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Isolation, Shame, and Guilt. And Grief. [en]

Isolation, Shame, and Guilt. And Grief. [en]

[fr] Réflexions sur la honte, la culpabilité, l'isolement et le deuil. La honte nous isole et nous laisse seuls avec nos peines et nos problèmes, nous privant de l'apport extérieur qui est souvent la clé pour avancer.

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the professional turning-point I’m at. What allowed me to write it (and by doing that, become “unstuck” about it) was that in the course of my phone call with Deb, I realised that the situation I was in was not my fault. This freed me of the guilt and shame I was feeling, which allowed me to break my isolation. On a different scale, this is very similar to what I went through regarding childlessness.

So, a few words on how I see this relationship between guilt, shame, and isolation (and grief, too, actually).

Threatening storm and lonely tree

I’m sure I’ve talked about this before (but where, oh where): in today’s world, we are in charge of our lives. Overall, I think it is a good thing. What happens to us is our doing. We are not hapless puppets in the hands of God or Destiny.

But it is not the whole truth. There are forces in this world that are bigger than us, and to deny it is to give ourselves more power over the world, others, and ourselves than we actually have. Accidents happen, and there isn’t always somebody to blame. This is also where the difference between “things I can change, and things I can’t” comes in. The things we can’t change can be part of who we are, but they can also be bigger than us as individuals: social, political, economic contexts and the like.

Some people think they are more powerless than they are. Others feel responsible for things that are out of their reach. For the former, recognising that they are responsible for things and make choices they were blind to can be empowering. For the latter (I count myself among them), it is the opposite: feeling responsible for things you are powerless against is guilt-inducing.

Unhealthy guilt is something else again.  This occurs when we establish unreasonably high standards for ourselves with the result that we feel guilty at absolutely understandable failure to maintain these standard.  This kind of guilt is rooted in low self-esteem and can also involve a form of distorted self-importance where we assume that anything that happens is our responsibility; it may come down hard on anything perceived as a mistake in our lives and has the added anti-benefit of often applying to other people too, so that we expect too much from family and colleagues as well as ourselves.

Source (emphasis mine)

Failing at something you believe should be in your control to succeed at. This is what it’s about. Failing to find a partner. Failing to conceive a child. Failing to sustain your business.

Guilt and her sister shame step in, and with them, isolation. Shame shuts you up.

So, discovering that the dating field may very well be stacked against you, that being single doesn’t have to be your fault or a sign that you’re broken, that 1 in 4 women of your age group do not have children (not by choice for 90% of them), that other pioneering freelancers in your line of work are facing an increasingly competitive and specialised market requiring them to adjust their positioning and sales strategy, well, it kind of shifts the picture from “gosh, I’m failing everywhere” to “oh, maybe I’m not actually doing anything deeply wrong after all”.

Now, “not my fault” does not imply giving up all agency. We remain responsible of our lives — of what we do with what is given to us. I may not be able to make my ovaries any younger, but I could think about whether I want to adopt (I don’t). I can think about how involved I want to get in finding a partner (move? go through a matchmaking agency?) or if I’m actually happy enough on my own to take my chances with the opportunities life (and Tinder) might throw at me. I cannot change the market I work in, but I can work on my sales and marketing skills to make sure I communicate efficiently to my clients what value I can bring them (not my strong suit so far).

Solutions to challenging situations rarely appear spontaneously in the vacuum of isolation. They require interacting with other human beings. Often, the first step out of the isolation shame and guilt bring about is opening up to a friend. And another. And another.

Blogging and Facebook are optional 😉

A word about being “out”, however. When shame and guilt wrap themselves around something, there is often some kind of loss at stake. Even when it is something the do with our professional lives: it can be the loss of a job, of a career, or even of face, in a way, when something we believed in doesn’t work out the way we hoped.

We deal with loss through grief. Grieving requires company. And company doesn’t come knocking when you lock yourself up.

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Second "Back to Blogging" Challenge [en]

Second "Back to Blogging" Challenge [en]

[fr] Un court article par jour pendant 10 jours, histoire de reprendre le rythme et de se souvenir qu'écrire un article sur un blog, ça peut être vite fait.

Do you have a blog?

Have you been really bad about blogging of late, like me?

I bring to you, for the second time, a 10-day “Back to Blogging” challenge.

Starting tomorrow (Monday), I will write a short blog post each day. Quick and dirty. Get something out the door. I expect to spend maximum 30 minutes on it.

Feel inspired to join in? Hashtag: #back2blog.

(Last time around I published links to all the posts of the day at the bottom of each article. It took way more time than the actual blogging! If anybody has ideas about how to automate this, I’m all ears.)

The winning team!

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Back to Blogging Challenge Wrap-Up [fr]

Back to Blogging Challenge Wrap-Up [fr]

[en] Retour sur le challenge "back to blogging".

So, a good ten days after the end of the Back to Blogging challenge, how are things going?

Well, first of all, I’ve been putting off writing this article because I’m setting myself constraints which make it a big pile of work. For example, the last two days of the challenge I was too busy to link to the articles by other participants (arguably the longest part of publishing those posts). So I’m thinking “ah, I need to do the wrap-up, but before that I should complete those articles”. Well, nope. Obviously it’s not going to happen. Maybe somebody else feels like putting a list together for those two days?

I’ve also been thinking “ah, I should make a list here of all the bloggers who successfully did the 10 days”. Participating is great, and I’m sure many of those who did not complete the challenge got something out of it, but hey, sticking to it is even greater!

So, congratulations to all those of you who stuck through the whole ten days. I’d love to hear feedback on what participating did for you!

For me, even though I feel myself sliding back into “long blog post” mode (this is an attempt to break that) I kind of got into the habit of “a post a day”, which means that when I skip a day, I notice it, and blog the next day. So I’ve been publishing pretty much every couple of days I’d say, which is pretty good.

The other thing I got out of the challenge is a sense of community amongst bloggers — something I hadn’t felt for years and really miss from the early days of blogging. I was really amazed at the sheer number (about 20!) of people who took on the challenge!

At the root of this sense of community, in my opinion, is reading what other people write. A blogger is not an island. In my last post musing about what makes a blog a blog, one of the criteria that comes up is that a blog is in the network. It links to others, is linked to, commented upon, the blogger has contacts with other bloggers or readers. A blog cannot thrive in a vacuum.

Let’s try and keep that alive, shall we? Or we’ll be overrun by the fashion bloggers 😉

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Bloggy Friday, #back2blog, et l'eclau [fr]

Bloggy Friday, #back2blog, et l'eclau [fr]

[en] Motivating these days: Bloggy Friday, still going strong after all these years; #back2blog challenge, picked up by 20 or so bloggers; and eclau, the coworking space I manage in Lausanne, which turns 4 today.

Je fais partie de ces personnes qui vit sa vie en ayant le sentiment de ne jamais avoir assez de temps. Oh, je suis lucide. J’ai autant de temps que tout le monde, je sais que c’est plutôt que j’ai du mal à prioriser, hiérarchiser, décider, me frustrer.

Like a crazy hoarder I mistake the root cause of my growing mountain of incomplete work. The hoarder thinks he has a storage problem (when he really has a ‘throwing things away problem’). I say I am ‘time poor’ as if the problem is that poor me is given only 24 hours in a day. It’s more accurate to say… what exactly? It seems crazy for a crazy person to use his own crazy reasoning to diagnose his own crazy condition. Maybe I too easily add new projects to my list, or I am too reluctant to exit from unsuccessful projects. Perhaps I am too reluctant to let a task go, to ship what I’ve done. They’re never perfect, never good enough.

On Task Hoarding and ToDo Bankruptcy (Leon Bambrik)

Donc, je fais plein de trucs, et pas juste des trucs qui rapportent de l’argent, et ces temps, j’avoue être particulièrement motivée par ces “activités non lucratives”.

Le Bloggy Friday continue son bonhomme de chemin après toutes ces années — on était une douzaine hier soir. J’ai pris conscience il y a quelques mois que malgré l’échelle assez modeste de cette rencontre (entre 5 et 10 personnes par souper, une fois par mois), elle avait permis à de belles amitiés et des relations d’affaires de naître, au fil des années. C’est ce genre de chose qui me motive à continuer.

Sur un coup de tête, j’ai lancé le “Back to Blogging Challenge” (#back2blog) qu’une vingtaine de personnes (dépassant toutes mes espérances!) est en train de relever. Il y a une super énergie, on lit les articles des autres, on commente… cette excitation palpable me rappelle mes premières années de blogueuse. Ça me fait particulièrement plaisir de voir qu’il y tant des blogueurs chevronnés que débutants qui y prennent part (y compris une poignée d’étudiants de la formation SAWI sur les médias sociaux!) et qu’on y blogue en au moins cinq langues!

Finalement l’eclau (Espace Coworking LAUsanne), qui fête ses 4 ans aujourd’hui et se porte extrêmement bien: grande variété de professions représentées, personnes lumineuses et passionnées, excellente entente et riches échanges entre les coworkers, bon équilibre entre “possibilité de travailler” et “possibilité de socialiser”, et un lunch mensuel qui commence à prendre son rythme de croisière et trouver sa place dans nos vies.

Merci à vous tous sans qui ces petites activités communautaires n’existeraient pas!

#back2blog challenge (5/10):

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10-Day "Back to Blogging" Challenge [en]

10-Day "Back to Blogging" Challenge [en]

For the next ten days, starting tomorrow (Tuesday), I’m going to write a post a day. I’ll keep it short: blogging used to be quick and dirty, and somewhere between the arrival of Facebook and Twitter, posts have started growing into long essays that take hours to write.

How short is short? Roughly a screenful. Not more. I have a ton of ideas to blog about, and view this as an exercise in concision, as well as a way to get myself blogging again — which I seem to periodically need to do.

I expect that each post will take me under 30 minutes to write — at the most under an hour.

Care to join me? Let me know and I’ll put your name here and link to your posts as they come out. Hashtag: #back2blog. Get your blogging pals on board!

Rising to the challenge:

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