Tag: depression

5/20/12 “Separation”

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about separation. That is, how we sometimes separate ourselves from others, including family, co-workers and friends.

All of us experience this sense of being separate from time to time. Sometimes it’s caused by a succession of failures, too much stress, or being out of sorts with family members or friends. Whatever the cause, when I feel disconnected from others, it is frequently accompanied by a state of depression and I experience a lot of negative thoughts:

“No one understands me.”
“Why do I have to do this all on my own?”
“No one likes me, so it won’t matter whether I show up or not.”
“I’m such a failure, I can’t do anything right.”
“I’m really an impostor here; if people really knew that I have no idea what I’m doing, I’d never have a job.”

All of these thoughts have the ring of separation to them. In these moments, I see myself as separate from the team, from my family, from my friends. I’m not like them. I’m different in some way.

When I work with teams, I often notice that someone on the team is separating themselves from the others. They may do this by not responding when asked to participate or by having the attitude that they know more than the rest of the group. If someone acts in an antagonistic or provocative way, it can separate him or her from the team. At the same time, feeling like a victim can separate a person from the whole. Even leaders who see themselves as powerful or authoritative can begin to feel separate from their teams. Whether a person sees him- or herself as special or insignificant, the results can be the same: separation.

This feeling of separateness is an illusion. Although we play different roles in our lives, we are all connected to one another. When we forget our connection to all other living beings, we start to get into trouble. I may think the Japanese tsunami last year was an event separate from me, but the remaining debris from that tsunami’s aftermath is about to show up on our west coast shores. I can judge my neighbors and feel like I’m better or smarter — until I need to call them for help. Will they judge me in return in that moment? What about when a fellow team member needs to pick up some of my job responsibilities when I’m out sick? I hope he or she won’t be feeling separate from me and will be able to see the importance of supporting me when I need it. Every action we take impacts someone else somewhere, somehow.

The best metaphor for this is the ocean and the wave. In our various roles, we show up as a wave. Sometimes waves are big and powerful, and other times, they roll calmly onto the shore. Waves can be bright and beautiful with white, frothy crests and deep blue colors or dark and grey with a slick surface. Just as we can be bright and beautiful or dark and grey, our various personalities show up as waves. Believing that our wave is separated from all the other waves can make us feel alone — but in reality, we are part of a huge ocean. That ocean is made of water and the water is what makes up the waves. Without the ocean, there is no wave. Without the rest of humanity, there is no one person.

This week, see whether you’ve separated yourself from others in some part of your life. Do you pride yourself in being different and, in turn, think you’re better than or less than others? How about with your family — are you the black sheep or the odd one or the best one? Do you separate yourself by spending most of your time alone? Do you not pay attention to others when you’re in a meeting and separate your attention away from everyone else? When you resist participating, what is it in you that thinks you’re not connected to everyone else? If you envision a sports team playing on the field, what if someone kicks the ball to their teammate and their teammate decides not to play anymore? Doesn’t the game stop? We are indeed each unique individuals, but it’s important to understand that what makes us special doesn’t need to separate us from others. In fact, that’s what makes teams so great — all of those unique qualities and strengths directed toward a common goal.

This week, appreciate how connected you are to others in all things. We were not put here to be alone and belonging to each other is one of the great gifts of humankind.

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 422-9249

1/25/10- “Beauty”

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge is about beauty: beauty in what we see, beauty in what we do, how we perceive beauty and the effect it has upon us.

I was thinking about this subject today because it was an incredibly beautiful day. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and days of brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine are few and far between from November to June. It’s a long, painful stretch of grey days, often with continuous rain or at least consistently cloudy skies. We do our best to combat the depression that can often come from day after day of rain, but there’s no doubt, it takes a toll on most of us. Even the most avid rain lovers start to complain when even at the end of May, it’s only 45 degrees and still raining.

Today it was 54 degrees and completely clear. I marveled at how blue the sky was, how bright the reflection of the sun on the water, the added lift the warmth gave to every person I saw who was walking around without a jacket or coat, secretly smiling to themselves, thinking that maybe spring was not so far away. All of this right smack dab in the middle of January. Miracles never cease.

Before that day, I had been a bit depressed by recent events: the death and destruction in Haiti, the recent Supreme Court ruling about corporate funding for political campaigns, mud slides in California, the health care bill seeming farther away than ever from passage, the occasional grief that still surfaces in me about my father’s death. I began to feel that the few forward steps we were all able to take last year had gotten reversed and we had been losing ground since Jan. 1.

Today was the complete opposite of that drudgery and depression because the sheer beauty of it lifted me far beyond the doldrums I has been experiencing. This is the true miracle of beauty: It fills us up to new heights, it inspires us, it makes us grateful in a moment for the pleasure we are experiencing.

Years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a boyfriend of mine. There just happened to be many beautiful women in the restaurant that evening, and it was almost impossible not to gaze at their faces, their bodies, the way they moved, what they were wearing. Whether you were male or female, you could not ignore the beautiful sights in the room. At one point, I became a little embarrassed that I was staring at a woman whose beautiful face was truly amazing to see. I said to my boyfriend, “Well, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” He gave me an appreciative smile and said, “No kidding!”

At that moment, a fairly homely woman came into the restaurant. I felt a little sorry for her. She was the ugly ducking amidst the beautiful swans. My boyfriend looked at her and said, “Isn’t it amazing? I’ve never looked at a woman who I couldn’t find in some way beautiful. Look at that woman’s nose: It’s perfectly shaped.” I couldn’t believe his comment. In all that beauty, he was commenting on the homeliest woman in the room. But when I looked at her more closely, I saw that she did have an incredibly beautiful nose.

This week, try noticing the beauty around you. Maybe it’s the curve of someone’s arm or the way a person’s eyes light up when smiling. Perhaps you see the beauty in the face of your spouse as he or she asks you how your day went, or your child’s particular way of showing you love. Try looking out the window more than a few times this week. Even in winter there is beauty: the shape of tree limbs without leaves, the way water reflects many different shades of grey or blue, how fire and heat glow in the fireplace. Perhaps you’ll notice the steam that rises from a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea and the beautiful patterns it makes as it curls up into the air.

If you haven’t done so in awhile, go to a place that showcases beauty, like an art museum or a park. Find your way to a place that fills you up with its beauty and be thankful for it. Sometimes to lift my spirits I walk into a florist shop and breathe in the lovely scents and gaze at the pretty arrangements.

Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Try noticing the beauty around you this week. I guarantee you, it will change your state and your attitude for the better.

Have a good week.


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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