Jim is a colleague and occasional coaching client. He gave me permission to tell this story.
When I started the following piece with Jim, I realized that he was in a seriously stuck mental state.
Often times when people are feeling intense negative emotions we get stuck and find it hard to get ourselves out of them. This is because when negative emotions come up, the cerebral cortex begins to shut down. Most of the mental processing moves to older parts of the brain in preparation for the fight and flight response. We literally loose access to much of our creative and problem solving abilities.
Jim was feeling depressed about how often his organization’s management above him has kept changing directions recently. He sounded depressed on the phone so I invited him to go to lunch.
Jim was in this situation whenever he was at work, or even thought about work. But he wasn’t in a place to quit, or slack off, or even look for another job. He needed to get to a place where he could feel good enough again to at least take care of some immediate business.
On the way back to his office he confessed that he had a lot to do but was so overwhelmed with it all that he hadn’t really been able to get himself to do what he needed to do for the past few days. He couldn’t take a vacation, but he also couldn’t keep sitting at work doing nothing. Deadlines were creeping up on him quickly. His project was seriously behind schedule.