Just like a bad smell can awaken an instinct of repulsion, so can bad energy.
I don’t know about you, but when I come into contact with someone who is victimized or just saturated in a constant state of complaint, I sometimes feel the same instinct to pull away that I do when a repugnant smell hits my nostrils.
Who wants to stand around and have a conversation or solve a problem next to a pile of decomposing fruit in the summer heat?
That’s what it’s like to be in a meeting with a leader or a colleague who has a bad attitude, defensiveness, and negativity.
Or the co-worker who starts a meeting complaining he has so many meetings. (Unless the purpose of the meeting is to solve for the disproportionate balance of meetings to work time…it’s not helpful. Actually, even then…it’s not helpful. Better to vent about your personal situation to your dog who will simply lick your face and make you smile).
In fact, behaviors such as these are like rubbing decomposing fruit all over the energetic airwaves.
You’re only stinking up the virtual workplace.
What most people don’t realize is that our energy is within our control.
Based on the work by Bruce D. Schneider, energy comes in a wide spectrum. Schneider explains that humans have an energetic profile that consists of seven levels of energy that run through us constantly. Think about yourself as a radio and at all times you’re able to tune in to multiple stations and let that music play: depending on the station, you may play songs that are sad (level 1), angry (level 2), coping (level 3), helping (level 4), creating (level 5), harmonizing (level 6), or zen (level 7).
No matter what song we’re playing, we can change our own station.
The first step to “smelling our own energy” is to notice the song we’re playing and deciding if we want to stick with it.
As part of my coaching certification program, I earned an specialized credential in a tool called the Energy Leadership Index (ELI). It’s an assessment that reveals the energy level in which you spend most of your time and the energy level that dominates your reaction to stress. I’m currently offering the assessment and a 75 minute debrief with me for $99 or free when you purchase a coaching package of 5 or more sessions (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more).
In the debrief of my own ELI results, I learned quite a bit about myself:
- My strength to see new opportunities also causes difficulty in maintaining my work/life balance
- I have untapped opportunity to develop my intuition and use it as a guide
- When I am stressed, my natural reaction is to move to a state of helplessness and feel a bit sorry for myself
One of the many things I love about this tool is that it doesn’t judge an energy as good or bad. It simply makes us aware that we have an energetic profile that is our starting point for how we make sense of the world. By understanding that there are different options, we can shift our energy level to one that might serve us or the situation better.
A complement to understanding energy levels is a technique to help our brains make a shift if we so choose. Researchers Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp, PhD noticed that a practice called mindful self-compassion can help us do just that. They call it Notice – Shift – Rewire.
- Notice: Notice your feelings. Label your feelings. Labeling is important because it requires us to slow the mind-chatter down long enough to deconstruct general feelings and label them as separate parts
- Shift: Redirect your attention to the present moment. Notice sounds around you, notice parts of your body that you typically take for granted (how your fingers feel, or your toes)
- Rewire: Reclaim connection to intention and choose where you take those feelings and if they are serving you.
A key part of the shift is granting ourselves self-compassion. These four mantras below show up in most mindful meditations about self-compassion and will ensure you bestow on yourself the same compassion you give to others.
- May I be kind to myself in this moment
- May I accept this moment exactly as it is
- May I accept myself exactly as I am in this moment
- May I give myself all the compassion I need
And, as I close this post, let me honor the fact that I opened it complaining about those who complain.
Maybe you experienced exactly what I’ve described and you felt an urging to pull away and read this later.
Negativity can be delivered in a variety of ways, including virtually. It is not bound by real-time exchange.
And, it can be cured with compassion for ourselves first. And, compassion for others next.
Most often something malodorous is rooted in much more than the circumstance that provoked it.
Thus, to continue to tip the scales toward kindness in this world, the more you can love through the stink, the more likely you’ll be able to encourage those spewing negativity into the airwaves to find his or her own path towards a better aroma.