A big topic to tackle this week- Meaning. How do we even approach this one?
You will benefit from concentrating in this area if you rated the statements like this in the survey with Strongly Disagree, Disagree or Neutral.
Keeping interested in things is important to me
I seldom wonder what the point of it all is
I keep interested in things
My life has meaning
Let me just say something at the outset: if you are scoring pretty low on these items, I might gently suggest that you need to seek some external support. Once we lose the meaning in our lives and start to wonder at the point of it all, we are in danger of losing ourselves. Be very gentle with yourself and look for some places where you might get help- maybe a close friend, or a professional through, for example, The Australian Psychological Society (APS) http://www.psychology.org.au/
If you find yourself losing interest in something in particular, let’s say for example, your job, then this blog may help you to re-focus.
Meaning, religion and Spirituality
One of the difficulties of talking about meaning is its immutable qualities. What isn’t in dispute is the strong research base that indicates a robust relationship between religion or spirituality and resilience. Let’s start by distinguishing between religion and spirituality. Religion most often has an organized structure and an understood deity, whereas spirituality may simply focus on the non-material aspects of our existence. Either way, those that hold a belief in something seem to bounce back easier. This may be due to a number of factors. Those that belong to an organized religion, for example, may find support from their group or church in hard times. They are also usually more able to give support when it is required (I’ll be talking about this in a different blog, but it’s strongly correlated with resilience, too). Sometimes people also find it a comfort to give what they can’t understand or cope with to a higher being or higher self.
Whatever our beliefs, it’s been demonstrated that having rituals can strongly assist in helping us cope with challenges or re-establish meaning in our lives. Rituals can take many different forms whether it be to light a candle in memory of someone, to chanting, to visiting a particular place on a special day.
What am I doing this for?
Recently, I’ve been working with a number of different organisations who have come across a similar problem. That is, the staff have become disillusioned with their work, and are increasingly unable to answer the question “What am I dong this for?”. We identified that part of the problem is the tendency to see statistics and data reporting as king, which can remove the humanistic aspect of what the workplace is achieving. If, for example, you are saying each week “We have increased our output by 43%”, this doesn’t mean as much as “We have helped 43% more people”. A sense of meaning becomes even stronger if you can report on one or two cases where a person was helped and how they appreciated it. This is important in terms of connecting in for people, but becomes even more critical if the organisation is going through troubled times. If the staff members are unable to understand why they are working so hard- or if the nature of their work takes them away from their core values, this erodes their loyalty to the business and their own personal resilience.
So, how do we increase meaning in our lives? Let’s try some exercises this week:
Exercise Making work more meaningful: If you are in a workplace that is statistics mad, keep in mind the difference you are making whether that be to the final customer or to other staff members and focus on that.
Exercise: Get out of your own head: I usually find that my meaning in life is re-enforced when I focus not on myself, but on other people. Go out and do something for someone else. You’ll be encouraged to do this in a later blog… but there’s no reason you can’t start now!.
Exercise: Increasing spirituality: If you belong to an organized religion, make an effort to become more involved. If not, find another way to expand on your spirituality and incorporate that.
Exercise: Ritual: If you find yourself completely flummoxed by a turn of events or scratching your head as to the ‘why’ of it, try using a ritual. If, for example, someone has hurt you, you could write them a letter full of your feelings and then dispose of it in some way. Or you could try turning the issue over to a higher being or self.
Keep up that physical self care, try one or more of these exercises and keep going! I’ll be back next week to see how you are going at the half-way mark.
Take care and stay steadfast…
Ingrid and the team.