Webinar presenter Dr. Kimberly Miller answered a number of your questions after her presentation, “Keeping Your Super Heroes Super.” Here are a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Our first question for today is in terms of the energy spent on each category, what happens when they dedicate the hypothetical 20% work then unexpected events happen at work that forces to use more energy? Our line of work, of course, prone to unexpected events on a regular basis, how would you recommend they address those issues?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: That’s perfect. If you are at 20% then you got to give another 15% to work because a crisis happens… okay, then do that but then find a way to make sure even when you are doing the crisis things that you put a little bit in your bucket. Let’s say you’re at the office and you’re a police officer and there’s a critical incident and now you have to respond and now you have to work late. Okay, as you’re driving to the critical incident can you intentionally take some deep breaths? Can you intentionally say, “okay, I’m going to leave all the stuff I was just thinking about at work and the stress or the things that are going on at work? I’m going to shut that down and I’m just going to be fully present here.” When you’re driving home after you’ve managed the critical incident, can you take some more deep breaths? Can you say, “okay, now I’m going home, I have to switch out of work mode? I have to get back into the home mode.”
It’s really about the small things. Again, when you’re done with whatever that incident is or event is or crisis is and that crisis might just be dealing with a bunch of difficult employees who aggravate you and suck your energy dry. What can you do after that? What can you do to immediately renew? What can you do to get yourself back into the present moment?
I bring up the thing of music, I didn’t talk about it in the webinar but music has been proven to change your brain chemistry. They have done a ton of FMRI studies that when you listen to certain music, your neurotransmitters release dopamine. Your whole brain changes. I encourage people to listen to music as a way to manage their energy. If you need to get yourself up, turn on a song that inspires you. If you need to chill out, have those music selections available because that in itself can get you in a different mood, in a different mindset. You might not be able to do that massage, right? If you have a massage scheduled and now an event happens, you have to bring in more in your work, okay, but reschedule the massage. Don’t say “I have to give this other stuff so I’m not going to do the massage for two more months.” Figure out a way to regroup. Figure out a way to and from the stressful event to recuperate. Find a way at the end of the day to write down what you are grateful for. It’s the small things because you all do have a very unpredictable job and you aren’t always able to control. The work is can you get yourself back where you intentionally put something back in your bucket?
Audience Question: Dr. Miller, how do you help someone to learn how to forgive someone and not make them think that they’re just forgetting that it ever happened?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yes, so… that as I told you has been a big struggle for me. I was not born with forgiveness as a strength, to be honest with you. It’s been really hard for me in my life. I haven’t forgotten any of the bad stuff that has happened to me in my personal life or my professional life but I finally got to the place where I didn’t want to be angry anymore. To be honest with you, for a lot of years, I got something out of being angry. I felt more in control when I was angry. I felt entitled to be angry because of what people did to me, you know did to me. Anger was a very empowering emotion and hurt was not. I didn’t want to admit I was hurt. I didn’t want to admit I was disappointed. Those are way more vulnerable emotions.
So for me, I had to be in touch with the truth of that. I wasn’t just angry, I was hurt about it. I really wanted to be free of just being angry all the time, going to work and being mad or going to a family gathering and dreading seeing a certain person. The other thing I had to do for myself was, give up the hope that it would have ever happened differently. To me, I kept thinking they shouldn’t have done that, they should’ve wanted to be better, they shouldn’t have treated me like that. I didn’t deserve that. So I kept spending years and years saying those things and thinking those things which when I realize, oh I keep wanting the past to be different. It was not different and I’m burning a bunch of energy in the now, in the present wanting the past to be different. Yeah, I would love some people to have apologized to me. I think I deserve an apology. Reality is some of those are never going to apologize. Some of those people are never going to think they are wrong, they’re going to think it’s all me, whatever. I just had to say, you know what, they made their choices I have to make mine because I’m tired of being exhausted. I’m tired of being angry. I want to be in a different place in my life. I don’t want them to control me.
That’s what I meant when I said take your power back because anybody that you don’t forgive or you’re unwilling to forgive they maintain control over you. I had to get to a place where I want to be able to be in control of myself. That’s what worked for me, to realize I am not free as long as I am tied into the pain of the past that somebody created or did or whatever. I won’t forget what’s happened to me but I’ll tell you because I’ve done a lot of intentional work around it and learning to let stuff go and working through my emotions, I am no longer controlled by the pain of my past which is total freedom and a whole new world for me personally.
Audience Question: You mentioned earlier in the presentation that negative feelings are our early warning system. What is the early warning system for? Burnout? Or just stress? Or what?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: I’m glad you all asked about that. A few things, when I get, let’s say hurt and usually for me, anger comes first and when I’m honest I’m like, okay now I’m not just angry, I’m hurt. I can ask myself, remember I said there are usually two origins for negative feelings. Do I have an unmet need or did somebody violate a value? If I can figure out if I have an unmet need, I can ask to have that need met. I can say you know what, I’m sure you didn’t mean this but that really came across as disrespectful. With many people when I say stuff like that, they say, “Oh my gosh I’m totally sorry, I didn’t mean that to be disrespectful.” They apologize and we fix it and we move on. Now, my needs are met because they said they didn’t mean to come across that way and it’s done.
You think about it a lot of time it should be these small little things that we go, “Man, that’s disrespectful, they’re a jerk.” And we never say anything. We don’t even give that person a chance to re-clarify or figure it out or work through a small thing and then it blows up to be a big thing over time. I like to first ask myself as a warning system, did somebody not meet a need or did somebody violate a value? Because then I could find the good words to have a conversation with that person about. The other thing it’s an early warning system of, for me, is how full is my bucket? I’d go back to that thing around frustration and irritation. For me, sometimes, I get really irritated with people or frustrated with people when I’m burnt out and I’m exhausted and my bucket’s empty. A lot of times, I’ll either ask somebody else, like, was that aggravating to you or is that just me? Or I’ll ask myself, okay, on a regular day, on a fifty-gallon day or an 80-gallon day, would that bother me? If my answer is no, then I know I’m in a place of burnt out or exhaustion and I need to get some rest, I need to do some self-care because on a regular day when my bucket’s fuller, that wouldn’t be any big deal.
For me it’s an early warning sign for a few things, number one, did it violate a value or a need and what’s the language I can find to talk about that. Number two, where am I with my energy bucket? Will that bother me on a regular day? Is there something going on with me, what do I need to do about it? A lot of times, when we have negative feelings of anger, frustration or irritation, we immediately attach those feelings to another human. We say they made us feel a certain thing and make it their fault when in reality it’s all about us. It’s about how full our bucket is. I use it as an early warning sign for a variety of things for me. That’s really helped me identify what’s really going on and then work to address it.
Audience Question: Dr. Miller, if people want to reach out to you and get a hold of you, would you prefer that they reach through me and I can forward those emails to you or would you want to share your contact information? Either way is fine by me.
Dr. Kimberly Miller: My website is: kimberlymillerconsulting.com. You can also reach out to me by email at [email protected]. Feel free to drop me a line. A quicker way to join my email list, if you’re interested, is just texting DRMILLER to 22828 and you will be on my newsletter emailing address for upcoming events, free giveaways, and other webinars.
Audience Question: Any advice for anyone that finds it hard to focus on one thing at a time?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yes, a few things. Number one is the concept called grounding and we use that a lot with people who have anxiety or dealing with panic attacks. We try to ground them at the moment. Here are some things you can do to do grounding. It’s just saying how do my feet feel right now on the floor? Let me focus on my breathing. What’s something I can look at in the room and focus on whether it’s a painting, paint color or whatever. Doing little things like that, bringing you into the present moment, whatever that is.
Another thing you can do if you are having a conversation with someone or if you are in a meeting is saying in your head grounding you in what they are saying. If somebody’s talking to you and let’s say they’re in your office and they’re upset about something, as they’re talking you can start reflecting in your head what they are saying. Well, wow that person sounds so upset? Or boy, they sound hurt with that interaction. Those little things keep you at the moment. Another thing you can do to keep you at the moment and that would depend on the situation like if you’re in a meeting and you have a notepad with you. Write down things that ground you in this meeting. So and so just said this was a great idea. It seems like we’re all agreeing on this. Just jotting little notes down also keeps you in the present moment. Another thing that can keep you grounded in the present moment is just breathing. That’s some so simple but it’s so powerful. Can you just sit and take a deep breath in and as you breathe in silently count in your head for a count of three or four or five and then exhale for a count of three or four or five. It’s really hard to be thinking about a ton of other things when you’re counting. That was my solution for me getting better at meditation because when I count in as I breathe, I count it in for a certain number and I exhale for a certain number, I couldn’t think about anything else other than counting.
The work is just to figure out what do you need at the moment if you are just by yourself and need to get regrounded and focus because you are just trying to just do email, can you just ground yourself in that? Can you take some deep breaths? Could you remind yourself or say out loud, “focus on email, what I’m trying to do is focus on email, this person on the email deserves an intentional response, let me think about what’s the best way to do this”? Now your mind is always going to wonder a little bit but the work is just bringing it back and finding ways to refocus. Those are a few ideas that I have that can help you be grounded right here right now.
Audience Question: What questions can I ask myself should I have done this differently or do I not need to feel regret about what I did or did not do. I hope you kind of got the sense of what the question is. How can I overcome questioning of themselves about whether or not they did the right approach to a situation?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: That goes back to the idea what I was saying about creating space. I think we live in a noisy world and I know this is going to totally date myself but I know a lot of people still in the call can relate to this. You know when we were growing up how we were the remote control for the TV and there were only three channels, it was the black and white TV and at the end of the night they played the national anthem and showed the flag and the TV turned off. We didn’t have phones in our cars. We had to have these interpersonal connections and we had in our life a lot of quiet. We had more time to self-reflect and think.
But in our world today, any time of the day, 24/7, we have news, there are always emails, there’s always some ad wanting something now we have our phones and a lot of people in our lives expect a 24/7 access. We don’t have enough time for self-reflection. I would encourage all of you to at least once a week, find time for quiet. Yes, we can all do better. We are all flawed human beings. We’re all going to make mistakes but I encourage you even in saying you know what I could have said one thing better this week. Okay, yes you could’ve. Don’t use it as a way to beat yourself up because that’s not going to do any good at all. Say, “Okay I could’ve said it better”, and then I would challenge you to do two things. One, why didn’t I think of saying it better at the moment? Were you tired? Were you burnt out? Were you angry? Remember Antonio Damasio talks about our emotions drive our decisions. When we’re angry, we don’t always say good things. Figure out why you didn’t think about it better at the moment or you made a poor choice or you overlooked something and then say okay, what can I do better? How can I learn from that? Do I need to take a vacation? Do I need to get some more sleep? Do I need to do some self-care? or do I need to `let stuff go or do I need to work on my forgiveness? Do I need to let go of anger?
Whatever it is, I think self-reflection is critical but I know a lot of perfectionists use it to beat themselves up which is not healthy and burns tons of energy and ends up emptying your bucket. I encourage all of you to find the time for quiet. I will tell you I mentioned my retreat earlier, I come up with some of my work ideas when I’m on my retreat trying not to think about work because I’m just quiet I’m not doing anything. I don’t have my electronics and when you have space for quiet, these little gems bubble up. I always keep a pad with me and I write down my ideas and my notes. I don’t work on them when I’m on my retreat. That space for quiet tells you a lot about what’s going on with you, brings up a lot of good suggestions but too many of us stay too busy and we don’t have space to listen to the whispers from the universe.
Audience Question: During that retreat time, are there questions you are asking yourself? Or maybe exercises you are going through or is it just getting that quiet time? And the questions kind of identify themselves almost.
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yeah, I was talking to Aaron and Chris before the webinar. I do spend the first day sort of reflecting on where my business has gone over the last year and my goals and I try to write that down. I spend a lot of time in meditation, I read books. for me, the healing restorative stuff for me is being in nature. I spend a lot of time in a National Park, hiking, snow-shoeing and just sitting by the water, being quiet, looking at the sky and it really is in just my silence and quiet and engaging in self-care activities that I’ll be in a snowshoe hike somewhere and I’ll come up with the greatest idea ever just because I am not trying to think about stuff. Stuff will come about my personal life too and I’ll go, “You know what I haven’t connected with so and so in a while, I really need to call them”. I could’ve handled some situations differently. I also come back from that retreat and I have conversations with people in my personal life that I get too busy to have or whatever. A lot of time just doing my self-care, engaging in those activities that renew and restore me, it sort of takes away the clutter and the hecticness and the busyness of my day to day life. Then these little gems bubble up and when I get back from my retreat, I work at whatever those are.
Audience Question: Any closing comments that you would like to share with everyone?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: I know self-care is hard for some of you because you are these passionate service professionals but find a way to do it. Find whatever works for you, find the small things you can do throughout the day. A lot of you cannot take two weeks off. Many of you, if you are in mandatory overtime might not get two days off. What can you do throughout the day? What are the small ways you can manage your energy, you can focus your time on the present, you can let stuff go and not ruminate on things that make you angry? You can find a way to listen to music or get a massage because self-care game and filling your bucket is not one with these huge things you might do for yourself, I mean that’s a piece of it. The self-care game and the energy management game are won to the small intentional things you do throughout the day. Figure out a way to do whatever works for you, figure out a way to help people in your office, find the little things that work for them. Certainly, reach out to me if you have any questions, or there’s a way I can help you or your organization.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of “Keeping Your Super Heroes Super.”