In a conversation about my last post, “You know your work environment is toxic when…” I found myself having to explain the difficulty of distinguishing a harmful environment when you’re in one. No one wants to think they made a mistake, especially if they like aspects of their work or their job. And no one likes dealing with the uncertainty of the job market place especially now, so we can learn to tolerate a lot to feed our families. My point being it’s hard to tell the water’s dirty if thats what you are swimming in.
Unfortunately this concept can be extrapolated to our world at large. I have been reading The Autoimmune Epidemic, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. In it she posits we all have different autogen thresholds, with a full 25% of the population being more susceptible to autoimmune conditions. She likens this susceptability to a barrel effect…you dont know which drop of rainwater will cause the barrel to over flow but you know it will when it’s too full. The same goes for our bodies when we deal with toxins be they environmental, emotional, in our food etc… the more we allow into our genetic barrel…the closer we are to triggering a response of Dis- ease.
We humans have little control over the air, but we have a bit more when it comes to the informational pollution we allow in our space as well as the type of foods we eat and water we drink. Filtering and going organic helps physically and mentally I believe, as at least we can DO something especially in the face of overwhelming pollution such as we are seeing in the Gulf of mexico right now. But pollution comes in all types of forms in our informational age: Thought leaders in business agree that the most important thing you can do for your success is to take control of the suggestive elements in your environment. Brian Tracy says to “be sure that what you are listening to and seeing is consistent with the goals you want to achieve.” In my Master Plan seminar I have a TV and News Fast for 2 weeks to allow people to detox from the automatic nature of the drama in our news and other Television programming. They find this quiets the mind and allows them to get responsible for the influences they allow into their mental and emotional space. I highly recommend hulu and casttv.com as a way to enjoy programming with out the innundation of commercials.
Once you know an atmosphere is “off” you can then be responsible for how it impacts you, your health and your mood. Many of my clients have told me they didnt realize how much their mood was being impacted by the news and other negative conversations that are woven into the story lines of different shows AND played out in the commercials! The same can be said of the work place. Often you dont know how damaging or harmful a cultural conversation is to your wellness or mindset until you are away from it. A friend of mine recently left an executive position where she had a boss who managed by threat and a week later she confessed, “I didn’t know how my confidence had been impacted by the atmosphere there until I was out of it!”. She had begun to doubt her own capabilities in light of his consistent criticism.
Management by threat is insidious, and all too commonly practiced. Threatening people even slightly literally makes them stupid! According to David Rock: “Your Brain at Work” when our lymbic system percieves a threat ( it need not be real, and it can be social ) our pre-frontal cortex reacts by shutting down. This instantly shrinks our decision making capacity, short term memory and we go down deep in mood, often staying there longer with a negative social threat than we would a real physical threat. The threat of belonging is closely tied in our lymbic system to survival. This cycle puts our adrenal system in a over active loop of cortisol production ~ enhanced by caffienne/ nicotine~ and burns our circuits out over time…cortisol also stimulates the retention of belly fat for survival. This is why people who work in fight or flight environments often gain weight, they begin to eat as a reaction to the threat literally protecting them selves with a layer of fat.
It is my hope that this conversation will put people in a committed conversation to be mindful, and begin to look newly at the environmental factors that may be impacting their well being. Here’s to stepping out of the dirty water…