impact others.
What can we do? We need to look at changing our habits. Adapt to the changes. Start to use different ways to communicate. Why not use this time to reconnect with friends, spend more time with your loved ones (keeping social distancing wherever required) and also take time to reflect and recharge. Keeping yourself psychologically and physically fit will be essential. Choose whatever works for you.
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