Positivity won’t remove suffering – reality will

Working with people can be hard. They can be rude, dismissive, ignorant and arrogant. Just to name a few. Or are they? And is this description of them really helping you?

I propose that people are not the problem. It’s how far away from reality we are, in these moments, that’s the problem. Stay with me. In Reality-Based Leadership Cy Wakeman builds the case (and it’s damn compelling) that when we have a frustration with another, that it’s built on the stories and assumptions that we build up. Not what actually happened.

If someone rolls their eyes, that’s all they are doing. Rolling their eyes. If someone tells you they disagree, that’s all they are doing. Disagreeing. If someone dropped you off an email, that’s all they did. It’s the drama we create after the event that builds up the storm.

If they roll their eyes, they clearly have a problem with me. If they disagree, they think they are better than me. If they didn’t include you in the email then they are purposely sabotaging you. All of these ‘next thoughts’ are not helping you. They are elevating your suffering. They are also made up. Yep nearly all of them are. They are taking you away from what actually happened. The reality.

Then we live in the drama of the next thought. That’s exhausting. 

Wakeman says that most of the time we are our own source of suffering. I reckon that’s the good news. Because this is something we can control. So if this is true then why do we spend more time in blaming others for their behaviours or displaying victim-like behaviours and telling ourselves there is nothing we can do? Because it’s safer. It’s safer to make someone else the problem. It’s safer to feel justified by our reaction. Because then we don’t need to deal with the disappointment of playing a role in the whole scenario. That feels hard and can be disappointing.

Thinking positive thoughts won’t help here most of the time either. Positive psychology has discovered that happiness is not correlated to those without a lack of stress in their lives. It is correlated to the amount of self-accountability you accept. That’s accepting the role we play in the drama that is created after an event.

I don’t know about you but carrying all that blame and angst feels a lot heavier than accepting the role I played and moving on. 

Do you want to know how to create healthy conflict in the workplace? Do you manage teams and/or lead people? Then come to our online event September 7th or October 17th.  Register here.