Discerning diminishment

Multiple occasions this week left me feeling diminished. One type was undervalued, another type was discredited, and another was misunderstood. I’ve been considering how frequently and habitually I diminish others and how often I feel diminished by others for trivial, mundane, ludicrous, judgmental things, over misunderstandings.

I’ve been reading about projection and transference as interpersonal and psychological dynamics between people or within families or workplaces and communities for 14 years. And I wonder how transference undergirded the arbitrary yet painful episodes this week.

I felt sad and angry and disheartened with each. I don’t even know how I’d describe what the accumulated diminishment felt like as I was stuck in mundane in each and wasn’t whirring with analysis seeking greater comprehension or new insight. I was stuck in bothered.

Now, at the cusp of the weekend, I know that there will be plenty more diminishing in the weeks ahead. I may not notice three palpably painful instances as happened this week but I’ll have to figure out what my first reactions are when the diminishment comes.

And, I have to find how to feel feelings of confusing or offense without resorting to diminish others to find how to not collapse the vastness of who others are by belittling them or denigrating their conduct instead noticing my desire to withdraw or move away from without making up a story that justifies aversion and amplifies disgust. To notice my misunderstanding without filling the space inside myself and between me abd them with a few reasons why I’m upset. Instead just feeling upset, without more story, for 15 to 40 seconds. Then to return to my own feet, my own heart rate, my back without observing their shape, stature or feelings.

With this, I may acknowledge them as they are without diminishment.

For what it’s worth: I am aware that diminishment is not [yet!] a word in the dictionary. Though based on some similar words, the concept builds upon the following (italics added) —

  • Diminish, verb: 1) to make or cause to seem smaller, less, less important, etc.; lessen; reduce. 2) [architecture] to give (a column) a form tapering inward from bottom to top. 3) [music] to make (an interval) smaller by a chromatic half step than the corresponding perfect or minor interval. 4) to detract from the authority, honor, stature, or reputation of; disparage.
  • Punishment, noun: 1) the act of punishing. 2) the fact of being punished. 3) a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc. 4) severe handling or treatment.

it’s summer 2012, so get an intern.

Summer has begun. Are you feeling swamped, overwhelmed? Is your outbox (either mentally or the 20th century one on your desk) overflowing with incomplete items?

Here’s a bit of advice: get an intern.

A breath of fresh air. Metaphors, aside, an intern is a phenomenal way to disrupt the hoarding, amassing, isolating tendencies  at work. An intern requires frontloading, which is critical (for me as a procrastinator). Frontloading introduces, acquaints and gives an intern the context to figure out what’s in store during the summer experience. The beauty of frontloading is that it then provides me with the opportunity to get out of the way.

A few steps to get an internship under way are:

  1. Pick a few projects, especially those that have sat idle for months yet are sufficiently important that you are not forgetting them.
  2. How long? — 3 months from June-Aug is a very different arrangement than just 6 weeks.
  3. How much? — can be paid for compensation either in an hourly wage, a stipend? additional perks include providing access, training and paying the way for other ways to learn, gain skills and get access in the summer of 2012.
  4. Figure out the logistics — the basics are:
    are they working virtually or in the same office/space as you? will they have access to a desk, computer with internet access?
    the next level of logistics are:
    how often will you make yourself available to sit down with them? To assign new tasks, get updates, and address questions that have arisen. I have decided to have a weekly call every Tuesday afternoon.
    what documents, history + context will be sent to them?
    what email or web access will you provide them with? 
  5. what are the framing and overarching questions that will guide their work for the internship’s duration?

All in all, an internship is a welcome pivot for an office that has not had young students around. They bring fresh perspective, different ways of learning/researching/accessing, as well as how to navigate the internet.

Go on, and get hiring — our labor markets need it.