The past few weeks I’ve been discussing how impactful past negative experiences are to present-day life and interactions. New pathways set as a result of emotional trauma change the way that our brain processes future experiences, thus setting the appropriate context for the “get up when you get down” mantra–so logical and popular but so hard to do.
Quite coincidentally, I had lunch last week with an old friend I’ve known for about 26 years now. We don’t see each other very much and I shared with her that my father had passed away in 1994. “Were you able to get over it?” She asked, knowing that he and I did not have the best of relationships. I was rather stunned by the question, I concede, as I had honestly not given it much thought.
It took me a while to respond as I tried to think of what I did to “get over” his death. There was nothing explicit I did. At the time I was dating my future spouse, and subsequently had two of the most beautiful children ever created. My career was going very well as was almost all other parts of my life, and has since.
It struck me the reason I never had to “get over” his death was because I had become incredibly happy and at peace with myself, my place in this world and all the good things that occurred. My friend’s question reiterated for me what I’ve often written and talked about–that it is easier to “get over” anything if where you are going to next is a better place. My guess is that many of you already know this, though you might be wondering what this has to do with your work life.
There is no question workplace dynamics and the inherent human drama have a tremendous influence on our ability to not just “get over” something but also to “get up” when the proverbial curve balls comes our way. There are going to be people at work who will not like you, who will be less competent than you but in higher positions, who will make every day just a little more difficult than it really needs to be. The worst response is to allow them all to compromise your health–professional and emotional.
Conversely, the best response, is to focus more on your health. Simplifying matters even more, the best defense against mean people is your own happiness. This week, focus on specific activities that fuel your happiness. Try to perform them before and after you run into those challenging experiences and people. Never underestimate the power of a genuine authentic smile as the best attire you can wear.