Peer-to-Peer Coworker Relationships




You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family… or co-workers!


How can we have fulfilling, meaningful, appropriate relationships with these people we didn’t select for ourselves?


It can be tricky to navigate the nuances of relationships where the only thing you may have in common is working for the same company.


But here is a list of ways you can tend and foster to those relationships in a healthy way:

  • Check in from time to time on non work-related topics

    How’s your dog? I remember it had surgery last month

    Did you end up growing broccoli in your garden at home? Your tomatoes last year looked delicious

    I saw this mug and thought of you because you love rainbows!


  • Grab coffee one-on-one outside the office

    The way this can affect your interpersonal relationship is huge if you step outside your normal environment and hear about their life, hobbies, interests, passions and background.


  • Make time to call out the good in someone

    Hey I noticed you were so well-prepared for that meeting with all the updated metrics, thanks so much for taking the time to have that on hand.

    You are so good with people, I learn a lot from you every time you lead a meeting


This may be easier for some than others. You may be intrinsically shy or prefer to keep your work/home life separate. But, I think everyone can benefit from a little kindness and intentionality working alongside others especially when you think about how many hours you spend with these people during the week. It can be worth it to look into small tweaks that can help bond you with the people you rub shoulders with everyday.

When Healthy Eating Becomes Unhealthy

 



The term “healthy” can feel so relative. In terms of body image, that word can have so many different meanings even societally. In the 1950’s marketers were trying to help women gain weight to access more curves. By the 1990’s the pendulum swung into the other direction as companies were selling fad diets to help people become “ultra skinny.” Today’s body positivity movement is helping our society becoming increasingly more accepting of health, not assuming it all looks one certain way for everybody, yet it still feels a bit like a vague moving target.


Social media can propagate so much misinformation under the guise of education with influencers touting “flat tummy teas” for weight loss which are ultimately just glorified laxatives that are not helpful in the long term. Ultimately, we know that the formula is tried and true - be active and eat a balanced diet. This correlation between our gut helps even our mental stamina as we are accessing nutrition for fueling ourselves, but not being so rigid that we cut off all desire for comfort foods.


So, if you are someone who is striving to eat healthy, how can we identify if our ambition for being our best selves is actually turning detrimental? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my motivation to eat healthy?

  2. Is my driving force to look a certain way that society has conditioned me to believe is beautiful or is it for the longevity of my life and building helpful habits that are sustainable long-term?

  3. Am I being too restrictive and punishing myself when I eat something that is deemed “bad”?

  4. Do I practice mindful eating and listen to my body when it is full?

  5. When I speak of my body, do I use positive terms or am I consistently critiquing what I do not like about myself?

There is no right or wrong answer above, but things to ponder on as you increase your awareness of your view of health as it pertains to eating. Be kind to your body, it has taken you this far in life.

Family Dynamics: How to Prepare an Only-Child for a Sibling



Picture this…


You have been in a committed relationship with your spouse for about two years now. You enjoy sharing hobbies, talking about your hopes/dreams together, enjoying downtime at home and each other’s undivided attention. One day your husband or wife comes home and says “in nine months, I am going to get another little wife! You two will be best of friends. She will share your room, take all your clothes that are too small for you, be very loud/needy, and will commandeer many of your household items for herself. Aren’t you excited to be a big wife??”

That would most likely be met with a resounding “Um, NO!” followed by “do I get any say in this??”


We can overlook or dismiss the impact of introducing a new member as a dynamic into an already intact family unit. What are some ways we can help prepare only-children for the birth of a new sibling, or the merging of another mbermily meem through a second marriage, or even the adoption of another child? Here are some practical tips to ease them into the transition of their “new normal.”


  1. The Introduction

    Keep it neutral. That means don’t be fishing or trying to lead into the feeling you wish the only-child was having with questions like “aren’t you soooo excited to meet XYZ?” or “how does it feel to be a big brother?”

    Neutrality can also be in physical ways - if it is a new baby being introduced have them in the bassinet when the older child walks into the room, instead of having mom or dad holding them. If the kids are older, have the setting be in a place they don’t feel obligated to sit and talk, but can run outside and play (like an outdoor water fountain or playground)

  2. Allow space for feelings

    It may take time for everyone to come to terms with this dynamic. As the parent or guardian you can say “It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. I want to hear about it all. I am a safe space for you.”

  3. Reassure everyone that you are always a family

    No matter what changes, the one thing that is constant is your love for one another. Love GROWS and doesn’t shrink/divide. You have enough love to go around to everybody!

This can always be more nuanced as other factors such as divorce, substance abuse, or other reasonings for the family merging can be present, so should you need a professional family counselor to assist, please feel free to reach out and book an appointment.


They Like Me, They Really Like Me!


The year was 1985 and Sally Fields was accepting her best actress Oscar when the now iconic phrase came to be - “You like me, you really like me!” Now, after some actual research and digging into the background of that quote, those were not her actual words and that is a paraphrase of what she said. Yet somehow it has become the infamous quote attributed to her. People have said it now for nearly 50 years and I think that is because it holds some sort of universal truth: we as humans have a craving to be liked and acknowledged. We want validation that others approve of us.


There is nothing wrong with this desire and actually it comes initially from survival instances. We come into this world helpless and without the caring nurture of a parent we would not be able to make it. But, as we grow in autonomy and individuation, our desire to be liked still persists. What happens when your desire comes at a cost?


I want to talk about how to identify friendships that no longer serve you - ie. friendships where you’re always the one initiating or calling. If you stop calling do they call you? At what point do you say something and at what point do you call it their loss and move on?


Oftentimes, the reason we continue to hang on to a relationship is because we want the validation it gives us (or used to give us.) But, when we have that underlying motivation it can be difficult to really step back and see “is this good for me?” Is your desire to be liked and given approval outweighing your own dignity and self-confidence? Then, it may be time to release some friendships that


How to release a friendship:

  1. Sometimes, you don’t even have to have a formal conversation about it. You can let it die naturally on its own.

  2. Appreciate the gift that their friendship did bring you for the time you were together. They were there for you for a specific window, and for that, you can be grateful.

  3. If it does warrant a heart-to-heart try to keep the focus on yourself. Your own growth, your own needs, your own boundaries.


I may not be the first to tell you this, but most relationships will be seasonal. Once you can have that mindset that not everyone is meant to journey with you for a lifetime, you can release people from your mind. Gauge if your motivation of holding onto the friendship is for their validation or because it is something that genuinely serves you still.


Sorry, Not Sorry

 


The phrase “sorry, not sorry” became popular a few years ago as a pseudo-apology without any real responsibility taken for whatever action you were attributed the saying with. Zooming out to a greater context we can see that what started off as a cheeky comeback, can show us that the concept really encompasses how our society handles the act of apologizing.

Have you ever had someone say things to you like…

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings…”

“I’m sorry that you took what I said the wrong way…”

“It was not my intention to XYZ…”


While, on the surface, they all may seem like legitimate apologies, they never really take ownership for the fact that they hurt you by either their words or actions.

Can there be a formula for an apology? YES actually! If you find yourself struggling to find the words when you are in the wrong, try following these steps below.


The ABC Apology:

Admit what you did wrong.
This is always the hardest step. Try to rationally and clearly state the action you did (without adding your reasoning or excuses!) that the other person said hurt them.

Believe the best in the other person.
We can tend to make up stories about what the other person may or may not be thinking, what their intentions could possibly be, or even identifying what their motivations are. But, overall, assuming the best in the other person can help mitigate even more potential conflict.

Communicate your plans for the future in a clear way.
“I know that when I did XYZ, it hurt you. I plan to do/not do XYZ in the future.” It can be that cut and dry to close out the conversation. Keep it short and sweet!



Now try to remember that attempting new things can always be clunky at first. So, if you have trouble taking ownership of something that hurt another person, you are not alone! If you need an outside perspective or someone to help you process, consider speaking to a wise friend or a professional therapist - my door is always open.

Critiquing vs. Complaining






How do the different sentences below feel as you read them?


You are always late coming home from work. It is like you don’t even care about all the things I have to do to manage the house.

Vs.

When you come home later than what you originally said, it makes me feel overwhelmed and lonely.


My co-worker is so lazy I have to continually double-check their work before we turn it into our Supervisor because there are so many errors.

Vs.

The projects I am receiving from my coworker continually have errors and need to be fixed. I have set a meeting with them tomorrow to let them know I am tired of having to manage their work too and request that they look closer at their projects before sending them my way.


In both cases, there were legitimate issues that needed to be addressed. But in the first iteration of criticism we can be assumptive of someone else’s character which ultimately leads to the other person beginning with a defensive posture and no real resolution can come from that destructive conversation. While, the second responses are genuine complaints about a person’s behavior using a specific instance without an attack, emotion or judgment.


How can we be aware and pivot from a critique to a complaint?

Focus on the problem, not the person

If you view the other person as the enemy, you’ve already lost. See them as your co-collaborator in finding a solution. Focus on the issue at hand and not on what you may view as their character defaults or flaws.


Take a minute to calm down if needed

If possible, don’t go into a conversation when you are highly emotional or triggered. Take a step back to calm yourself and view the situation rationally. When you are in the “flight, fight, or freeze” mentality it is hard to see things clearly.


Ask simply for what you need

Try using “I” statements as opposed to “You” statements. A simple pivot from “You are selfish when you leave your clothes on the ground” to “I feel overwhelmed by the clutter of the house when your clothes are left on the ground” can immediately lower someone else’s defenses and lay a better foundation for dialogue.


This mindset shift can take time to adjust to, especially if we are already ingrained with critique or have been brought up in a household where criticism was common. Take it one step at a time as you work to modify your wording and calm your emotions when in conflict, you will find that over time it can make a world of differences in your relationships

Got a Case of “June Gloom”?







There is a phenomenon that happens in California every year around the month of June where a unique marine layer weather pattern causes cloudy, overcast and cool skies instead of what is normally blue, sunny and warm. 

The term for this occurrence is “June Gloom” and it sounds exactly as it sounds. It’s no secret that science has found there is a strong connection that certain weather can have on our attitudes. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons...sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” This can cause us to want to withdraw and isolate ourselves from the outside world as we feel depressed and apathetic. So what do we do about this instance where we feel down?


There are simple pick-me-up things that have proven to help liven your spirits, but first I want to mention that it is OK to be sad sometimes. The goal isn’t happiness always - often there is a lot of good that can come out of resting your body, taking time for self-care and introspection. Our Western culture often requires us to be busy and “go go go!” all the time, but that may run us down faster than ever. Before you try to work yourself out of the rut, try to listen to your body and see what it might be telling you.


Simple ways to combat “June Gloom”:



Rest!

Go with the flow of being tired and wanting to take it easy. Enjoy a night to yourself to do something you enjoy.


Go for a walk

Exercise can release endorphins which are the brain chemicals that help you relieve stress and pain. Being outside can help you process your feelings as your thoughts work in tandem with your movement and steps. Lace up your sneakers and try going around the block to see if you come back feeling a little better.



Find a simple way to treat yourself

Bubble baths, hiring a maid to do the deep cleaning you hate, or eating an ice cream cone with sprinkles are easy ways you can indulge, soothe, and begin to alleviate your sadness.



Talk with a therapist

There are professionals out there who are able to help you sort through what you’re feeling and what could be the underlying root causes. No one can come through life without some type of scars and you are not “broken” just because you seek outside help.



These feelings can come whether it is the month of June or not. So whether you are feeling a general “blue-ness” or it is a case of the Monday’s where you feel down for no apparent reason, be sure to be gentle with yourself. Remember that this feeling will not last forever and you will come out on the other side to feel better. Hold on to the notion that nothing is permanent and there is hope for a better future.