Navigating Your Landmines

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence”
~Simon & Garfunkel.

You know it’s there. The vulnerability you wish you didn’t have. The way you let certain people or situations trigger you to retreat, eat, react, or otherwise misbehave. The emotions and thoughts you keep in your mental basement, door closed.

If you were perfect and always did the right thing, your actions wouldn’t embarrass you. Except you’re not perfect, you’re human and as result emotionally complex.

What can you do when your less-than-ideal self rears its ugly head, hijacks your good judgment, and sabotages your efforts?

The answer is easier than trying for perfection. Don’t hide from or cover up your flaws. Look yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself the truth. Then change what you don’t like.

Remember when you were little and scared of what lurked in the dark? If you remained frozen in bed, the shadows grew. You heard noises. Your breathing tightened, even stopped.

If you reached out and turned on the light, you saw that things weren’t as scary as you’d imagined. Shine light on your weaknesses; you’ll find they lose potency.

Do fears grip you? Name them. Hold them up and shake them. Pick one, and decide, if you weren’t afraid of ___, what would you do? Perhaps you sit in Zoom meetings and don’t speak when you don’t understand what’s proposed. Write a question in the chat box. It could be as simple as “Could you give more of an explanation for what you’d like us to achieve?”

Does a certain type of coworker or supervisor trigger you? Could you react in a positive or different way to him/her? Perhaps you shrink inside as a passive-aggressive sniper criticizes you. What if you turned the tables and asked, “I’m not sure I understood your comment; what exactly did you mean?”

What if you don’t? The flaws you won’t admit run you. You leave yourself vulnerable to being unexpectedly triggered by people, events, and situations. What stays in your mental basement becomes an anchor, keeping you from moving forward into a better version of yourself.

The song plays on.

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence”
~Simon & Garfunkel.

© 2020, Lynne Curry with special credit to Paul Simon, 1964.

Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.

Note: I began writing this post several weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised in January when a Dr. Eric Perry complimented one or two of my other posts. I checked out his blog, and noticed he had a more psychological/therapeutic approach to the “shadow” topic, but had thought to include the same Simon & Garfunkel lyrics. You might enjoy his post, https://drericperry.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/do-you-know-your-shadow-side/

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2 thoughts on “Navigating Your Landmines

  1. I’ve navigated several tragedy landmines by always looking for something positive. I listen to positive words and I speak positive words. I can say positive words about the person who did the most damage to my life. I walked away from the relationship, but being able to find something positive about the person made surviving much easier. Doing what I can to prevent similar landmines from being laid also makes my life easier.

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