Something is Different
As a global consultant, I (Donna) have worked from a virtual office for 20 years, with LOTS of travel. This kind of career has suited me well, blending intense people engagement with stimulating alone time affording creativity and thought leadership. There have been times when things got WAY out of balance—too much travel, or too much alone time. But I have always been part of communities that involve providing and receiving support, helping nurture and nudge me back into balance. They stimulate me, excite me, and stimulate generosity and gratitude.
Right now, the home office is feeling a little confining. An overnight spring storm took out my internet. As if the move to virtual WITH video were not enough, something about only connecting through audio feels REALLY isolating. Interesting that it is not ACTUALLY different—I conduct audio calls all the time. Today, it’s bugging me. I want to feel more connected.
My Brain and How it is Reacting
Even though my logical brain knows my environment and how I continue to work is really not different, my body and how I’m feeling says the opposite. Why?
Well, there is a reason for this, and it has to do with the way our brain is hardwired to work. First, we are actually designed as social creatures – yes even the introverts out there! All this means is that we need a certain amount of social interaction to maintain balance within our brain. How much and how we get it is unique to us. Second, our brain is also designed to look for threat. In fact, our brain scans for threat 5 times a second! As social creatures, we look for additional threats besides physical threats. One such threat is autonomy. If we have learned and developed our habits around a certain level of autonomy, and that autonomy changes, this can be threatening to us.
I think this is what happened to me. My brain feels like I no longer had a choice about how I work and now it is an issue. Also, how I interact and my choices for interactions are no longer meeting my particular social needs.
The Aspen Grove Knows
The aspen grove analogy has always fascinated me. The Pando Aspen grove in Utah is “one tree” that covers 106 acres weighs 6000 tons and has 40,000 trunks. This stand of aspen trees is a singular life force interconnected underground by an extensive root system. During intense fires, the organism survived underground, with its root system sending up new stems in the aftermath of each wildfire, new trees sprouting when conditions are right. Sick trees heal through the healthy energy of others and the dying trees fuel rebirth. Sounds like a model community to me and I am inspired by this especially now.
What Can I Do About This?
Curt Thompson suggests, “Transformation requires a collaborative interaction, with one person emphatically listening and responding to the other so that the speaker has the experience, perhaps for the first time, of “feeling felt” by another. The interpersonal interaction exposes these functions of the mind and facilitates the integration of various layers of neural structures and brain systems, which in turn creates new neural networks.” In other words, you become new!
What I am learning is that I need to be intentional about new ways to connect and put myself back in the driver’s seat. I am directing intention towards growing myself and others. I am connecting in new ways. Sometimes it is a little weird, but honestly, I find I am getting more energy and connection the more I try new things to really connect in a way that matters to me. Maybe I am starting to create my own grove—or drawing energy from others?
What have you experienced? What have you found that helps you? Please share your experiences and contribute to this root system. Your energy, along with others, will help us all to thrive--together.
In this pandemic time, what is our new root system? If we cannot stay physically connected, how can we adapt to help each other thrive? Our Disruptive Element team is inviting our clients and partners to create new ways of connecting. We are strong enough together to create community despite current circumstance. We can be the aspen grove!