Where Synchronicity & Magic Happen by Peter Metzner


Where Synchronicity & Magic Happen 

By Peter Metzner

I once heard at a Symposium that:  “Genius is focused passion” .

To grow, to develop and become the best at your “art”  is a meaningful calling.  Joseph Campbell writes:  “Art is the making of things well.  The aim of Art is the perfection of the object”. “If you follow your bliss, you will always have your bliss money or not. If you follow money you may lose it and you will have nothing”  (J. Campbell Reflections on the Art of Living” p. 39)

Ideally, to successfully innovate; we need to feel passionate about and love what we do. We also need to feel our work – our “art” is beneficial to others.    That is the rocket fuel that can propel us to new heights.

What keeps teams or people from performing optimally?

Sadly only 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup.  For many work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in may ways, it’s getting worse.  Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. “Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night”.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.)

To maintain engagement it is important to have enough rest and renewal. Over work, stress and a lack of capacity leads to burnout.  Interpersonal conflict, unaware leadership and not feeling valued or appreciated add to the malaise that causes disengagement, lack of commitment and turnover.

When people and teams feel connected to a shared vision and mission that is inspiring and larger than themselves,  positive energy and appropriate actions result.    When relationships are trusting and safe enough to give and receive feedback and engage in constructive conflict;  everyone becomes “smarter” than anyone one.  Kurt Lewin –  PhD,  a Harvard psychologist found that “When we are  in a supportive environment we are better equipped to deal with the complexities of our working lives”

As times change, technology advances, new applications and opportunities will emerge. Yet, we need to always keep the timeless qualities that make us “successful” and feel fulfilled. Excitement, energy,  common purpose and dedication  come from feeling, that we are doing what we do best and are challenged to better in the service of “something” larger and beneficial to others.

“When completely caught up in something, you become oblivious to the things around you, or to the passage of time.  It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imaginations”.   Rollo May, The Courage to Create

This is the place where synchronicity and “magic”  happens.

 

 

 

 

 

“The Privilege of a Life Time” by Peter Metzner


The privilege of a lifetime is being
who you are.
The goal of the hero trip
down to your jewel point
is to find those levels in the psyche
That open, open, open,
and finally open to the mystery
of your self
being Buddha consciousness,
the Christ.

That’s the journey
(Joseph Campbell) Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion

“Find a place where there is joy and the joy will burn out the pain” .

According to Campbell, Satan is the epitome of the intractable ego. That part of ourselves needing to be right, to defend ourselves, feeling separate, better than or not as good as others depending on our beliefs, dogma and life’s situations. Hell is the concretization of your life experiences, a place where you’re stuck, the wasteland. In hell, we blame others for our condition and are so bound to ourselves that grace cannot enter. What is hellish is being stuck without hope, without relief.*

How we mature, depends on taking responsibility for our choices, no longer blaming others, or expecting rescue from them. And to acknowledge the pain of loneliness however much we are invested in social roles and relationships. (James Hollis) Swamplands of The Soul. The mature person i.e. one who is psychologically free : “is confident in his inner world, responsible for his strengths and weaknesses, consciously able to love himself, and thus, able to love others”…. Marion Woodman

In a simple and poignant description of the human condition, and of growth; Jolande Jacobi, a Jungian analyst writes: “Like a seed growing into a tree, life unfolds stage by stage. Triumphant ascent, collapse, crises, failures, and new beginnings strew the way. It is the path trodden by the great majority of people, as a rule unreflectingly, unconsciously, unsuspectingly, following its labyrinthine windings from birth to death in hope and longing. It is hedged about with struggle and suffering, joy and sorrow, guilt and error, and nowhere is there security from catastrophe. For as soon as a man tries to escape every risk and prefers to experience life only in his head, in the form of ideas and fantasies, as soon as he surrenders to opinions of ‘how it ought to be’ and, in order not to make a false step, imitates others when possible, he forfeits the chance of his own independent development. Only if he treads the path bravely and flings himself into life, fearing no struggle and no exertion and fighting shy of no experience, will he mature his personality more fully than the man who is ever trying to keep to the safe side of the road.”
J. Jacobe, The Way of Individuation

There are two gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard… I can’t do it.

Lethargy: – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy they are not out there they are inside
Carl Jung wrote: The spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.
If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated”

Our task is to recover our personal authority and discern the meaning of our lives.
Who are we to stand in its way?

Stepping Into Your Vision by Peter Metzner


“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens.  I’ve knocked from the inside.” — Rumi

All of our trouble flows from being separated from our instincts.  C.G. Jung

Freud stated that “The price of civilization is neurosis”.   Neurosis meaning being someone you are not,  being split from your natural truth and being defined by an external definition of who you are.   Living a life that is authentically yours;  means being connected to your passion,  using and developing your gifts and natural abilities  in ways that are meaningful, useful and satisfying.   This is what vocational  integration is.    To get to this place requires some reflection and being  ‘real”  with your self.    Asking the larger and important questions can greatly help this process.

Below are powerful questions from James Hollis, PhD   that can help ease access to deeper insights.   Asking the “right”  questions;  stimulates our thinking  to seek to find answers.   We need   to ask and  be open and receptive to the messages we get.  Having solitude and quiet  allows us to hear and discern the answers that come.     Each may take some time so you may want to choose the one or ones that  resonate the most with you at this time.   

The Questions:

  • How do you know what is true for you?   How did you lose your personal authority in the first place?   Did you lose it through adapting  to circumstances?
  • What core ideas – are the defining ideas of my life?
  • What has brought you to this point in your life?  Fate?  Family influences?
  • What parts of history have framed your world?  Are there repeating patterns that make us prisoners of our history?
  • Which pieces or parts of your life are working  for you?
  • What constricts you?
  • What messages did you internalize?  i.e.  We are here to make money;  I have to be perfect,  successful;  have children and make them successful…
  • Why does so much feel like a script that has been written for you?
  • Am I choosing  security over truth?
  • Am I doing  what my peers do?
  • Do I change and grow and how?
  • Why is so much a disappointment?
  • Why do I hide so much from others?
  • What gets pushed underground in my unconscious?
  • Where do I experience the transcendent?

According to Jung, the highest calling is an appointment with our “self”.  We have an appointment with ourselves and not all of us keep it.     We need to mindful and discern where spirit is working in all areas of our lives. If the life we have lived has been too small and it may be too small for most of us;   the task of recovering ourselves is opening to largeness of our journey.

There are two  gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard…  I can’t  do it.

 Lethargy:  – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy, they are not out there they are inside.  We awaken only to fall back into the  comfort of our past life.

Jung also wrote:  ” The Spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.

If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.”

We all have a task and it is;  the recovery of personal authority and discerning the meaning of our lives.  Who are we to stand in its way?  We are responsible for finding meaning in our lives.

We can look at symptoms like depression, anxiety, addictions and compulsions as ruptures in our false self.   James Hollis also writes this is the psyche or our “self” trying to break out of the confines of the acquired or false self.    So welcome a symptom.  The psyche which has been captive may have a different agenda than the one our ego or acquired identity is following.    Symptoms may be the psyche no longer able to cooperate in going along the path we are taking.  Similar to the reins of a horse correcting us when we stray.

Jung believed  that every patient knew at some all level what they needed to do.   We all need to become our own psychotherapists
and heal the bridge and split from our natural truth.   The self knows you have always known.   This is the knowledge of the head in service to the knowledge of the heart which gives insight and the courage to live our lives.

If you knew what you are truly capable of, would you move forward into your life with tremendous enthusiasm and very little self-doubt?
Find  your voice and a place in your life where your brilliance  can shine through.  There is  something we all can do to bring us a sense of satisfaction and meaning.   Find  what you love the most in life.  Search inside for that deep passion or restlessness, and allow  yourself  the quiet and peace to give it full expression.
There is genius in every one of us, as a natural part of our birthright.  Let it come out.  The German Poet Rilke wrote: “Our task is to be defeated by ever larger things” .
References and suggested reading:
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally Really Grow up James Hollis PH.D, Gotham books New York, NY 2006
Why Good People Do Bad Things:  Understanding our Darker Selves.  James Hollis PH.D Gotham books New York, NY 2007
Memories Dreams , Reflections.  Carl Gustav Jung  Random House, Inc. 1963
 

 

Overcoming Addictions and Compulsions: “Finding Your Self” by Peter Metzner


If something out side of your self is the reason you are happy;  you are hostage to it.  Ekhard  Tolle

In over 15 years in being in the field of Human Development, I have seen no correlation with having a lot of material things and “happiness”.   Money is important and ranks along  with oxygen to live.   Yet, when there is enough oxygen to breathe  it doesn’t register in our awareness of needs.

Neuroscience has found that money or accumulating money stimulates the pleasure centers of our brains.      If we are happy, have supportive relationships and are living meaningfully and with purpose,  material comforts can  enhance our sense of well-being.   However,  if we are unhappy,  we are  like hungry ghosts.   Searching and driven yet never satisfied.  Riches, material comfort, distractions etc.  can’t make us happy if we are anxious, driven, unhappy or suffering from low self-esteem or lack of meaning.   If materialistic ambition becomes a substitute for our intrinsic needs for giving and receiving love and doing work that is “right” for us, we can become addicted in the pursuit of diversions, pleasure, accumulating “things” , titles, accomplishments, etc.

Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, PhD  explains, “dopamine levels increase as soon as we start anticipating a reward. Once the dopamine starts flowing, monkeys and people will work and work and work expecting  a treat.  For monkeys,  a grape is usually enough.   For people, the treats include:  a pair of sneakers, a shiny car, an MBA that might lead to a high-paying job, early retirement, a couple of minutes of entertaining diversion, a few seconds of sexual gratification, etc…    Monkeys and people’s neurochemistry  function virtually the same!    The main difference: “Monkeys don’t get hooked on beliefs, ideologies, dogma, degrees, titles, fantasies, lies, empty promises, or self-deceptions” .

What is known about addictions:

  • Any behavior that can deliver a dopamine reward can become an addiction.
  • The more powerful the addiction, the greater the denial, the weaker the free will, the more likely addicts are to detest any information that threatens to keep them from feeding their addictions.
  • It’s possible to get addicted to safety, peer approval, and esteem.   (The dopamine project)

Using brain scanning equipment, researchers have found that there is basically one addiction—dopamine addiction. When heroin addicts shoot up, the street drug tells their brains to produce dopamine. Heroin is a trigger.  Dopamine flow creates the sensation of being ‘high.’ When it comes to scoring dopamine rewards, there are many triggers. For some the trigger is cocaine. For others it’s nicotine, alcohol, sex, gambling, or food.  Street drugs are physical dopamine triggers that are hard to deny because they need the ingesting, inhaling, or injecting of addictive substances.  Sadly, physical dopamine addictions destroy lives and wreak societal damage.  Researchers have recently added video games and texting to the list. Yet the most dangerous dopamine triggers include easy to deny psychological addictions. Psychological dopamine addictions may be more insidious because addictive emotions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, ideologies, rhetoric, and deceptions also trigger release of  dopamine.

An addiction is anything you can’t stop doing and it serves as an anxiety management system.  Along with addictions come formidable psychological defenses.  They include self-deception, denial, and a lack of morality that can even lead to a capacity for murder.   Reason, integrity, morality and a distaste for lying, cheating, stealing, and killing  that non-addicts value are often no match to addicts of:   power, money, fame, substances etc.   We see  in history and current events “examples of unstoppable, unreasonable, inhumane, addict/killers attacking, vilifying, and eliminating reasoning, humane, non-addict/non-killers” (The Dopamine Project)

Addicts have an amazing capacity to dismiss and deny facts, truth, and reason.   “Dopamine flow fuels addictions: More dopamine = yes, like, do more while dopamine withdrawal = stop, hate, avoid. “Thinking”   justifies, rationalizes, and defends  dopamine-influenced decisions”. (The Dopamine Project)  In other words,  intelligence  in the service of  addiction.

One of the most addictive abstractions is money.  Someone  addicted to alcohol or drugs, increasingly organizes their life  around the use and abuse of their substance(s) of choice.  The person who uses money to mood alter can have their relationship with money spin out of control; by being overly focused on accumulating it, spending it, hoarding it or using it to control people, places and things. For example,  as with a drug or alcohol, tolerance increases and a person  may find him/ herself needing to devote increasingly larger amounts of time to these activities, to get the same mood altering high that only a little once provided.  They become increasingly preoccupied with all things related to getting and maintaining their “substance”  excluding  other areas of living.  Gradually, just like any addict, money and the relationship with money becomes a primary preoccupation.   (Tian Dayton, PhD)    Personal drives and identity become so wrapped up around money  that they lose sight of who “they really are” .

No matter how much they have, money addicts crave more.    As with all addictions, the first pleasure is soon replaced by cravings and withdrawal.  Acquiring more money only increases stress levels which keep money addicts craving more money while worrying about losing what they already have.  Money is highly addictive because it quickly and easily converts into other dopamine triggers that feed other addictions like drugs, foods, sex, gambling, approval, status, and power.  The corrupting influences of money addiction everywhere and at every level of society.

So what does this have to do with Finding your “Self”. 

“Since our capacity for Self deception is truly monumental”  (Yorum Kaufam ) Self Awareness and  Self Mastery entails being aware:  of who we really are, what truly matters, the emotions that drive our behaviors, being able to “regulate or manage them,  knowing our passions, our talents, owning our weaknesses and:   what our “Self”,  Psyche or Soul are asking of us.  This is an awareness of what we truly value and a growing understanding  of our place in the world and connection to the transcendent.  To get there,  we need to recognize the mine fields, the seductions and powerful conditioning  of society that  pulls us to these  baser levels of living, wanting  and consuming.  Freud wrote that “The price of civilization is neurosis” – neuroses defined as  ” being someone who you are not”.

Rather than conform mindlessly or automatically to the expectations of  society,  we can  listen to that small voice. If we are quiet and still enough, summoning the will to live a life that is authentically ours.   “When we allow our light to shine we give permission for others lights to shine” ( Marian Williamson)    The great change agents throughout history, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, etc.  all answered their summons to raise human consciousness, be in relationship to the transcendent,  live mindfully, ethically and see all of humanity as family.

It is OK  to not fully know our  selves or our true North.   The beginning of wisdom is to realize what you don’t know.  To get there requires openness, receptivity and  mindfulness.    I was forty before shifting into my role of teaching, coaching & training.   By  seeking to stay true to yourself, your values and what energizes you is the compass that helps in finding your way.

The Greek god Aesculapius decreed “that it  is through suffering we come to wisdom” .   Avoidance of suffering can lead to and fuel addictions, compulsions and flights from reality.  (James Hollis) Suffering can also give us empathy, understanding and insights which can help others work through their pain.  Being fully human is to experience the full range of emotions.  Being aware and   experiencing   “all”  emotions enables us to live more fully,  better exercise  free will,  intentionality and grow into the person we are meant  to be.

 “There is hope for the world if enough people do their inner work“. C. G. Jung

References and suggested readings:

The Dopamine Project – Better Living Through Dopamine Awareness : see  http://dopamineproject.org/

Swamplands Of  The Soul – New Life in Dismal Places, James Hollis inner City Books  1996

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should do the Opposite.  David Disalvo Prometheus Books  2011.

Waking Up From the Trance by Peter Metzner


We are bombarded daily with messages from advertisers, the media, shows, movies, the news,  our families, work, friends, school, churches and  politicians to name a few.  Neuroscience has found that our brain is more active when we are asleep then when we are watching TV.  (Unless we are very selective about what we watch.)   Without being aware, we internalize these messages  thrust-ed upon us every day.   Advertisers use sophisticated classical conditioning techniques to make us mindlessly want things we  don’t need.  As a society, we have been conditioned to be materialistic and view success as having lots of money and “things”.     We see images of what the ideal woman should be, what success looks like, what we should drive and how we should think.    Based on our selection of news programs, our political affiliation or religious orientation as well as our self image,   we automatically seek out information that confirms and conforms to our beliefs.

In his ground breaking book ” What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why you Should do The Opposite, David Desolvo writes:  ” The brain doesn’t merely prefer certainty over ambiguity – it craves it!”  Our need to be right is actually a need to feel right!’   Neurologist Robert Burton calls this a certainty bias which skews our thinking.    Since our brains crave certainty,  we become anxious or threatened  if our world view, religious or political beliefs are challenged.  Even despite compelling evidence to the contrary.  (Disalvo)  Thus differing view points, cultures, religions and ways of living are threatening to many.   Think about it;  if my way of thinking or believing  is right, good and the only way – your way must be wrong.  So if I am good then you must be bad or evil and I should fight evil.. Right?  Or?…

It is easy to see how  religion can be a source of conflict rather than a force  towards healing .  It not that any particular religion is the problem.  It is simply our brains!      Kenneth Wilber, one of the great current thinkers of our time states moral development falls into three distinct stages.  It is all about me (egocentric)  to it is all about us (ethnocentric)  to it is about all of us. (world centric)  This parallels  Kohlberg’s three levels of moral development.  pre conventional to conventional to post conventional.    According to Wilber, 70% of the world population is ethnocentric.  Which means I see and accept the world through the lenses of my tribe, culture, religion,  country, political belief etc.

With  ethno centric populations being  70%  and numerous countries  owning weapons of mass destruction, controlling vast amounts of the worlds resources,  consuming  significant amounts of these limited resources, and polluting significant amounts –  it doesn’t take an Einstein to see the trouble we are headed towards!

In order for there to be peace, sustainability and a shared common humanity;  a critical mass of  people need to reach the third stage of moral development.  (Its about all of us ) Carl Jung was asked if there was hope for the world  and his answer:   “There is – if enough people do their inner work”.    It is up to each of us individually to wake up from the collective trance and realize that there is only one human race and we are all a part of it.  As Desmund Tutu says-  ‘We are all family”.    Jung and depth psychologists realized that on a soul level we are all connected.   This supports Jesus’ teaching that what you do to the least of us you do to the rest of us.   Einstein reasoned that that this feeling separate from each other is an illusion.   From an energy standpoint as well  – we are all connected.

Jung believed that Neurosis is being or having to be someone you are not.  This is the imprisonment of  having to conform to external definitions of who or what you should be.   Shakespeare wrote the “most confining prisons are the ones that we don’t know that we are in”.  Psychological health and emotional well being is to  live authentically. This is “to see with your own own eyes and to feel with your own heart”  (Einstein)

To “wake up” and develop awareness and mastery, is to  step outside of your emotional field”.  (Daniel Starr)   To do this;  is to over-ride our conditioning.    Awareness is the foundation for growth, healing and taking responsibility for our lives.  With awareness we have choices.  The cost of staying unaware is to  be on automatic pilot and living a life that is not authentically and genuinely ours.   When we stay stuck with self limiting beliefs like we are not good enough, deserving,  we can’t make a difference etc..,  the names, the places, the people may change in our lives, but we repeat patterns with similar outcomes.  As we become more aware, we have more choices  and can live more intentionally and creatively.

So how does one  wake up from a conditioned, neurotic life?

According to Starr and the wisdom traditions,  the first step is to become an observer, or witness, to daily moment-to-moment experiences.  Once we can observe an emotion or a belief and not identify with it we are less likely to be managed or driven by it.   This is an important step towards self mastery.  Awareness helps us  learn to manage or regulate emotions rather than be driven by them.

It is important to observe without making judgment.  Self judgement and being self critical entrap you in your emotional soup. Self-awareness enhances self mastery by letting us see or witness our repetitive patterns.  This allows us to intentionally choose  our direction and experience .    Self-mastery helps us be more  effective in our work or vocation as well as other areas of our lives.

Emotions are states of mind, and we are always experiencing some state of mind, so we are always feeling an  emotion – whether we are conscious of it or not.   There is a relationship between thoughts and emotions.   With each thought, there is an emotional trigger or an emotional association. We think about something,  then comes an emotional association, and this, sparks another thought with its emotional “baggage”.   The process continues as the emotions resonate or fuel each other and increase in intensity.  We have all experienced being upset or angry about something (or someone) and by continually thinking of the situation, we become increasingly agitated.  This  called “awfulizing”.  We can awfulize or “catastrophize” about anything:  fellow workers, managers, clients, policy, finances, relationships, family, self-esteem, and so on.   The patterns are very similar.  Being aware of this,  makes it is fairly simple to master.

The most important part of self-mastery is awareness, (Starr)  so when you start to notice the awfulizing, reward yourself for experiencing this.  You are then associating a positive emotion with the act of becoming aware.  This is a lot more beneficial then getting upset about awfulizing again.

When  we experience negative emotions,  it is usually because we are experiencing something in our environment or our mind that is not in harmony with what we want.   Think about this being an opportunity to discover what we do want.   The starting point is first  knowing what we do not want.  The steps are simple:

1)      Reward yourself for becoming aware of your awfulizing, or negative emotional state.

2)      Notice what it is that you do not want, and ask yourself “If that is what I don’t want, then what is it that I do want?”

3)      Consider what you want and imagine, feel, experience what it would be like to have what you do want.

This third step is very important, for you are now choosing an emotional state, and developing self-mastery.  (Again, which is better, being in a negative state, or choosing a positive one?)  With this exercise we “shift”, from conditioned patterns to more  effective and productive emotional states which allows us to better handle stressors and frustrations.

Making this shift, requires waking up to what is happening to you in the present, and by choice or intention, consciously turning your attention from what you do not want to what you do want.   Wherever you put your awareness, that will expand.  According to William James considered by many the father of psychology – we become what we think about.  Neuroscience has shown that by thinking regularly of the virtues and strengths we want to adopt – that our brains actually start to rewire synapses which helps us embody these qualities.

Happiness is a by – product of  having purpose, meaning, healthy supportive relationships and feeling like we are making a difference.   Psychological maturity comes from knowing who we are, being responsible for our behaviors knowing our strengths and weaknesses accepting and loving ourselves thus being able to accept and love others. (Marian Williamson)   Affluence in the fullest sense is knowing what matters, going for what is truly important and meaningful and feeling or having a sense of being connected to something larger than ourselves.  We each have a summons to living our own lives and to wake up from the trance.

The world needs you.

Suggested readings:

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do The Opposite,  David Disalvo 

The Essential  Ken Wilber; An Introductory Reader 

The Middle Passage From Misery to Meaning in Midlife;  James Hollis

The Profile of a Killer: Stress By Peter Metzner


In our last posting we talked about how each personality “type”  typically responds to it stress, and inadvertently stresses and triggers others.   In following up as to how stress can impact our professional and personal relationships;  this posting, will look at:

  • What stress actually is.
  • Sources of stress.
  • How stress impacts health

   Stress

As Americans we are five percent of the world’s population but we consume 65 percent of the world’s psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers and mood enhancers*.  None of these will “cure” stress or anxiety and each has potentially toxic side effects as well as  addictive potential.   We seem to be a population under a tremendous amount of stress and collective malaise.

Our bodies respond to stressful situations by releasing hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, which immediately increase our  heart rate and energy level.  In the short-term, these stress hormones help us adapt and survive an unexpected threat.  Like a dog snarling at us or a car suddenly swerving in our lane.  Our arms and legs get a burst of  energy,  our hearts beat faster, blood pressure increases and  everything that’s not essential for survival gets turned off, such as digestion, growth, healing and reproduction,”  Temporarily we think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced.  All of this helps us respond  if…  it is an immediate and short-term physical stress-or —a real one.” **

The problem is;  non-life-threatening stressors, like worrying about money, the economy, your job or trying to please your boss, also trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, have devastating and life threatening  consequences to your health.  Negative emotions like anger adversely impact health as well.  In his ground breaking book,  Anger Kills, psychologist Redford Williams found that hostile, angry and driven individuals (The type A profile) are more likely to get heart attacks; often fatal.  These individuals (as we have seen in our last posting) typically trigger stress in others.   Bad bosses  (Unaware, driven, dominant and hostile)  have been shown  to be a significant risk factor in triggering heart attacks and other stress related disorders in the work place.

Our brains can not tell the difference between a real threat or an imagined threat.    Imagining or perceiving a threat  also triggers our fight or flight response.   In this case,  FEAR becomes an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.   Robert Sapolsksy, a leading neuro- scientist and foremost authority on stress  states:   “If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a bunch of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.”   Studies show that long-term stress  suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to infectious diseases,  can  shut down reproduction by causing erectile dysfunction and disrupting menstrual cycles.  If you are chronically stressed, all sorts of aspects of brain function are impaired such as creativity and problem solving.  Research also shows “stress to be a smoking gun in early onset of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia”.  (Singh- Kalsa)  Neurons in the parts of the brain relating to learning, memory and judgment don’t function well under chronic  stress and have been shown to die off.

The bottom line is:   For whatever reason, if you are chronically stressed,  like so many of us in these uncertain times,  you are more at risk for heart disease and many of the other leading causes of death in our Westernized life.”  (Sapolsky)   My next posting will highlight practical ways to effectively manage stress, cultivate calmness, and cope more effectively with the complexities of life.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, breath deeply; (at least three times)  this helps by  oxygenating the brain,  “flushing” out stress hormones and  allows you to better respond versus reacting.  Reacting tends to keeps us stuck in the situation we are resisting.   Remember; “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”.    (Anais Nin)

 Resources and References

*Richard Wolf, PhD;   Sun Magazine Feb. 2012 “Capitalism and its Discontents -What Went Wrong”  

** Robert SapolskyPH.D Stress the Portrait of a Killer, National Geographic, DVD

Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health;   Redford Williams MD, Virginia Williams, PH.D

Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program That Improves Your Mind and Memory , Dharma Singh Kalsa, MD & Cameron Stauth

Triggers and Stressors by Type by Peter Metzner


The last posting highlighted  core personality types and their characteristics. Most people are a combination of two.   While we are all unique and different from everyone else; we also share basic common themes in the way we work, relate to others, and react to life’s stresses.  Below is a summary of  the core types under stress.  Interestingly,  or ironically depending how you view it; when stressed each type can stress others resulting in a self reinforcing cycle of stress and negativity.   This is why we need to get out of our comfort zone and realize that each usually plays a role in the situation nobody wants!  When we overuse or misuse our strengths we push away the very things we want most in life.  Talk about irony!

Personality styles under stress or tension are as follows;

D – Drivers/ Dominant – have a tendency to Dominate, Attack, Push the envelope – (My way or highway)

I – Expressive – have a tendency to Blame, Criticize, Be sarcastic, Or even acquiesce

S – Amiable / Steadiness – have a tendency to withdraw, oblige or tolerate.

 C – Analytic / Compliant – have a tendency to avoid, justify, criticize  or complain.

 

As a reference for the closest comparisons to Peoplemap personality types (Lillibridge, Mathis 1992):

Leader = D / Driver / Director

Free Spirit = I / Expressive / Socializer

People = S / Amiable / Relater

Task = C / Analytical / Thinker

 Under stress each type tends to overuse their strengths –  potentially triggering defensive behaviors of the other types around them.  This in turn escalates conflict and tension in working relationships thus adversely impacting productivity and morale.  Note: each type can trigger the others also by staying in their relative comfort zones.

When triggered into their fight or flight response (real or imagined threat) individuals naturally react to the other according to their type: this is how the very thing we want most is pushed away.    The likelihood of each moving to their stress or danger zone is increased, further raising the likelihood for non productive behaviors, negativity and outcomes.

Leader type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Non-productive workers
  • Non-efficiency
  • Repeated mistakes
  • Loss of control
    • Incompetence
    • Passive aggressive behaviors.
    • Irrationality (Emotional response.)
    • Lack of logical basis for decisions
    • Failure to address competence after it has been identified
    • Not working hard

When angry regarding those aspects above, Leader types can have a no holds barred approach to conflict. Tempers may flare in either soft or loud tones.  Either way, others know of their displeasure and may retreat or cower from their anger or irritation.

People type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Not feeling valued or respected
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Not being listened to
  • Feeling unjustly criticized
  • Failure to respond to personal inquiry
  • Lack of attention to personal needs
  • Perceived condescension, insensitivity.
  • Focus on “it” or “task” rather than on the individual’s needs
  • Failure to acknowledge efforts
  • Judgmental

When angry…..People types often become passive aggressive (The power of the powerless) turn inward, so communication they crave becomes beyond their reach.  They are not good at expressing their emotions when under “assault” so their tendency is to shut down.  Their brain ceases to “exist” as it normally does and it almost is if they retreat and become numb to what is being said. This can be especially vexing to leader types.

Task type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Work, work, work, and work some more…
  • Feeling dumped on continuously as others know they will do what it takes to get the job done
    • Lack of attention to detail
    • Not given enough direction
    • Lack of verification of information
    • Failure to follow through as specifically described
    • Inefficiency
    • Laziness

When angry….Task types also tend to shut down and throw themselves even more into their work – sometimes losing track of the big picture.  They can be perceived as being critical, inflexible and judgmental; which can be especially difficult for People types as well as Free Spirits not to mention frustrating to Leader types!

Free Spirit type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Feeling ridiculed for their contributions
  • Not appreciated
  • Not having ideas listened to.
  • Demeaned if not part of status quo
  • Being micromanaged and questioned
  • Not having room or enough freedom to innovate
  • Over emphasis on rules
  • Others not being able to see the “big picture”

Free Spirits will likely rebel or leave a situation…they may simply walk away. What may be worse; they stay and remain unhappy: not feeling valued or appreciated. The more they feel controlled, micromanaged or not listened too the more rebellious they can become.

To transform negative emotions to constructive use can be as simple as ABC :

  • AAffect Acknowledge the anger or emotion your are feeling  e.g. I feel misunderstood, frustrated, hurt,  etc
  • B: Behavior. When you… showed up late, didn’t meet the deadline, etc..
  • C: Call for action (Choice).  I need you to:.  Be at work on time, honor your commitment etc.

By understanding the message of our emotions and using an assertive approach like this; we can create healthier, more productive relationships, get our needs met and live a more successful and empowered life.  Regardless of type, we all need to be able to state our needs in a calm straightforward and specific way.    If each is willing to listen and cultivate empathy for the other, the resulting positive shift in interpersonal  dynamics can immediate and profound!   Try it out!!