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July 2014




Can You Learn From Your Emotions?

"Listen to sadness with special attention. It always speaks to matters of importance."

… Julio Olalla (b. 1945) Master Ontological Coach ("The Oracle of Coaching") 

Human beings live a rich emotional life. Indeed it is hard to imagine life without emotions for it is our emotional states such as joy, sadness, frustration and pride that provide the colour of life and make it worth living.

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When our emotions are serving us well, they help us quickly interpret situations and respond appropriately. Our emotional responses draw us to certain people and situations and push us away from others and, as such, they form the basis for our decision making.

Most people have some level of awareness of their emotional states and know when they are happy, sad and so on. Yet for the vast majority of people their emotions are just there. They live with them and they do not think there can be any other way. If they are angry, then they are right to be angry and the anger runs them. When they are happy, they have something about which to be happy and happiness runs them. These people are at the mercy of their emotional responses and our newspapers are littered with the sad tales this can bring.

Yet our emotional states can be far more helpful in life than simply pointing us in the best direction. They can be a deep source of learning about ourselves and others. We can do this by bringing our emotions into language. What we term a "linguistic reconstruction".

In the process of reconstructing an emotion, we start with an event. Something has happened to trigger the emotion. We can then identify how we have interpreted this and what action it is leading us towards. Such a process can be helpful in two ways. It can help us understand and unpack how we feel the way we do, leading us to an understanding of our basic beliefs, prejudices and preferences. It can also help us develop strategies to take actions that may serve us better in this and similar situations.

Take anger as an example. A reconstruction may go something like this:

"My friend Peter has once again broken a promise he has made to me."

"Friends should keep their promises to me."

"When Peter does not keep a promise to me, it means that he does not care about me nor respect me."

"This makes me angry and I want to punish him!"

Each of these statements offers up potential questions that could help me deal with Peter differently. I could explore why Peter keeps breaking promises made to me. Does he really make promises or do I just think he does? I could look at whether it is reasonable to expect that all friends must keep their promises to me. Do I actually keep all my promises to them? I could explore why I feel that not keeping a promise is a sign of disrespect and finally I could look at how I could respond differently. There are many possibilities that can be opened up with such an exploration.

So here is an invitation. Next time you are aware that your emotions are running you, take some time to reflect on what that means and what you can do differently.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.


Are You Interested in...

Organisational Culture?

I am still writing the paper on an ontological approach to organisational culture.

As part of my commitment to taking the ontological approach to the world, this paper will be freely available to anyone who is interested in reading. If you would like to receive a copy of this paper when it is completed, then please send me an email to that effect to cchittenden@talkingabout.com.au and I will send you a copy when it is published.

Deeper Conversations

A friend of mine wrote to me the other day thanking me for a recent conversation in the context that when he seeks deeper conversations with friends and clients, they shy away from the opportunity. It has struck me that one of the benefits of working with a coach lies in the opportunity to have deeper conversations about life, the universe and everything. Yet not everyone wants to work with a coach.

I recently discovered a new avenue for deeper thought through a podcast known as "The Partially Examined Life". The podcast is created by three guys in the US who studied philosophy with a view to making it a career before deciding it was not for them. They take a reading from a well-known philosopher and discuss it in an often humourous and insightful way. So if you are interested in thinking more deeply about life, this could be a place to start. You can find out more at their website, www.partiallyexaminedlife.com or you can find the podcast through iTunes.

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Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

"We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas."

… Michael Crichton (1942-2008) US novelist

To Disclose or Not To Disclose

Since I started focusing on Mind Health Matters on a professional level, the question of when and where and who to disclose to has shown up again and again.

I want to believe that we are all open-minded and well-educated enough that disclosure about a mood disorder would, at best, result in compassionate understanding or nothing more than curious conversations about the emotional or possible physical impacts and how the situation can be best managed by all involved. And at worst that it might involve a conversation to bring someone up to speed about the what and whys of a particular situation.

However, recently I was asked how a person like me… intelligent, educated, great friends, long term relationships, well housed and fed, well-educated and living in Australia, where we can cross the road without being shot at, could get depression? And given that this question came from a well-educated, professional person it reminded me that here in Australia we have a long way to go with respect to awareness, education and removing the stigma associated with mind health matters.

So for those of you that may be unaware of the three medically recognised causes of mood disorders, they are:

  1. Mood disorders can be hereditary
  2. Stress can be a major contributor to depression
  3. Brain chemistry, neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals can function ineffectively

Back to disclosure… There can be some wonderful benefits for disclosing outside of work: greater awareness, more support, deeper understanding, and more trusting open relationships.  Similarly, there can be some great benefits of disclosing at work: greater flexibility in working hours and conditions when your symptoms are at their worst, more supportive colleagues and developing greater loyalty when your trust in your boss is reciprocated.

But it is not all sunshine and roses. People with limited or no understanding of the productivity and effectiveness of people who manage their mood disorders effectively are often limited in their capacity to understand and work around the challenges that may occur from time to time.  The downside of disclosure can come in the form of social isolation, loss of promotion opportunities or targeted redundancies. All of which would no doubt be denied by those perpetrating such actions.

And then there is the challenge of disclosing to people who are unaware of what to do in response to such a disclosure. Over the last year I have had several examples of people in distress who feel they have no other option but to disclose their suicidal mindset in the work place. In each of these instances, the person to which they made the disclosure has not felt equipped to deal with the situation.

So as the likelihood of people disclosing in the workplace increases, the need for each of us to be up to date with ways to access help for those in need as well as feel well equipped to handle the situation will also increase.  You don’t need lengthy psychological training… you just need to know what simple steps you can take to assist the person find the appropriate support.

Disclosure is and ought remain a personal decision. Each person is best placed to weigh up the situation in their personal and work life and look for the indicators that might suggest supportive people and a supportive work place!
And if you or your workplace want to be ready to handle these potential situation and minimise their impact then give me a call on 0412 741 531 to find out more!

Finally, if you work for an organisation that has a regular newsletter that goes out to staff and you think these articles would be appropriate to replicate please let me know… I’m more than happy to do anything which raises awareness about mind health matters. And if people need a financial incentive, current research by Beyond Blue and PWC show that a minimum ROI of 2.13 for every dollar spent occurs when working towards mentally healthy workplaces.

Remember, your mind health matters!

May your days be resilient ones!

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

You can visit the Play Create Elevate website here

More on PCE next month!

Hey, did you know?

"But I Feel Good" Radio Show

Radio Show

Did you know that since November 2013, Jacqui has been hosting a weekly radio show called ‘But I Feel Good’ …talking about pink elephants and black dogs.

The show is dedicated to speaking openly and comfortably about the ‘black dog’ of mood disorders from a lived experience perspective and the ‘pink elephant’ strategies and practices that build emotional resilience and inner fortitude.

It covers a range of topics related to mind health and plays a great mix of music in between interviews with subject matter experts and related content.

The show goes live to air, streaming on www.MAINfm.net so it can be heard AROUND THE WORLD every Monday from 1-3pm AET. Its official broadcast base is 94.9 MAIN FM which extends across the Mt Alexander Shire in Victoria on the wireless.

On demand podcasts are also available at www.jacquichaplin.com.

The Monthly Diversion

From the world of Twitter...

Like many people I have a Twitter account and found some feeds to give me a bit of humour during the day. Here are some wonderful examples to brighten your day.

From the parody account for Chevy Chase (@ChevyChase):

Fish who are caught and released are like the aquatic equivalent of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens.

I burned my mouth on my pizza and I feel this is a strong metaphor showing me that the ones we love can hurt us the most.

My idea of heaven consists of all of the things I’d go to hell for.

Weird is just a side effect of being awesome.

When I die, I want to be cremated and put inside an Etch-a-Sketch.

When the hostess at the restaurant says “table for 2?” I always like to look surprised and whisper “you can see him too?”

And from the parody account of Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray):

If the T-Rex had arms that were long enough to hug, they probably wouldn’t have been so mean.

I wish the “Do not ask me again” option existed in real life.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

How does anything EVER get done at the bubble wrap factory??

Before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are.


"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."

… Dalai Lama

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also initiate your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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