From Stressed & Tired to Energized & Inspired – a guide for professionals to get your Power Back
So many of us suffer from stress, overwhelm and even exhaustion. What is worse, many of us put up with such suffering for much too long, which leads to all sorts of psychosomatic illnesses and ultimately, a serious personal & professional crisis.
What can we do to make a healthy change fast and permanent?
I have devoted many years to finding the best way to help my clients regain energy and inspiration. Interestingly, it was my own problem with exhaustion and ensuing back pain that helped me to find the best answers. After 8 years from my ordeal and many successful interventions with my coaching clients, I can say that I found the solid answer. There are several fundamental mental adjustments that lead to sustained recovery. I will describe each one in a separate article.
Adjustment No. 1. Do not put all of your Identity into one basket.
Why work with Identities?
Many executives put more than 90% of their available creativity & energy into work. Their physical, emotional and spiritual lives are often grossly neglected. If you do not have balance in terms of family and friends, no hobby, and you are not devoting time to personal growth you are at high risk. Of course, there is always a good excuse: “my work takes up so much of my time that there just isn’t space for much else”. It is important to remember that we always have choices and that every choice we make has consequences.
When we first start experiencing stress we may not consider it important. It is only after some time that physical and emotional signs of ill-being appear. At our core, we all know that this is vital and needs attention. To stay reasonably balanced and function well you need to take care of all the aspects of the self – starting from the 4 basic ones: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I find it works best to hold these aspects healthy and balanced via different identities.
An identity is just what you strongly identify with. It could be in a form of an archetype, person, animal or a metaphor. Each identity comes with a set of resources that can be useful in different situations, and can help you to regain balance and be more effective. You need to discover them and keep them in good shape so they can be employed when needed. My experience is that it is essential to foster at least several Identities.
It may be useful for you to see how it worked in my own life. It was actually my suffering from stress, overwhelm and exhaustion that led me to discover how powerful the work with identities was. I was an overstressed business person who, under many responsibilities, forgot about living his full life.
As I recognized only after my downfall, at some point, my businessman identity took over completely, making my life highly work-linear. In a few years, I lost a lot of my passion and drive. It took a serious back illness to remind me of the importance of my other identities. It was the artist identity that pulled me emotionally out of crisis and the mountain climber who helped me get back into physical shape. The seriousness of my pain helped to wake up my neglected Identities – which, ultimately, were the key to my recovery.
To speak even more practically, this method is about using your personified identities consciously in decision making as well as motivating yourself and others. For example, you can ask your identity whether to take a job, get involved in a project, hire someone or for advice on your next career move. To motivate yourself, you bring forward an established identity which is needed for a certain task. The questions could be: how would your inner artist go about it? How would she prepare? What would be important to her in this situation? The answers are useful because they come from a deeper self – not affected by worry or fear.
Useful types of Identities
You need to choose the right identity for the job – that is why it is wise to have at least several of them – representing the most important aspects of your authentic Self. From my experience, you definitely need one that is physical. This is a part of our make-up because for ages we were a hunters and gatherers. When you are not in a good physical shape it affects all the other domains of your life, including your performance at work. There are tons of studies about it.
You need one that is emotional – an identity connected with relationships, belonging and love. At work, we often become machine-like and human needs show up painfully if they are neglected. I call this aspect of our identity our Human Base. Victor Frankl describes in “Man’s Search for Meaning” that people who lost their families were much more prone to dying in concentration camps.
Finally, you need one that is spiritual – connected with self-actualization. For me it is the artist – it reflects my core beliefs and my core values. I need to create beautiful, innovative things to be happy. Knowing this, I prefer to do less but with more quality. Knowing this, I sign up for jobs and clients that allow full expression of what I can do. Knowing this, I let go of activities that are mundane or change them into artistic endeavors – not because of vanity but to feed my soul.
Identities and the meaning
In the end, it all comes to the meaning we make of our lives – consciously and unconsciously. If we are neglecting our deepest values, our deepest yearnings we are going to pay the price. In Frankl’s book, people who lost their meaning lost their identities and therefore, lost their will to fight for life. Each one of us is, in some way, ‘fighting’ for their best life. In order to stay vibrant and motivated, you must pay attention to the meanings of your life – the obvious and the hidden. One way to connect with them is through work with identities.
By giving space to the different aspects of your life – through bringing your different identities into play – you are able to fulfill your needs, honor your values, and maintain balance. As I am observing with my clients and myself, this translates into renewed personal strength and increased professional drive. It can even take you from surviving to thriving.
Success and happiness are possible when you pay attention to what is important but hidden within you. With the help from an experienced coach, you can unveil additional resources that are embodied by your identities. Don’t be fooled by feeling too stressed and tired, to even explore this idea. I believe you will find tremendous value in getting to know your identities, and I trust they will help you get energized and inspired.
Jacek ‘Skyski’ Skrzypczynski – Power-Back Executive Guide
skj@AdventureforThought.com +48 603 649 129