This month at All Hands In our theme is Healing. In this post I talk about how soft skills, when taken on as a daily practice, becomes a necessary layer in our healing work. In this post each link leads to a resource I have used to help me in my soft skills practice. If you are looking for more info start with these resources, then feel free to reach out if you'd like more info on how I approach soft skills coaching.
Healing has become a catchy and vague term these days. We hear it when we're on social media for more than five minutes, we see headlines for it at the check out aisle, and we may even watch as friends and family alter their lives in search of "healing."
Healing as developed a veil of mystery around it, a secret open only to those who have unlocked the hidden door, learned the secret knock, or gotten the memo containing the coveted password. But that's all bullshit. First of all...
1) We are all worthy and deserving of healing.
2) All of us are capable of healing our relationships with ourselves, and even with others.
3) Healing, when it is in alignment with your authentic values and needs, is the best investment you will ever make.
Let me be honest. We live in a culture that perpetuates damage, then commoditizes the trauma, and profits off the desire to heal. I watched this start to happen early on in my childhood. Cable TV swept across the nation back in the 80's. Suddenly, home shopping, toxic advertising, courtroom dramas, and 24 hour news cycles were in our homes overnight. We had no idea at the time, that just by leaving the TV on, we were engaged in a constant numbing cycle of damage and trauma. This culture has only gone into warp speed with the addition of the internet and social media. Login, take in damage, absorb trauma, numb, and repeat. For many of us, this is how we go through our everyday routine.
This damage cycle seeps into our subconscious leaving us feeling drained, shamed, and unworthy. By the time we are done with our days we are depleted but we wake up and do it all again the next day. If we watch TV, use social media, listen to commercial radio, or just walk / drive down the street, we are bombarded with advertising and messages telling us we are fat, dumb, poor, and ugly, so we better buy that new thing! Or we're shown videos or images of humans being horrible to each other and the planet. OR we are scared into believing that we don't have "enough" to secure our future, which exacerbates our anxiety and depression.
We are a nation, a species, and a planet in need of healing. We are a culture whose moral platform is built on consumption over connection. And we have become people who cannot identify the waters that are killing us. We gather around toxic wells everyday and fill our buckets to the brim, drink until we're full wondering why we're never hydrated. But how do we find healing in a culture that depends on our damage for its survival? Is it even possible?
Healing becomes a lot less mysterious when we have open conversations about it. For those of us who are serious about our collective healing, this means we need to openly share our resources. Healing shouldn't feel like a VIP line to an exclusive club... it should feel like a community center. In truth, healing is a multi layered process- it's not a pill, or an event, or even a guru. Healing is a committed practice, that you come to every day imperfectly, and you give yourself compassion and appreciation for both your dedication and your imperfection. Does that feel like heavy shit? Well... it is.
My healing journey began with a great therapist many years ago. Our sessions were super helpful when it came to making me feel seen and hear. I learned how to bring the soft skill awareness to my emotions and vocalize what I was feeling. All of this was a tremendous step forward in my healing. BUT... the heart of my work did not truly begin until I began using accountability with my therapy. So right there, I've pointed to three soft skills critical for my healing foundation: Awareness, communication, and accountability.
Prior to using awareness and accountability this is what the work looked like when I was struggling with a professor in graduate school... I'd go to a session, talk about how shit made me feel, get a pat on the back for showing up, and then go back out in the world and engage in the same behavior that undermined my progress. Eventually the day came when my therapist had a hard conversation with me.
"Kate, you come in every week and we talk about the same person. This professor is difficult, I won't argue with that. But in life I can tell you there are A LOT of people like him. You have a choice. You can avoid making difficult changes because you're hoping he will change, or you can change how you respond to him, which will actually benefit you not only in this setting but every time you encounter someone like him in the future." Hearing that wisdom sucked at the time. My therapist was absolutely right, I was frustrated and angry at the situation but my solution was to drink poison hoping I'd make the other person sick... and we all know how that works.
It was after that session that I began actually doing the work of healing, and when I look back on what I did to engage my healing, soft skills showed up every step along the way. After gaining awareness of my own behavior, I used accountability to record how my actions undermined my goals. Accountability also became a massive life saver when I needed to get back on track after a regression or set back.
One of the most helpful tools soft skills gave me in my healing platform was learning how to effectively communicate. This is how I practiced how to speak to my needs, ask for help and listen to others. Another super power soft skill that amplified my communication? Empathy.
Holy shit, when it comes to soft skill super powers, empathy is the OG. Building my healing platform on awareness, accountability, and communication gave me a solid foundation. But it wasn't until I began to actively practicing compassion, that the rest of the house began to get built. For me, my soft skills practice goes beyond just being a better leader or a more effective team member. What my soft skills practice has taught me is largely how to heal.
I have learned through awareness, adaptability, accountability, empathy, vulnerability, and communication how to understand myself. These soft skills also showed me where and why I hid behind protective layers of ego driven behaviors for so long. And most importantly, soft skills gave me a road map of which skills to practice when I felt disconnected, lost, or so frustrated I couldn't see clearly.
When the talk around healing reaches the, "mumbo jumbo" level, I tend to opt out because it becomes a barrier to authentic healing. The majority of my deepest healing didn't come from an expensive spa day or 20K retreat. It came from working with a few trusted professionals, and then applying that work into my life. In other words, once you learn how to create your own map and follow it, you will begin to heal. And if your map carves out space for soft skills you will be surprised where your healing journey takes you.
When I work with clients through soft skills coaching and workshops, my goal is to give them their own authentic map. I help them craft their own path and show them how to follow it after coaching has ended. My goal is to give each client the soft skills tools to help them in their healing journey. Clients learn how to use this map to better their work in therapy, practice boundary setting, and fall in love their authenticity.
In truth, if you are able to practice the soft skills I mentioned above you don't need a soft skills coach, you just need a consistent practice. If you need a little help- start with the resources I tag in this post, and if you feel like you need some personal guidance, reach out and let's talk about if coaching is the right fit. If it is, great. If it's not, all that means is there are other healing resources better suited for your healing. That what healing is all about, finding what is accessible and making it work for you. Here's to our collective healing, our soft skills education, and kicking ass along the way!
Kate Katz is the owner and founder of All Hands In, a soft skills development company. All Hands In specializes in soft skill development using play and puppetry. If you'd like to learn more about the work she does please visit: www.allhandsinworkshops.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org