SoulBeing June 2023 Newsletter
The past few months have been full of some big milestones at SoulBeing. We are in the middle of implementations with some incredible new clients, we are expanding our team as well as our provider network, and we have participated in several events and conferences, including the Maine HR Conference and the Mainebiz Healthcare Forum.
Often at these events I have caught myself, mid-cliché, saying “I’m really just happy to be here.”
And it’s true, I am. I feel honored that we are being invited to participate in these important conversations. I am grateful that our work is being showcased in places where decisions are made. I’m thrilled to think that our mission is having an impact.
As I tell the story of our business dozens of times each week, I am met with resounding support for the efforts of our team, and our dedication to our mission of improving access to high quality evidence-based healthcare options. I am also navigating some unexpected compliments that leave me feeling conflicted.
“You are brave to be doing this important work.”
“You are resilient to keep going through every curveball thrown your way.”
Of course, I am humbled and flattered to hear these comments, as they are a direct reflection of the hard work and culture of our team. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to be brave or resilient anymore.
If doing this work makes me brave, that means that our society is not willing to think critically about the systems we have in place that are clearly broken and adopt changes to these systems when appropriate solutions present themselves. I don’t believe this about society, I think we are ready for change.
Bravery also implies that we are challenging a bigger and more powerful opponent. Is the entrenched US healthcare system big and powerful? Yes, of course. But I don’t see the healthcare system as our opponent, I see our solution as a natural evolution of what people are demanding from healthcare. An expansion of options. More power to choose. Better education about available services. Easier access to more personalized, more affordable care.
If US healthcare consumers (all of us) are demanding this, which we are, then the SoulBeing team is not brave to be doing this work. We are patient. We are steadfast. We are full of conviction.
But we are also bolstered by communities full of people who believe that our work matters.
The “resilient” compliment elicits a slightly different response. Resilience in its’ purest form is without doubt a valuable attribute, as well as one that can be improved with the right practices over time. Resilience and its’ link to productivity at work has been a prominent topic at every conference I’ve attended in recent memory. But while there may be compelling stories around resiliency and burnout driving corporate decisions worldwide, I don’t want to have to be resilient either.
You’ve probably heard the anecdote about stress and the sabretooth tiger. The story reminds us that stress is a very good thing for humans when considering that for much of human history, the survival of a human being in a tribal, wilderness environment relied heavily on our ability to feel and react to stress.
The role of stress on the body for thousands of years was to enhance ability to focus, heighten the senses, optimize reflexes and reaction time – all essential physical responses that directly impacted an individual’s ability to survive dangerous encounters with wildlife, natural forces, and other enemies.
For much of human history, our body’s ability to be stressed was literally a matter of life and death.
The reason stress is such a problem today is that our evolution has not kept up with the advancements in our environment. Today, most of us are not running for our lives from a charging sabretooth. Our bodies still feel stress, however, whenever we encounter something that makes us uncomfortable. That tiger is now an email from your boss about a missed deadline, or a call from your childcare provider that you need to come retrieve your sick toddler. Our bodies feel the stress and react with the same hormonal and systemic responses that they have been preprogrammed to do for generations.
Here’s the kicker: these stressors are a constant in our environment. While you will physically encounter zero sabretooth tigers to flee from today, your body may be reacting as if there is one chasing you every thirty minutes.
No wonder so many of us are living in an unsustainable, unhealthy state of fight-or-flight. Our nervous systems are completely dysregulated because of this mismatch in environment and evolution. If resilience is defined as our ability to recover quickly from difficulties, a direct way to move the needle is by implementing strategies to better manage our stress levels. This is an important example of “controlling what we can,” and I would argue that every single person can benefit from stress management training and tools (our SoulBeing providers can help!).
But if resilience is a response to the stress in our environment, we can, and should, also be taking steps to reduce the stress caused by our environment.
This can look like removing a sense of urgency when things are not truly urgent, celebrating small accomplishments, or prioritizing relationships among teams as a metric of success. The impact of these cultural changes can be enormous in the workplace and at home. We’ve seen it in our research time after time. Changes in the environment are an essential consideration when we talk about meaningful change at a population health level.
So if you are still reading, here is my ask to you this month: tell someone about our work. Send them my way (email@example.com) so that we can continue to spread the word.
I’ll be over here, waiting as patiently as possible. Being brave and resilient, but hopefully needing to be less of each over time. Working toward a world where that is true for all of us. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to be “just happy to be here,” doing the work.
Wishing you well,