340 | How To Handle Work Through A Life Crisis

Tough stuff happens in our lives. How do you navigate work during a life crisis? There are healthy, and unhealthy tendencies when coping at work. Choosing unhealthy patterns can damage relationships and potentially your future at the company, long after the crisis is over.

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Tough stuff happens in our lives. How do you navigate work during a life crisis? More on that coming up next.

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Welcome to the show folks. Today we are talking about handling your work through a life crisis. Now here’s the deal. Crisis happens, difficulties, trials. How do you navigate work in these times? Now often we as individuals we respond in unhealthy ways. You know at work we usually fall into one of two camps. You’re either internalizing it, which means tha, somebody else would never know that there’s something wrong with you. They could not see it because you are stuffing it inside or there’s a tendency to externalize it. Now we’re going to talk more about that right after you hear about this. Folks, I want to talk about something I am really excited about. According to our yearly surveys, the number one struggle for business leaders for three years running is lack of direction. So we’re doing something new to help leaders solve this.

September 19th through the 20th we are hosting aligned, discover and develop the right direction for your business. Now it’s a hands on workshop style event. In 36 hours we will work with you to align your business with a compelling mission, vision and strategy. You’ll figure out the right direction for your business and develop a great strategy to get there. There’s a lot more information and limited spots available. So learn more at ChrisLoCurto.com/aligned. So we’re talking about handling life crisis at work. How do you handle work when you’re struggling with something in your life, something difficult in your life and the unhealthy tendencies that people tend to have….the invisible tendencies is perform, pretend, protect, right?

You know, keep working. Act as though everything’s okay. Protect yourself, stuff your emotions. Make sure that you are not showing the emotions that you’re dealing with. This is something that the self protection side of stuffing emotions is so self-destructive. Now in our minds, what we think is don’t show anybody that I’m struggling with something. Because if I did, then I have to be vulnerable, then I get judgment. So on and so forth. And I completely understand that. I agree. You may be working in an environment where, you know, if you’re dealing with something, then people are going to judge the living daylights out of you. Ladies, you absolutely tend to struggle with this. If you were working in an environment of men who are, uh, you know, the good old boys network where emotions are not okay, they’re a bad thing.

They’re a sign of weakness, all that kind of crap, right? So understand the tendencies that you’re gonna have. One of those is going to be that you’re going to stuff your emotions. That’s actually, you don’t need to break your emotions out at work. Don’t hear me say that. You need to go ballistic and share all your emotions at work. What I’m saying is, is that when we tend to stuff our emotions, what we do is, is that we start to tear ourselves apart from the inside. If you just look at the physical response that you get from stuffing your emotions, the cortisol dumps into your stomach that is destroying your stomach, your bacteria, your digestion, the way your brain operates, your Serotonin, your Melatonin, all that kind of craziness. Stuffing your emotions, while it seems like it’s the smart thing to do is not the smartest thing to do right?

Now again, like I said, you don’t need to share all your stuff at work, but understand that when you stuff your emotions, look at it this way. Think of it as building that wall, that wall that separates you from everybody else. You begin to isolate you dealing with your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, and worst of all, your negative self talk, right? Those things that you’re telling yourself. So stuffing emotions, that is something that’s going to hurt you in the long run. Another thing we do is we numb. A lot of folks, we’ll find what we call the surface level responses, a way to numb from what they’re experiencing, what they’re feeling, what they’re struggling with, whether it’s, you know, obviously the easy one to go to is going to be alcohol. But some folks, it’s anger. Some folks it’s manipulation. Some folks, it’s procrastination.

Uh, some folks it’s, you know, compartmentalizing everything in their lives. We use this tactic to numb because we don’t know how to deal with the thing that we’re struggling with or we don’t understand something about the thing that we’re struggling with. Numbing actually doesn’t make it go away. It does for a short period of time, right? But then you tend to have the consequences of the numbing. So obviously if you’re drinking yourself to sleep each night because of something you’re struggling with, well the next day is going to hurt, right? If you are procrastinating because you don’t want to deal with the things that you’re struggling with, then that’s gonna pile up and it’s like, it’s going to become an even bigger pain. So think through that process. That’s not the best route for you to go either. Another invisible tendency, don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel.

Where we tend to think if we can just compartmentalize, if we can just keep people at a distance, if we can just not feel anything, if we can do all of these things, then surely that’s going to be the thing that helps us to get over the thing that we’re dealing with. It appears as though it’s going to work, but ultimately what ends up happening is it just creates bigger issues. The outcome when you’re doing this, you’re living in a false self and then when crisis is gone, guess what? You’re still in a very unhealthy place. Some of the visible tendencies that we will see that are unhealthy when somebody is dealing with the life crisis, especially at work, irritable. Um, you can see it a lot of times that irritation, everything is 10,000 times worse. Right? So if you go to, if you go and get your coffee in the morning and it usually takes you five minutes, if it takes five and a half minutes, you’re just pissed.

You’re just upset. It’s just every single thing seems to be setting you off because every thing that’s not operating perfectly well in your life all of a sudden has an amplified irritation to you. Another thing is emotionally volatile. We’ll see this over and over and over again. You can see that in the way that they treat people. Maybe they’re, uh, setting people’s reality or maybe they’re becoming angry or maybe they’re becoming manipulative in the process. Another visible tendency is depression. Um, obviously when you’re going through something difficult, um, there’s a lot that will show up in the area of depression as though you know who, who knows what it is. It could be something you, maybe you’re dealing with a divorce. Maybe you’re dealing with, um, a big fight that you’ve had. Maybe you’re dealing with loss, but depression is one of those things that as people at work see it.

Now, again, I’m not saying that you can’t be depressed, but understand that as people see it, they’re going to receive that as you not being able to handle a situation. Lethargy is another thing where you just don’t want to do anything. Uh, I have gone through some traumatic experiences in my life and I remember the most traumatic experience that I went through years ago. I remember a couple of days I couldn’t get my brain to function. I couldn’t get my brain to work. Like I just sat there staring at a computer for two days. Uh, so lethargy can definitely be something that you can see on you if you’re dealing with a crisis or something very difficult while you’re at work. What is the outcome? This can damage work relationships, lose trust and have an impact that reaches far beyond the crisis itself.

The crisis season can be over, but you’ve hurt relationships and potentially your future at the company, right? If people experience you as just being a, you know, irritable or emotionally volatile or not being able to do your work, then that can absolutely affect things. And we’re sure not going to go and talk with somebody in leadership, right? And kind of explain what we’re experiencing. That would just be terrible. Now listen, I’m saying that in sarcasm because if you don’t have a leader that you can talk to, then it’s probably smart not to. We are the kind of leaders around here and I’ve led my teams for decades as the kind of person that if somebody was experiencing something, they knew that I’m the person that they can come in and express things with. So coping versus healing, surviving versus living, both strategies

are a response where you are stuck surviving instead of healing and living. So if you’re coping or surviving, I can tell you that tends to be the direction we choose because who taught us? Who taught us how to heal, who taught us how to live? So in tough spots, we need tools. We need life tools. Now there’s a world of difference when a healthy person navigates a crisis versus an unhealthy person, what do healthy people do? The first thing they do is they feel their feelings. It’s okay to feel the stuff that you’re feeling. Now, the scary thought is, oh, my feelings are wrong, or somebody’s telling me my feelings are wrong or I’m going to make all my decisions versus my feelings. Now, I don’t want you to make a living off of your feelings. Now, one of the things we talk about all the time, the next level of life is feelings versus facts.

A lot of times your feelings are going to get you in trouble. However, if you don’t recognize them, if you’re not able to feel what you’re feeling, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to recognize what’s good, what’s bad, what’s right, what’s wrong. If you stuff all of that stuff, If you stuff all of those feelings, then you never actually stop to ask yourself the question is what I’m feeling correct? You know, where’s the facts with what I’m feeling? So first thing healthy people do is that they’re okay with feeling what they’re feeling. It’s all right. They’re not afraid of the appearance of weakness. I have so many leaders and business owners that are women that as they come through something like next level life or they come through Stratplan, they come from this amazing background that so many people have experienced that their emotions are weakness.

Now it is hilarious, especially in a, you know, like I say, the good old boy world where a guy is okay if he gets pissed off and goes and punches a wall, but it’s not okay for a woman to get pissed off and cry. The truth is that’s how we’re built. We’re built that way. That’s how we express our emotions. It doesn’t mean that I’m weak if I’m crying. So you have to understand that healthy people are not afraid of appearing weak because of something they’re dealing with. There have been a handful of times in people’s next level lives I’ve cried with them. There’ve been times when as I’m leading somebody through a process that it is just, you know, I mean it is getting to me and it brings tears to my eyes. That doesn’t mean I’m weak. The person who’s experiencing it, it doesn’t mean that they’re weak.

What it means is that they’re experiencing an emotion, so if you’re afraid of the appearance of weakness, then that should really tell you A) something about you of how you’re viewing the situation that you’re going through, but also where are you? Who are you surrounded by? Healthy people aren’t afraid to appear as though they are weak because they’re experiencing something. Another thing healthy people do is they embrace vulnerability. They understand that to get through struggles, to get through life crisis, that it is okay to be vulnerable. Now, let me, let me speak to this here. Being vulnerable does not mean that you air your dirty laundry with everybody that you tell everybody what you’re experiencing, that you tell everybody all the problems. In fact, I’m going to suggest that you don’t do that unless you’re talking to somebody who’s healthy, who can caveat help you.

It does not help you to just dump your crap on somebody. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean that you dump all your crap on everybody. It means that you understand where you are. It means that you understand what you’re experiencing. It means that you understand that it’s okay that you may not be great right now, that you may not be able to think well, work well, take care of others like you have in the past. Whatever that is. That vulnerability is that vulnerability is being okay to be experiencing what you’re experiencing right now. No matter what it is. So healthy people embrace that. They understand it. Healthy people do not go and vomit the all their problems on other people. That is what unhealthy people do. Another thing they do is they choose community. Now when I say community, what I am saying is healthy people.

It is incredibly smart for you to surround yourself with healthy people, to surround yourself with people who do not absolutely enable you to struggle, who do not, uh, sit there and tell you, you know, cry with you and continue to bring up the crap. So you can continue to cry about your situation, but they sympathize. They may be even empathize and they help you by feeling and understanding what you’re going through, but also pointing you toward health, helping you to see what healthy restoration looks like. My best example of this, that it just drives me nuts. Whenever you look at somebody who’s being a victim, especially on social media, you see this over and over again. You can see the victim who reaches out and complains about something and then you see unhealthy community. So if this is you, you need to recognize you’re doing this unhealthy community comes around and starts enabling like crazy.

Oh, my boss is such a horrible boss. Why is that? Oh, because they got onto me for being late three days in a row. Oh my gosh. I had a boss like that once too. Oh, they just don’t understand how good you are. How about you come over tonight and we’ll drink wine and talk about it. Guys, that’s not, that’s not a healthy community. Healthy community goes well, were you late three times? Well, yeah. Okay, well then take responsibility for being late. Don’t blame your boss because you chose to do something wrong, right? So choose community, choose community that’s going to understand what you’re going through. If you’re going through something that’s really difficult and you’re not being a victim, then this is the community that’s going to help you to solve the problem, to experience what you need to experience. Another thing they do is they seek help.

Who are the people that have been through this, that teach on this, that you know, guide on this, that shepherd on this, you know, who can I go to when I’m really dealing with something in life that somebody knows how to help me? Somebody knows how to give me tools. How to get help not to let me sit and wallow in the problem because that is only self-destructive. It’s not saying that you don’t get, once again, you heard me, the very first thing I said is feel your feelings right? Healthy people are able to do that. What I’m saying is, is that, you know, you’re not getting around people who are immediately going to tell you that you can’t feel anything. You’ve got to fix everything. You can just, you’ve got to get over yourself. But you’re also not getting around people who are saying, you know what, let’s just sit in this crap for a long time and be victims.

Somebody who understands and somebody who knows how to walk you to health. Healthy people seek help. Another thing that healthy people do is they know their limits and their boundaries. They know how much they can give and not give. Now, a very unhealthy tendency for folks while they’re dealing with crisis is to overwork. Once again, it’s a great coping mech or numbing mechanism, right? Is that if I will work my butt off and just keep my brain from thinking about the situation, that will totally solve it. And unfortunately what it ends up doing is stressing you out even more and just stacking onto the problems. Healthy people know their limits, they know their boundaries. If you’re struggling with something then you’ve got to get to somebody who can help you sooner than trying to outwork your problem or trying to numb from your problem.

Unhealthy people. They don’t talk, they don’t trust, they don’t feel. Before we talk about the four steps of how to handle work in a life crisis, I have something exciting that I want to share with you and that is our next level life. Our two day one on one personal discovery experience. Next level life is our two day personal discovery experience. It’s a one on one personalized event where we guide you through a process to help you discover your root system, to get in stuck in life and to discover what’s holding you back from freedom and peace. Imagine this, what if you could wake up every morning with a clear purpose? What would it look like to have healthier relationships with less conflict? Where would you be in a few months, a year, five years if you had clarity, purpose and peace. Probably a big difference from where you stand today.

Now I know it’s possible because I’ve been where you are asking myself, is there more? There is and there is a better way and it starts with next level life. You can go to ChrisLoCurto.com/discover to take the next step. Now, if you’re struggling with this contentment, regret, or not feeling good enough, which most of you are, if you’re filled with anxiety or your relationships or liking, don’t keep going through the same motions every single day. Learn how to move past the things, robbing you of peace. All right, we’re back and we’re talking about facing life crisis at work. Now if you’re facing a life crisis, here are four things to consider doing to move toward health and healing. And we’re also going to have a pdf of all these four things to consider and the action items from this episode.

And you can download that at ChrisLoCurto.com/340. Now, the first thing that we want to do is we want to notice, we want to name, and we want to feel our feelings. You cannot bottle them up. They don’t work like that. Emotions are signals. So if you ignore that signal, it will only get louder and more frequent until you address it. So think of it like you know the, the lights on our dashboard, right? The lights that tell you, hey, something’s wrong with your car. Now you’ve got to understand that your emotions operate the same way, right? You’re going to have that one light that says, hey, this is something that you, you know, something isn’t necessarily wrong yet, but you should get your oil changed in the next, you know, five, 10,000 miles or something like that. Hey, it’s time for an oil change that’s coming up.

Let’s make sure we do that before something goes really bad. Or you have the light that comes on and says, Hey, you were like two quarts low on oil. This thing’s about to become an extremely heavy paperweight, so do something about it right now. Your emotions operate the same way. You have certain emotions that are at you saying, you better do something about this right now. You know, stop solve this, fix it, figure it out, name it. What is the thing that you’re dealing with, right? And then get with somebody or do something to solve this. Number two is embrace vulnerability. Do you have a trusted leader? If you do, let them know what’s going on. There is not a person in our company that cannot come to me or one of our leaders and share the difficult thing that they’re experiencing. They know that they can do that.

They know that we’re going to work with them. They know that we’re going to help them. If you have that, fantastic. Find that person inside of your workplace and try and get some help through this process. A great leader is going to support you in this. It doesn’t mean that they’re gonna let you live this way for the rest of your life. They’re going to support you in the process. We all feel like we’re the only ones struggling. When we share this stuff with somebody that we can trust, then we quickly realize that we’re not. So the third thing you need to do is you need to choose community. And when I say that, I mean healthy community. Seek support outside of work in family, in counselors, in church in support groups, et cetera. Go out of your way to find help, folks, we all need it.

Listen, this is not the time. There’s never really a time for you to need to protect yourself in this, right? Go find healthy people and put them in your life. Get them injected into your life, especially in a situation like this, right? But Gosh, even when you’re not going through stuff, don’t be embarrassed. If you’re embarrassed, you will isolate. There’s only one reason to be embarrassed because you’re going to be around people who are going to judge the crap out of you. So don’t get around those people. Go find some healthy people that understand, can sympathize, can empathize, can guide you and direct you to health. So make sure that you choose a healthy community. Number four, reset your limits. Know that right now you’re not at 100%. leaders and business owners. Listen to me on this, trust me on this. If you have somebody that’s going through a life crisis, especially a divorce or the loss of a loved one, I promise you, your people cannot work at 100% do not expect it.

I have, unfortunately, too many times had to help people through this process. It’s painful. It’s, it’s difficult. There’s times that they can’t even think straight and I can tell you, if you’re expecting 100% out of them, you’re making a big mistake. So what I do, whenever somebody has to go through something like a big life crisis or something like that, I take a look around the things that they’re most likely gonna drop the ball on and I pull that from them and, and give it to somebody else who can help in this process, right? And give them time. This doesn’t mean that we let them stay there for the rest of their lives. We just take care of them in their time. So folks, if you’re experiencing this, if you’re the one who’s going through this, reevaluate your workloads, your commitments, and if you need to put some things on hold, it’s OKAY or if you need to get some, some help with something on your plate, do it.

Understand while you’re going through a life crisis, there is a fantastic phrase that I want you to use. Okay? So I want you to practice this with me. No, no, I can’t do that. No, I can’t come and spend time at that thing. Or no I can’t come and babysit your 17 kids while I’m dealing with, you know, this thing that I’m dealing with. You know, it is okay for you to say no. Reevaluate your workload, reevaluate your commitments, put on hold what you need to and get help with the things on your plate that you need help with. So beyond all that, if you’re shutting down or reacting in an unhealthy way, then you have to understand that you are in an unhealthy place, whether you’re ignoring it or you’re lashing out. Either way, you are in an unhealthy place. Both are reactions that you’re surviving but not healing.

So use these four tools to choose health and to heal. If you keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you will continue living the same life you’ve always lived. So you can get the pdf download with these action steps that we talked about. And a quick summary of all four areas we just covered. Just go to ChrisLoCurto.com/340 and download all of that information.

Well, folks, I again, thank you for joining me today. I hope it has served you well. I encourage you to subscribe, rate, and share the podcast to help more people join our community and as always, take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next step episode.




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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.