Not Everything is a Face-Eating Bear
Updated: Jan 17
The most frequent lament I hear these days is, “I’ve never been this stuck. I’ve never been this tired. I’ve never been this uninspired and unmotivated. I can’t get anything done.”
It’s hard to be aspirational when you’re feeling mired, and for professionals accustomed to high-level performance and achievement, this experience is unsettling - even frightening. It feels like something has been irreparably broken.
It also is normal and expected.
While coaching is not therapy, great coaching can be incredibly therapeutic. Effective coaching through and beyond the trauma of these times is a subspecialty skillset that can be learned. It requires an expanded recognition and understanding about the nature of trauma and its multivariate presentations, as well as intention and practice.
In medical school we learn that the dose makes the poison. The ’20-’21 Tridemic has been long, chronic exposure to high-dose, unrelenting toxic stress.
There is a compounding impact of Big T traumas, little t traumas, and acute spikes on a chronic, high intensity baseline toxicity. Even those who entered this year with tremendous capacity, scaffolded supports, and deep reservoirs are On Empty.
On Empty shows up as brain fog, decision fatigue, overloaded inboxes, delinquent charting, and short-tempered interactions and encounters that are both bewildering and frustrating.
On Empty has a lot of names: Exhaustion. Stuckness. Fogginess. Joylessness. Decision-fatigue. Fear.
On Empty is Exhaustion.
Did I say exhaustion already? It bears repeating.
This also bears repeating: Trauma primes us for trauma.
The brain is a wonderfully complex, meaning making machine. It’s also "metabolically efficient” (aka lazy) and will divert to the path of least resistance whenever possible - particularly under threat. At this moment in time, our threat detection systems have been so activated for so long it is becoming difficult to distinguish between a Face-Eating Bear and a Cute Little Chipmunk.
This is a problem.
The neuroendocrine cascade that activates life-saving, fight-flight reactions -- and protects us from a real Face-Eating Bear -- becomes health-damaging if switched on indefinitely.
Prolonged trauma exposure can leave us so primed that we begin reacting to even Cute Little Chipmunk as if it were a Face-Eating Bear. If our nervous system never down-regulates, we never rest, and our reactions continue to compound and amplify. This is not benign.
(also, we look and feel a little foolish fighting, fleeing, freezing or submitting to a damn chipmunk…)
Trauma-mitigation coaching helps clients recognize these patterns, differentiate, down-regulate, step into choice, solve for now and get aspirational about the future.
Physicians and providers, DEI professionals, educators, CEOs, and institutional leaders are all past capacity. This is normal. This is expected.
Are you a professional looking for highly effective, deeply empathic coaching into your next stage? Connect with us today for a free discovery call.
Are you an experienced coach looking for leading edge, subspecialty training and tools that will enhance your skill and confidence in moving with clients through the trauma of these times? Sign up for Lodestar’s ICF Accredited Trauma-Mitigation Master Class.
The greatest casualty of high dose, compounding trauma and toxicity is our capacity to connect with one another.
The antidote is in the basics: Naming. Normalizing. Connection. Community. Choice.
Rest and Restoration help, too.
This is not a time to pivot. We don’t need more transactional encounters. This is a time for reflective, relational, and aspirational work.
Play. Connect. Breathe.
And don’t forget to hydrate…