Work Trauma and the World

trauma work Dec 09, 2022

My work in coaching revealed some common themes: the workplace is ageist/sexist/racist/ableist, the workplace is toxic, the workplace contributes to trauma. I met far too many divorcing women who dreaded the thought of going back to work; women who wanted to go back to work but were blocked by ageist gatekeepers, and women and men who had been in the workforce all along and could not wait to get out of it. I also spent much of COVID walking my dog in my leafy suburb filled with Fortune 500 C-Suite types and saw what work stress was doing to them and their families: substance use issues, emotional abuse, racism/misogyny/transphobia, anger that spilled into the community.

You pull a thread here and find it attached to the rest of the world.

Rather than helping my clients navigate work systems that were never meant for them, or helping them to take on entrepreneurial risk they never wanted simply because corporate life was so hostile, I wondered if it was possible to change the system instead?

I wanted to find out who was doing things differently. Is it possible to make money and not turn into a monster? I read and made calls and took classes and connected with the wide range of people made possible by Zoom.

Mostly. I listened.

I learned that there are some amazing ways of designing work that is not harm causing and that brings out the best in people, not the worst. Work does not have to mean the extractive capitalist burnout world that is obsessed with shareholder value. It can be regenerative and heart-centered. And yes, it can still turn a profit.

Most of the thought leadership in this space is not from business schools or the Fortune 500. It's coming from medical professionals, Elders, NGOs, Gen Z entrepreneurs, unions, teaching faculties, social workers, community organizers, authors, and academics. It's as much about unlearning as it is about learning.

I plan to use this space to share some of what I'm discovering. If you are working differently, I'd love to amplify what you do.

Rather than trying to create habits and hacks to bend ourselves around a world that was never designed for our success, let's create workplaces meant for us.

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