The event took place in the very cool & funky PKF Cooper Parry East Midlands office https://twitter.com/PKFCooper_Parry who are ranked as one of the top 100 companies to work for, and on face value, it is easy to see why with such positive energy & aura of all who I encountered there – they even had a selection of toiletries in the gents toilet!
Following a round of introductions, Janice asked all delegates (later referred to here as colleagues as everyone got on brilliantly, many of whom met for the first time today) to draw / write down anything that related to how each person manages their self care as of today. My Blue Peter effort can be found as follows:
Before going into my descriptions, I thought it might be helpful to share one definition of self-care that I found online as it was not a term that I had not heard of before today, although appearing self-explanatory:
What jumps out to be from this description is the need for self-awareness, accountability, choice & collaboration to do a good job of self-care.
My pictures as to how I manage my self-care include:
- Reading (mainly business, self help, continuous improvement type books)
- Walks along Boscombe/Bournemouth beach
- Going to the gym (sometimes!)
- Speaking to others
- Mental health first aider course – I attended this some months after having a minor episode myself
- Meditation (this has made a huge difference to my calmness over recent months – ask my boss!)
It was interesting for me to reflect that my self-care mainly happens alone, in general terms, and appeared to be different to the majority of the women present who had more of a mix of self and others/groups (Yoga / Pilates / meeting friends were common replies)
This, I feel, as just one example, represents well one of the challenges in society around men in particular, developing the ability/choosing to be more self aware & more vulnerable (open) with themselves and those around them. This is a journey that I am currently on and I hope to help others along the same road as the freedom, as I am learning, that exists on the other side is significant.
Janice then took us through a very interesting model from Paul Gilbert which outlines the 3 main brain triggers that underline most of our behaviours.
We were asked to estimate where we spend our time as of today. For me personally, I estimated that I spend 70% of my time in the Drive system (I am in a sales role, love to help people etc so this does make sense), 15% in the Soothing system (this is mainly due to my recent increase in meditation, before that I was at around only 5%) and then 15% in the Threat system (mainly future based fears that I am continuously wrestling with)
Interestingly, only one person out of the 10 or so colleagues present appeared anywhere near 40% in the Soothing system. This was not intended to be a scientific experiment, but the feedback, that most of the room had themselves somewhere below 20% in soothing and indeed a fair few were 15% or below, evidencing the scale of the issue i.e. that we tend to look after others before we look after yourself. In itself this is not an issue, but if we are not looking after ourselves, our ability to support others has to reduce. (generally agreed in the room)
A cartoon that Helen used to advertise this Learn, Connect, Do is poignant here:
This served as a good example as to the need for us to carve out more time for reflection, to be centred, to think. This is especially important in our work orgs today where people feel overwhelmed by the frenetic pace of business and/or change.
On further discussion, Kirsten https://twitter.com/kirstenlholder commented that you could actually map an organisation using the evolutionary perspective. This was actually a really interesting and exciting concept & alternative OD viewpoint.
Going further I also feel, as below, that we can map introvert/extrovert/ambiverts using the same scale, which when considered in an org context, does help to explain why extroverts so often ‘get heard’ over introverts.
Surprising to many is that I am very much an ambivert, leaning towards Introvert if anything yet many believe I am extroverted due to my ‘Tigger’ like energy. I know how many masks I wear to maintain that however …..(Joker, Stoic, Know it all & Alpha masks all come out through choice to ‘fit in’ at times)
Our own sample group showed that self care, the soothing system in that example, which I would see as the introvert self, is getting the least amount of attention. Introversion is where we need space, time and balance to think. There is a really good talk by Susan Cain in this regard:
On reflection, this strikes a chord with me as if we extrapolate the above reflections into the wider world of work today, so many organisations that I am aware of work reactively vs proactively despite having the most advanced tech available to us.
I am 99% sure that this lack of space, choosing (although I know it often does not feel like a choice) to prioritise everything else over our own self care, often through fear (fear of seeming incompetent, fear of asking for help, fear of missing out on preferential treatment, progression etc), is one major contributor to the UKs productivity weakness that has persisted for some years.
‘Cognitive Acceptance Theory’
Janice introduced Cognitive Acceptance Theory (CAT) as an alternative to CBT as CAT appears to offer us more choice, more influence to deliver outcomes vs CBT which is about changing your state of mind, to in essence ‘cope’ with what is going on. (my interpretation)
I ran through a personal example with my coach for the moment Cat Hase https://twitter.com/cat_hase who really helped me unpick, using CAT, that my procrastination and indeed fears are still holding me back in certain areas. It was good to gain this clarity from someone that I had just met, something I have immediately started to correct on returning back home.
To finish I share an image from the self care forum again which highlights a final key reflection for me:
As much as we all need look out for each other, we all, but especially men, need to take more accountability for looking after ourselves and for seeking help from others when we need it.
It was interesting to hear in the following podcast recently that David Marquet, when asked about something that he had changed his mind about recently, was an increasing focus on emotion – see Twitter exchange below:
This is important, especially bearing in mind that Mr Marquet had previously led nuclear submarines, but had to switch from traditional command & control to empowerment, intent based structures urgently due to a forced situation.
HT to Helen for sharing this some time ago with me:
Due to generations of men growing up to ‘be the man’ and ‘not be a sissy’ and due to generations of monocultures/groupthink at the top of our corporations, we (men & many orgs) have developed what Lewis Howes would call ‘Masks of Masculinity’ which puts self-care right at the bottom of the pile of things to do. https://twitter.com/LewisHowes
This has started and will continue to change and events like this Learn, Connect, Do can only serve to help spread the importance of self-care for every one of us for personal, work and societal gain.
Learn – I learned so much today but especially that I need to seek more peer to peer support to shape my ideas and I also need to stop procrastinating as much – take more action!
Connect – As well as those already mentioned above, it was great to share todays session with https://twitter.com/andrea_shift https://twitter.com/Mel_Wakeman https://twitter.com/KateHHennig https://twitter.com/Qi_To_Health and other open minded, positive people
Do – I need, want & will be more intentional about developing better habits around exercise, mindfulness & action.
I will also keep a more regular check / journal of how I am managing my self-care going forward