Your good name is the most important credential you’ll ever have.
Act with integrity in all things, that ben if it means short-term pain.
Build a reputation for honesty, dependability and trustworthiness.
Cindy Otis, former CIA analyst offers great advice for dealing with the overwhelming onslaught of scary world news:
Here are several risks to being overloaded with disturbing/negative content.
✔️ Complacency - becoming so used to the deluge that it all starts to seem normal.
✔️ Paralysis - that is, being so overwhelmed, you can't figure out what to do/how to move forward.
✔️ Crisis perspective - you get trapped in the Breaking News cycle where everything seems like a potentially world-ending crisis to you.
✔️ Depression/PTSD - you don't have to be on the frontline of a war have either/both. Disturbing content is absolutely a trigger.
There are also serious physical consequences to living a negative content overloaded life. I had a colleague who didn't know he had stage 4 brain cancer because the symptoms were the same as our very stressful careers--exhaustion, random fevers, stress, and dizziness.
So, what do you do? First, I strongly urge you not to ignore the news/current events. Ignorance is one reason we have this society. It won't make the problems go away & contributes nothing to their solving. Now that that's established, here's how to make it easier to handle:
1. TAKE ACTION. Volunteer for a food pantry, canvass for a political candidate, donate to a NGO, visit a sick friend. Seriously. Service of some kind in your community lets you be part of SOLUTIONS. You will see RESULTS when otherwise you'd feel helpless.
2. Conversely, for those who may take tip #1 to the extreme--know that you alone can't save the world. Accept your limits. You aren't a 7/11. You can't always be open. At the end of every day when I reached my limit, I silently told myself, "I've done what I can today."
(Note: Repeating that to myself did not stop me from feeling like I could have done more most days. But it was important to tell myself anyway because I am human. We are human. It's good we *feel* things.)
3. RESEARCH BEFORE PANICKING. Easier said than done, but everything will seem like crisis/earth-ending if you don’t know what has/hasn't happened before. If it has happened before, it's can be hugely comforting to know how it was resolved and/or what might happen next. (9/)
4. GET UP & MOVE. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, log out of Twitter. Go for a walk, sit outside, get some coffee, call a friend. CIA is full of ppl walking the building with a colleague/friend. There's a reason. Our brains & bodies need breaks from stressful content. (10/)
5. SET RULES. Because of my work at CIA, I had a rule--I only read fiction at home. I had enough reality at work. In the civilian world, I set blocks of time each day where I turn everything off--no news or social media. Let yourself recharge so you can keep fighting later. (11/)
6. AVOID DARK HOLES. (I'm sure there's a joke to be made about that.) It's easy to get sucked into the swirl of bad news. You watch a gruesome YouTube video and the next one is all queued up to play right after it. Focus on one issue at a time. Deal w/ it before moving on. (12/)
7. YOU NEED FUN. When there is suffering, war, despair, etc. around you, it's easy to feel guilty when you have fun, feel happy, have a good meal with friends. You NEED these things. You will be better able to do good in the world if you let yourself have these things. (13/)
8. TALK TO SOMEONE. Often, we curl inward socially when overwhelmed w/ negative content. It's a means of protection. One of the great things at CIA was that everyone else knew what you were going through. Whether it's therapy or talking to your person, talking helps.
You don’t have to have everything you want. Practice saying “no thank you” to dessert or passing on the purchase you’re considering. Benefits are plentiful: Build self-discipline (which is like a muscle) and you learn you’re really ok and often happier when you don’t indulge a “want.”
If you want people to believe you, trust you and be able to depend on you, then you must have integrity.
Integrity means that you tell the truth, don’t deceive or cheat, you keep your word and you pitch in to help with little things and big things without having to be asked.
Who are the people you know who have integrity?
Do you want to be a man of integrity?
Kitchen Commandment: She who cooks the dinner shall not clean up from dinner.
I don't want to raise any of you to take housework for granted. It's hard. It's unfair and not cool to expect anyone (parent, spouse, roommate, etc. )to wait on you.
You never know what people are going through. Depression, PTSD, anxiety could look like avoidance, anger, risk-taking, promiscuity, etc. Look out for friends, coworkers and loved ones who may be in pain. You don’t need to solve their problem, just allow for the possibility that they’re going through something. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt and not write off “bad” behavior as a character flaw. Offer a non-judgmental ear.
When you have no idea what you’re doing, just be kind. Be brave. Think critically and make the best decisions you can in the moment. If possible, find resources to learn what you need to know. Ask for help if help is available. Do your best and don’t sweat it.
Practice people skills: Firm handshake, introducing yourself, being courteous when encountering / being on receiving end of someone’s rude behavior, offering your seat (never sit while someone with gray hair, pregnant belly, any sort of injury or really anyone who is older or who works harder is standing.)
When making decisions or having a disagreement, it’s very easy to get stuck in defense of your position because we just feel so strongly about it. Without realizing it, we can discount good alternatives and or fail to see the strengths of other people’s viewpoints. As an exercise to avoid getting caught in this trap, make a habit of listing 3 reasons why you might be wrong. Stretch to accommodate the possibility that your strongly-held belief just may be wrong.
People always say “Be yourself.” That’s good advice but really what does it mean? I think it’s easier to explain what it DOESN’T mean:
When you’re being yourself you’re not pretending to be interested in something or someone you’re not.
You’re not doing something just to please someone else (or just to tick them off.) You’re not wearing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You’re not pretending to have fun when you’re not having fun. You’re not trying to impress anyone. You’re not trying to fade into the background. You’re not trying to change anything about yourself or someone else.
I think that’s a good start. What does “being yourself” mean to you?