5:47PM Sep 2, 2020
Okay, hello. So today, I want to talk about, I think, one of the most common things, I think, put people in danger of being in a toxic, abusive, harassing, discriminatory work environment. And, it's something that probably is going to surprise you. But, I see it be a major problem. And, how I think about solving this problem ahead of time, before things get really bad.
So, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Meredith Holley. I am a lawyer, life coach and founder of Eris Conflict Resolution where we help employees stop toxic work environments and sexual harassment without quitting their jobs.
So, the tool I want to talk about today is the Abundance Spectrum. And, we use the Abundance Spectrum when we're thinking about preventing a workplace from becoming toxic or abusive. And so, a lot of times we're sort of taught to say that in order to avoid a toxic work environment, we have to find the special work environment where there are no abusive people.
And, this gets pretty tough. And, it puts all of the power into the hands of abusive people to determine whether we have a toxic work environment or not. Right? So, if you're saying I need to find a different work environment, in order to make sure I'm in a healthy work environment, and I need to find one with all friendly, respectful, kind people, it gives a lot of power to abusive people to determine what you do or don't do, right? Where you're allowed to work.
So, what we always want to do is provide the support necessary to allow non-abusive, hardworking, respectful people to do their jobs in any work environment, around any type of person.
Obviously, if you you're in physical danger, call 911, remove yourself. We're not talking about whether people should stay in work environments where they're being physically threatened, right? You need to do what's healthy for you.
But, the most common thing we see hitch people up is people say, "well, things aren't bad enough yet, for me to leave. I don't think things are bad enough yet for me to hire a lawyer..." Things aren't bad, and it's not bad enough, is what people say. And so, what that leads us to is letting things get worse, and worse, and worse until we give ourselves permission to do something about it.
We want to stop that because that keeps you trapped until things get bad enough to really make a change. We want to make a change ahead of time, so that you're always working towards a bigger goal, a more abundant life, something that's better, not something that's worse.
When we're in a place where we actually hear ourselves say, "I don't know if it's really bad enough to do something" or "it's not as bad as I'm making it sound," catch yourself because we know that you've gotten focused on letting things get bad enough--even if you... and I'm not saying you're intentionally doing this, none of us intentionally do this, right? We all intentionally want to live in healthy, respectful work environments. But unconsciously, we have this assumption that things have to get to a certain level of badness before we can do something about it. And this leads to us ignoring problems until they become worse and worse.
So the way that we look at this, I'm just going to share my screen and show you this little visual that I made to describe how I think about this problem. So, when we work with people on this problem, a lot of times we're working with people on envisioning what would a better work environment look like? What would a cooler job look like? What would a promotion look like for you? What would owning your own company even look like for you? What would something better look like, just to imagine something better instead of imagining something worse, right? And so, what happens is we set a goal, right? And what we're usually talking about is some goal that feels impossible to us. Now.
The goal seems impossible. And then, we have to do the work to deliberately become open to the possibility of something better than what we have now. So this is a step that we're taking just to counteract our natural negativity bias. It's our natural bias, when we're saying things aren't bad enough, to think about what is worse.
So we want to, intentionally, sit in a space where we're open to the possibility that something could be better. And, we get specific about what that might be, that would be better. Instead of spending time thinking about what could be worse, we know that when we're driving, for example, our hands automatically go to whatever we're looking at. And the same thing is true when we're thinking about "things could be worse."
We're not intentionally trying to make things worse, but our attention is on what could be worse. And we're like steering ourselves a little bit in that direction, unintentionally.
So, we want to get intentional about envisioning something that would be better, even though it seems impossible.
And then, spending that first part of our time being open to the possibility of the impossible thing. Like, just intentionally sitting. It's almost a meditative practice of living in a space of "what if it was possible for something to be better?" And then, you intentionally go to a space of intentional wanting it to be better.
So, usually what happens in this space, is we think about something that could be better. So, for example, we think about "I could get a promotion," right? "My boss isn't respectful to me in this environment, I could get a promotion." That seems impossible at the time, right? Then, we are open to the possibility of maybe there is a promotion, maybe somebody in the universe has gotten a promotion? Maybe there is a promotion somewhere available to me where I make more money? And then, what happens is our brains say, "well, there's nothing wrong with where you are now. It's not that bad now..." that's when our brains get really loud with it. It's not that bad now.
And then, you have to take time and intentionally want something better even though your unconscious brain is telling you that what is better is a threat to what you have now. So, you intentionally take time to want something else. Because, in this space, your unconscious brain and your conscious brain are dissonant, right?
So, your unconscious brain says change is a threat to your life now, which is true, right? If you do if you get something better, you lose what you have now. And so, you have to choose something that's... but the thing is true is if you get something worse, right? If you let things continue to deteriorate, to get worse, you lose what you have now also.
So, we're always moving in one direction or another. We're always moving towards chaos, towards organization. We're always moving towards fear or towards love. We're always moving. And so, we want to take what intentionally we want and make that unintentional. And, this is the process of how to do that because our unintentional brains, our unconscious brains, work so much faster than our conscious brain that they usually are creating what we have now.
If you look around yourself, at what you have now, it's a good representation of what you unconsciously think is normal for somebody to have, right? So, if you want to change it, you have to take what you intentionally want, and let that become the new unconscious, normal. And then, you have it. And so, this is the process of that.
So it's impossible, you become open to the possibility, then you sit in a space of intentionally wanting this goal. And, what I notice is that my unconscious brain is so afraid of it, that I'm often like, "no, I don't want it. I don't want to have a business. I don't want to have something better. I don't need it anyway. Why are we even talking about this? It's too hard."
So, you have to intentionally create enough space to want it, in order for it to happen. And then, once you've practiced wanting it enough, it becomes unintentional wanting. And then, you almost immediately have your goal, right?
So, this is all just changing how we think about things. In order to create a new experience of life, we--most of us--for example, have a house or some kind of house, we rent a place to live, we have a roof over our heads. People who don't are rare, unless there's a mental illness involved, some kind of trauma experience, right? And so, somehow, even though we face all these challenges, we manage to eat food every day, we manage to have a house over our head--even people who don't have a roof over their head, still often manage to eat food every day. And so, we have these baselines, what we expect to be normal. And that's what we create in our lives.
So, we need to reprogram what we expect to be normal, in order to create something better--if we want to. So, this is the space where if somebody says, "it's not that bad yet," they're not intentionally making the effort to change what they think is normal. Still somewhat bad and terrible, feels normal to them. And, we want to change that if we're going to create an anti-bias culture. If we're going to create a culture that releases oppression and doesn't treat oppression as normal, we have to make the intentional steps to treat it as very abnormal.
Then, after you have your goal... So, say you've gotten the promotion, you've spent the time where the promotion is impossible, you're open to the possibility, then you intentionally want the promotion (even though it seems like a threat), then you unintentionally want it, it seems normal, and then you have it.
At that point, we move to a place where a lot of us have abundance shame. We're like "what's wrong with me, that I have all these nice things? I'm not suffering, other people are suffering. There's something wrong with me. And, this is a big place of self-sabotage. It's what they call the "upper limit" problem, right? The Hendricks books say/call it the "upper limit" problem.
So, we have abundance shame. And we can often self-sabotage at this point. And then, get back to the place where we don't have the goal and keep struggling. You see this happen with people who, like, get a promotion and then lose their marriage. They, like, get to a new level in their marriage, and their business tanks. We have these set points of what we think is normal for us to experience as positive in the world. And so, abundance shame often tracks us back when we've moved forward.
So then, we have to normalize what we've stepped into and what we're willing to have as positive in our lives. This is similar to being open to the possibility, just normalization of where we are now. Then, we have to intentionally want where we are now, which is similar to this step, right? This is like a repeat, but this part is about where you are now in order to make sure you don't self-sabotage, and lose what you created.
And then, once you in unintentionally want the increased abundance that you've created in your life... then, you're at this place of increased abundance, you set a new goal and you can repeat--in order to just structure how you increase the abundance/the positive that you are willing to allow yourself to have in life.
So, the way that this plays out with our clients is, often our clients come to us in severe distress. They are experiencing abuse at work, they're afraid they have to, they're going to have to quit their job. They feel really targeted and abused. And also, like, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, all of these things, right?
So, somebody's in their office, like, their manager says, "why did you send this email? Have you taken care of this yet? We're disappointed in you. We thought you were better than this," something like that, right? And then, they come to us and they're in distress. "Do I have to leave? I don't know if things are bad enough for me to file a lawsuit, but I just don't want to lose my job," is what they often say. And then, we walk them through a process, through IMPACT training. We take them through Cultural Health IMPACT training, in order to keep their job and understand how to impact their environment to reduce the oppression and the abuse in their environment. And, make sure they can get back to work and focus on their work.
But then, sometimes, when people don't do ongoing work, they find themselves back feeling terrible again about six months later, right? And this is because they haven't followed up, followed this goal-setting, increased abundance possibilities. So, we do ongoing support with them.
Now, to make sure that this really gets implemented, that wherever you are, you put your brain on the problem of creating abundance, not the problem of whether things are bad enough yet, right? And, letting things get worse and worse.
So, when we go through Cultural Health IMPACT training, often goal-setting is an important part of this. Because we want our brains to be focused on the positive, on creating a normalized, increased abundance, lowered oppression. When you have increased abundance, you sort of automatically have lowered oppression in your life. And, willingness to encounter challenge in a way that creates more positivity, or more of whatever you want in your life--rather than being controlled by your external circumstances and unable to face challenges. And, internalizing what the external circumstances are.
So, this is the Spectrum of Abundance, the Abundance Spectrum. I like this tool. I think about it all the time. And, I know that if I have... if I've set a goal, and I haven't, I don't see it in my reality, that I have work to do on how normal I think that goal is. I'm intentionally wanting that goal on being open to the possibility that other people have created something similar, that it could be available in life. We always know that things are impossible until they become possible, until someone steps forward and says, "I figured out how to make this possible." And, all of our brains are the key to doing that.
So, if you want to know more about what we do, go to erisresolution.com/training. If you know anyone who doesn't know if things are bad enough at work yet, send them to us right away. We do not need things to get worse before they get better! And then, we work on exactly what better looks like for you, or for the person that you know and love who might be in distress at work. So that's, erisresolution.com/training.