Category Archives: Self-Esteem

Self-esteem coaching articles

How do we stop sexual harassment?

How do we stop sexual harassment?

Like many women, I too have experienced inappropriate sexual comments and “jokes” in the workplace. My first introduction to workplace sexual harassment happened when I was in my early twenties. I was excited about a new job that paid better than my last and gave me more responsibility.  I desperately wanted the position because I was living on my own and it might give me a chance at a better life.

It wasn’t long after I arrived that I was schooled about the uncomfortable treatment of female staff. I was told who to watch out for and given lessons on “the way things work around here.”  There were examples of back stabbing and strategic alliances within the office but nothing was as bad as the way some of the men treated women and the double standard within the organization.

Many of the uncomfortable looks, sexual innuendo and comments would come right after the guys would get back from their very extended lunch breaks at the strip bar down the street. (Female staff were chastised if they were even 10 minutes late from breaks) I hated taking anything to the desks of these guys after they returned back from lunch because I knew the stupid banter would be more ramped up than usual. The face of one co-worker is still in my memory as he was particularly gross and often cruel – especially if you didn’t smile and laugh at his comments.

Efforts by some long-time female staff members to talk with management about their male coworkers’ behaviour failed to change anything and my attempts to do the same got me on the bad list too. It was clear that this place had a lot of problems so eventually I quit.

How do we stop sexual harassment?

Establish Policies

Establishing policies is a necessity but policies aren’t enough. Most companies have codes of ethics and anti-harassment policies that are only strong if they are followed. Directing employee complaints to Management or a Human Resources Department can also be helpful as long as they’re not part of the problem.

Educate Staff

Some companies bring in educators to teach staff and management about sexual harassment. Facilitating workshops on civil communication, respect and empathy can work because not everyone has developed those skills or been given those tools early in life.

Contact Outside Agencies For Support

If talking with the harasser, management or supervisor hasn’t worked then consider registering complaints with Human Rights Commission, Union Representative,  Call Dial-A-Law for legal information or phone an Employment Lawyer directly. Reaching out to law enforcement agencies may be necessary depending on the severity of incidences.

Teach Your Children A Better Way

We have the possibility of changing all of this by teaching children about respect for self and others.

I also think it’s important for us to analyze how boys are introduced to women and sexuality. This can shape their understanding of who girls/women are, how they wish to be treated and appropriate language when speaking with and about girls/women.  Reinforcing positive and respectful behaviours now can change a generation.

Boys and men need to care about this issue just as much as women. Understand, identify and call it out when they see sexual harassment

Girls need to learn about the pivotal role the word “NO” will play in their life. Gavin De Becker said it best in his book The Gift of Fear – Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, when he wrote, “No” is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear is trying to control you. Harassers look for weakness and ways to control.

Building self-esteem and committing without apology to values is a solid step forward for girls. Above all girls and women can be assertive AND know that being a victim of sexual harassment is not their fault.

Back in my twenties I felt compelled to put up with so much because I needed a job and I’d been conditioned to believe this treatment was normal. I eventually developed my voice and began to flex my assertiveness (and occasional aggressive) muscle. It hasn’t always been easy but knowledge has become power.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO PREVENT OR STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

The Consequences Of Being Seen And Not Heard

The Consequences Of Being Seen And Not Heard

When I was a child there were strict rules around when to speak and when not to speak. Expressing opinion was not encouraged and how I felt was not considered relevant. I remember when company would visit I had no involvement in conversations unless asked to do so.

The intention was to teach discipline and respect which I’m sure at the time seemed liked a good idea but was that all there was to the message? It should be pointed out that this silence was imposed by my mother and she followed the teachings of her father.

I’ve spoken to many women over the years, professionally and personally,  who confess they didn’t have a voice in their own home. I have yet to meet a man who would say the same. Lately this topic surfaced again and that made me think, What are the consequences of such silence?

Whether we see it as a simple proverb,  a gender specific directive, a culturally accepted request or whatever, to be seen and not heard is not healthy.

I wouldn’t doubt that growing up without an appreciation of your voice, opinion or presence is why so many people find it difficult in the workplace to confidently advocated for themselves or verbally contribute in a way that would demonstrate their skills.

Within group settings I have had participants who experienced a visible or invisible reaction to the mere sound of their own voice. Later they shared with me why that it is so difficult to contribute to topics even though they want to  and so many times its attributed to learned silence.

This also doesn’t bode well for intimate relationships. People who have been conditioned to be seen and not heard often can be prey for abusive or highly dominant partners. That lack of voice as a child may create unsafe situations in adulthood.

There is hope and resources.

As a former “to been seen and not heard kid”, I look back on what helped me develop my communication skills and confidence.

  1. Mentors and good friends – people demonstrated to me the value of self-expression and how to develop MY voice.
  2. I reluctantly put myself in situations that had me use my voice and I reaped the benefits of learning.
  3. I forgave my mother for her role in passing along this opinion by recognizing her father and societies imprint was strongly influential.
  4. I protect my voice from those that seem to want to silence or overpower it and encourage others to do the same. You Are To Be Seen AND Heard
  5. I found an outlet for my voice in singing and writing. Creative expression might help you to find your voice.

Resource: Toastmasters Club is an international organization that can be very helpful in building confidence and your voice. Check them out.

The Power of Learning

The Power of Learning

For many of us who have been in our fields for a long time it is possible to become complacent and feel as if we’ve seen or know it all. It is for these very reasons that I feel compelled to put myself in situations where I can challenge or affirm my understanding of our world, the role of work or establishing why we are the way we are.

In the last year I have participated in three very powerful events that impacted my work and to be quite honest also influenced my perception of people, resources and tools that are often associated with the helping professions – including my own.

At times I feel like a child who is learning something new and I am so proud to have grasped the concept. Other times what I’m participating in causes me to reevaluate so much of what I thought I knew.

In my experience the times when I felt the power of learning so profoundly was when I registered for things that appeared to be beyond my expertise. Sticking within my own wheelhouse is comforting as I can expand on what I know already and feel affirmed by my right answers. But, when I put myself outside of my familiar zone that’s a whole other sensory experience.

In the last year I have had three mind opening events come my way that I am grateful for and I want to share this with you.

The first was an online symposium on Translating Aboriginal Traditions to Employment. Without going into the specifics I just want to share how hearing the stories of those that participated impacted me not only on a professional level by also on a spiritual level.

I had taken cultural training courses and spent many years working with people from all over this country and world. Having sensitively to cultures comes with the territory – or so we think. But really I believe I have been naive to so many aspects of tradition and its role in employment. The sharing of stories surrounding residential schools, culture, community, ceremony, family and trauma were gifted to all of us and so our learning went far beyond employment.

Next I attended a conference on Ending Violence. Again the presenters expanded my understanding of the impact of violence while providing useful tools and resources that far exceeded my expectations.

For the last two days I attended a workshop facilitated by Dr. Lori Haskell – Working with Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly valuable this was! What I learned will positively impact my work with clients who have experienced trauma but it also hit close to home. I took away information that changes how I view myself and others in my personal life. The learning went deep, not just through the speaker, but also I had the privilege of learning from those that were at my table.

So, why share all of this with you?

Because sometimes we think we know it all. Sometimes we think we are too small to be effective. Sometimes we might be afraid to learn new things and sometimes people may question why we are even interested.

Please don’t let that stop you because everything that you create begins with the moment you said YES to learning.

 

A Purpose For Doubt

A Purpose For Doubt

Does it feel like you are living in tough times right now? Do you personally have doubt about your ability to cope with challenges in your life? Did you know that your doubt can help open the door to more critical thinking?

Tough times bring multiple things into focus and for many their first instinct is to hope it all goes away.  Doubt emerges on a cognitive level but on an emotional level our lack of belief doesn’t need to be debilitating.

Doubt can be the next motivator and an opportunity to strategize. How? Well, I will give an example:

I took a course once that was really tough. I questioned why I was even doing the course and doubted my ability to complete it. Armed with multiple reasons why I was not a good student, and a history of procrastination to wear as a badge, I believed it was going to be impossible to get assignments done.

Slowly but surely I pulled in support from various people who would help me stay on track. I looked for examples in my own life when I overcame an obstacle or challenged myself to do something I had never done before. My strategy was to plug away on the easier content and assignments first and build up my confidence to tackle the next level. Before I knew it I was done.

Doubt helped me to look critically at myself and encouraged me to find internal and external resources. The opportunity to know more and to believe that my narrative could change from being an average struggling student to a graduate of a program, opened up my awareness of what is possible.

Doubt has a purpose and we should acknowledge its role in our personal development.

Happy International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day! The significance of International Women’s Day may be different depending on where you live, how old you are and how you are treated but its value is not diminished.

According to the Oxford Dictionary EQUALITY is, The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.”

Do you feel that as a woman you have attained equality? OR If you are a man reading this blog post, Do you think that the women and girls in your life have equal status, rights and opportunities?

It is because of the obstacles still positioned in front of women that such an event becomes important. History – as we are taught – has not been very good at recording the stories of women. Their role in the development of our countries has been largely ignored. With this in mind, the organization of women has become necessary since the early 1900’s.

We do have so much to celebrate in life but this is one day when women can feel less alone with their challenges. It is good to honor each other and those that came before us.

There was a time when a women’s appearance in a public space was mostly limited to being on the arm of her man. Oh, have the times changed.

There are those that will question why we would need to gather and celebrate women.

It is because their achievements – despite what has been stacked against them – need validation. It is because the faces we see today may inspire the next generation of women to reach their full potential. The testimony we hear today may shape tomorrows laws. There can be one defining moment in a girls or woman’s life when she feels most powerful and it might be TODAY that such an experience occurs.

 

Status of Women Canada

10 Self Care Tips for a Toxic Workplace

Following up on my post Working in a toxic environment – The Clash of Personalities, here are my Top Ten Picks for Self Care:

  1. Take a walk – In your lunch break take a short walk. Decompress from the stress of the day.
  2. Don’t eat lunch with the crowd – If you can eat your lunch in your car, or on a bench outside or even your private office, do it! Being around the lunchroom chatter isn’t always a healthy way to spend your break.
  3. Exercise at the gym – Do you have a gym nearby? Sign up. Take 20 minutes to stretch, practice yoga, lift weights or walk on the treadmill a few days per week. This will shift your mind, body and spirit.
  4. Sit in the sun and listen to nature – If you have a park, roof-top deck, or anywhere to commune with nature then use it. This is a reminder to heal, be still and connect with something outside of yourself.
  5. Listen to music – Maybe you have the ability to quietly listen to music at your workplace. Find the website of your favourite radio station and connect to their audio. Wear one earbud (keeping the other ear free) and listen to tunes on your iPhone.
  6. Journal – Write about your thoughts, feelings and reactions. Journals help to clear the clutter from our mind.
  7. Breathe and shake it off – Take that breath. Shake out those muscle that clench from the pressure. Stay calm and carry on.
  8. Eat healthy – Stress on the job can either make you crave unhealthy comfort food or decrease your appetite. Feed your body properly and it will help you through the day.
  9. Acknowledge your accomplishments – When you are around toxic people or in a negative work environment what is said and felt can begin to take you over. Don’t let what has happened define you. Think about what you are proud of in life and work.
  10. Practice forgiveness – This extends to self and others. It will take some effort and is not intended to condone bad behaviour. Practiced well it can free you of the fear and anger that envelops your work relationships.

 

 

Non-retouched Photo of Cindy Crawford- Real Meaningful Beauty

An untouched photo of Cindy Crawford has made headlines mainly because we rarely see a woman at the age of 48, let alone a former supermodel, gracing the pages of anything without touch ups. (click on pic.twitter link)

 Cindy Crawford’s April spread in Marie Claire features 100% non-retouched photos. Take a bow Ms. C. pic.twitter.com/ttQz2BcRfg

The leaked picture was originally from a 2013 Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America cover story. Ms. Crawford’s lack of muscle tone, dimpling skin and all the rest that came with aging was put out there for all to see. Without the benefit of Photoshop she became real and words of thanks rang out across the globe.

There are rumours that she leaked it herself but no matter how it came to be I had to wonder….

Does it really take a supermodel’s “leaked” picture to make us feel better about our aging bodies?

Will this have any affect on magazines who are most interested in trying to manufacture the perfect woman for readers to ooh and aah over? or Will they consider opting for a wider definition of beauty?

The fact that so much press has circulated around this one photo shows that women are still looking for some sort of validation. When someone who is seen as an icon of female sensuality and beauty shatters the illusion that she is perfect we are moved to do a happy dance. It is not like the rest of us are going to get the same opportunity to showcase our wrinkles and flab as a means to challenge beauty myths. So, here comes Cindy Crawford to the rescue, showing the world that an aging woman has meaningful beauty!

I’m glad to see this photo too but it is a sad fact that we will likely never feel entirely comfortable in our skin. To boldly wear our scars and wrinkles as a sign of a life well lived. We retouch so much of who we are and blame others for our inability to make peace with our bodies. We are our own worst enemies.

What this photo says to me is that beauty may be considered subjective but it is most powerful when we dare to see it in ourselves.

 

What’s Next for You?

When I went to write this post I was thinking I need to offer something centered around your career or give you some semi profound tips for transitioning in life. What I realized after several lines of typing and erasing is that there is no magic formula and all the assessments have been written ad nauseum.

Go to any self-help section and you’ll find a plethora of guides to help you uncover talents, skills or anything else you want to know about yourself. If that’s the trip you want to take then all the more power to you.  I bet that just when you think you are finished unpacking the layers of yourself then more ‘stuff’ will be waiting to emerge.

What’s next is already in motion. Even when you feel nothing is happening, something is.  I can’t even begin to add up how many times my life shifted not because I consciously sought out someone or something but quite simply all things aligned. That doesn’t mean to say I sat on my butt letting life flow but I certainly can’t take full credit for where I ended up.

Sometimes what came next for me was a swift kick in that butt of mine. Other times it was one conversation that changed my world view or a brave choice to pick door number two. What’s next flowed from the belief that there is life after whatever was happening or a job that better matched my lifestyle.

I have complete faith in us all to find what lies beneath layers of doubt and confusion. By all means seek out people and things that aid in answering your questions as this opens up the possibility of a fresh perspective! I will offer my two bits…. try going into the new year with the following:

Hope

Purpose

Patience with self

Compassion for others

A willingness to learn and…

A profound sense that nothing is certain

Happy New Year!

 

Hiring a personal fashion consultant

About a month ago I hired Michelle Addison to come in to my home and do a basic cleanse of my wardrobe. This was particularly helpful because…

1. I finally parted with clothes that really needed to be donated or consigned

2. I gained an education on what is working for me and what isn’t

3. I now shop differently for clothing

4. I feel more like me with an increased confidence and love of my style

Having said all that, I want to be honest and say this service was an investment on my part. Unlike many socialites, celebrities and fashionistas that probably have the means to hire a personal stylist I had to justify in my mind that this was worth a portion of my pay cheque. It was and I would highly recommend this to anyone either as a gift to self or gift to someone they love who is struggling to feel good in their clothes.

Where this got a little out of control was when I met Michelle at Hudson’s Bay City Centre in downtown Vancouver. When we talked before she had mentioned there were great sales on a the Bay right now and so it would be a good time to meet where she could provide free personal styling. I poked around a week or so before and noticed the seasonal sales were in progress and thought, Wow, this is actually going to be fun and within my budget!

I arrived, went to THE ROOM on the second floor and was escorted to a changing room area that I assume is exclusive for this service. The first thing I noticed was Michelle, beautifully polished and trendy as ever, and then I noticed a rack of clothes and accessories. I switched my head from work to me time and quickly realized the magnitude of my good fortune. The first outfit was carefully thought out and ready for me to try on and once I stepped out of the room I was in love.

This love grew with multiple outfits and like a good student I carefully committed to memory what and why this works. At different points when I closed the changing room door I took a brief moment again to think about this opportunity and the likelihood that it will not happen this way again. This was a first, (different from being in a store with a great sales person) and the joy that comes from experiencing such personalized service is unexplainable. This was not lost on me because I had just come from a place where women have never experienced such attention and I couldn’t help but wish I could give them this gift.

Here’s the down side to this service… I overspent. There were only maybe one or two items on sale, the rest were high-end prices. I felt a little duped in the previous mentioning of sale and now she was placing regular priced items like $150 belts to $340 blouses in front of me. It seemed advantageous to her and not so much for me. However, I’m in THE ROOM and I’m working with someone who has picked perfectly for me and I can see in her world this is no longer extravagant.

Shopping again

My advice to you if you are thinking about hiring a personal fashion consultant or stylist is do your homework:

1. Check out their website to get an idea of their philosophy about fashion, who their clients might be and who they are. There is a fair bit of  branding and PR but most of it will likely be true and that can lead to the next step.

2. Talk to the stylist by phone or meet to discuss their services. They will ask questions and you may have a few of your own.

3. Establish your budget. What I learned from this, is that it is important to communicate what you can afford. Given free rein both consultant and client can take this experience from pleasurable to regrettably costly.Trips to return items you love can be heart breaking.

4. If budget is your problem then see the value in a consultation but find ways to get what you want through online deals, consignment or thrift store purchases. For instance: A Helmet Lang wool tuxedo blazer looked fabulous on me! It was $575. I thought it will be an investment piece as the style pairs well with pants, jeans or skirts. When I went to Turnabouts Consignment Store I managed to find the exact style, by a different designer, minus wool fabric and hidden button, for $25.99. Guess which one is hanging in my closet?

5. Upscale consignment stores often provide fashion consultations to customers. One such store is REWIND Consignment in South Surrey. In a recent discussion with one of the staff I was told that for under $30 (price to be confirmed) Bianca and Alex will book an appointment time with you for a personal consultation. Contact your local consignment store to see if they offer a similar service or if you want to travel out the sunny South Surrey go to REWIND.

If you want to build your self-esteem, need to connect with your stylish side, have been feeling worn out or have a wardrobe that no longer wows you then I say,

Invest in hiring a personal fashion consultant ~ Internally and externally you will reap the benefits.