How Are You Numbing Yourself?

I have been fortunate to be pretty healthy. I noticed I resorted to an old pattern when I was recently ill. I closed myself off and did not expect people to support or care for me. “I can take care of myself.” I noticed that I felt alone as I isolated. I recalled hearing my mother admonish me, “You’re going to get sick when you don’t wear a hat in the winter.” I decided that I would not show illness and not need help. I essentially never missed a day of school or work again.

We all have patterns that probably once served us quite well and were a creative choice in our youth. We learned how to numb ourselves from hurt or potential pain.

I notice that some leaders continue such patterns of numbing in the workplace. It is easy to stay at the transactional level and not show care for team members or colleagues. Some leaders hold back from giving genuine empathy. Others mask their need for belonging with busyness and overwhelm. Stress numbs our ability to be authentic and connect.

I often encourage leaders to adopt an Open Stance. We can learn to notice when we sense judgment in ourselves and others and learn to stop, step back, cool down, and shift to being open. We also benefit from recognizing our old numbing patterns that no longer serve us and cause us to become closed in an effort to protect ourselves.

We all have these patterns, and we can support one another by appreciating our humanity, listening with curiosity, and working to create environments where we can bring our whole selves and experience a sense of belonging.

We need to be open and kind to one another and create communities where we can engage in open-minded conversations, appreciate our uniqueness, and co-create solutions. We will be better positioned to support each other as we each do our inner work. Leaders I coach have noticed that when they are numb or closed and have experimented with sharing their experiences, being more vulnerable, and caring for themselves and others, they experience greater connection and even joy.

Leadership self-development is an ongoing process and a most satisfying journey. With our enhanced awareness, we can influence others and make a difference.

I encourage you to reflect on your numbing patterns and take steps to foster a more open and empathetic stance toward yourself and others and a collaborative and supportive workplace culture.

Where do you sense you are numbing or closing yourself from genuine connection?

Learn about ways to enhance your self-development in 12 Top Ways to Enhance Your Leadership Self-Development.

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