WORKING LIFE

“Every Human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and inform our lives”

Joseph Beuys

Is it normal to experience a feeling of dread every Monday Morning?

More and more organisations are expecting higher performance outcomes from staff whilst simultaneously reducing workforce numbers and enforcing cuts to much-needed resources.
There was a time when it was mostly lower earning employees who had to experience the negative consequences of ‘restructuring’. Now, we find many professionals experiencing the exact same problem.
As workloads intensify, people are spending less time focusing on their primary work and more time in  backrooms on computers. Ironically, a lot of this ‘backroom time’ is used in order to account for the primary work they do, this is often done so organisations can provide the necessary stats to funding providers to hopefully secure the following year’s tender.
The cumulative effect of increased working hours, stagnant wages and job insecurity is that a significant percentage of the UK workforce (management included) now feel deskilled, undervalued, depressed, resentful and creatively empty.
Some may seek a new career, but the vacancies advertised do not seem very attractive. Often we see employers openly expressing a wish for potential workers to be able to thrive in environments that are continually stressful.
Let us, for a moment take a look at physical stress, Imagine you have been sent to a hospital, you injured your back through putting it under stress. What advice would a doctor give you? He or she would tell you to stop putting your back under stress, you would then be given treatment in order for you to heal.
Mental stress should be no different.
Some people challenge the enforced pressure and stress of the workplace by becoming more politically organised, this can be an important ingredient for positive change. However, it is equally important for all of us to examine the role internal transformation can play in reshaping the environment we inhabit. Unfortunately, this is an area that is often ignored or seen as of secondary importance.If we inhabit a mind filled with worry, anxiety or anger, we initiate limited response mechanisms. For example, when arguing for things to be different, we may find ourselves using language that causes others to respond in an excessively defensively way, this makes it almost impossible for others to hear our requests, no matter how valid our requests may be.
If we can become free, even for a short time, from painful and negative thoughts, we can enter an internal space that is absent from habitual destructive thought patterns. With practice, we can experience a sense of freedom and clarity that affords us new found opportunities to respond to situations in new and exciting creative ways.
There has been an old story that we have been listening to for a very long time. The old story tells us that the more resources we gather, the more power we obtain, the more control we have over others, the more we turn to quick, instant fixes to end our problems…the easier our lives become. The reality, however, is that we have been sold a false narrative. We only have to look around and see that it is the people who are most committed to this story who are often the most unhappy, acting in the most destructive ways with little thought for the future.
This is sometimes referred to as the old story of self. When we obtain some of the tools that enable us to make a clearing from this old story, we can begin to appreciate our commonalities, then, we can speak to others in ways that resonate. Then what happens? People listen. People listen because their defensive mechanisms are no longer on high alert.
In this space, we uncover possibilities, possibilities to create change in ways that we may never have imagined.
I use the terms positive disruptions and positive distancing. If we treat all of the thoughts we generate as stories, we can see that we hold strong tendencies to tell ourselves the same, similar stories time and time again. The more we repeat a story, the more we inhabit it, the more solid and real it becomes. If it is a story of hopelessness and despair then this becomes our reality.
One of Freeclarity’s main aims is to act as a positive disrupter, disrupting unhelpful limiting stories in gentle, fun and imaginative ways. We do this in order to create positive distancing between ourselves and our old stories thereby giving agency for people to create new internal frameworks for change.
How do we this? By bringing new experiences to groups we can forge new alliances of methodologies to disrupt and inspire.
We may use art therapy combined with creative thinking techniques or mindfulness practice and philosophy together with performance or music workshops.
Of prime importance to us is that we engage with others in ways that are safe and do not make people feel uncomfortable. This means, for example, we are able to deliver drama workshops to people who freeze in horror at the thought of taking part in a drama workshop or engage in mindfulness therapy with people who have difficulty being still for even a few moments.
Although the professionals who work in conjunction with Freeclarity hold a wide variety of beliefs, we all share a common understanding, that in order to create lasting positive external change, internal change is also necessary.
We believe that through the ongoing creation of new stories, everyone can harness the inner potentials that help exact lasting change. In this way, we find the possibilities in a Monday morning as opposed to the dread.
Stephen Givnan.