The season’s festivities are over and many of us are experiencing expanding waistlines and decreasing bank balances. Perhaps you can add in some relationship fall-out from spending just a bit too much time with your nearest and dearest.
And according to academic Cliff Arnell the worst is yet to come...
A few years ago I ran a workshop on so-called ‘Blue Monday’ for a local council, and as we started the day the participants appeared to be rather a miserable bunch, explaining that this phenomenon (as reported by the media) must indeed be true, as they were all feeling rather down and really did have better things to do than spend a couple of days learning about Solutions Focus (SF) Coaching (whatever that might be).
I was rather daunted: here with a group of unhappy people, ready to share with them a ‘positive’ approach to conversations. Having been informed by the press and my participants that The Blue Monday phenomenon was kicking in, I must admit I had a moment of doubt. Was SF strong enough to counterbalance BM?
Still, the workshop was going ahead, BM or not. Looking at the group I remembered Insoo Kim Berg’s advice, ‘If you want to go fast, go slow’, and rather than asking the group to share something they were particularly pleased with (my usual workshop opener), I borrowed a line from Michael Hjerth (our Swedish colleague) and said, ‘I’m guessing that some things are going well, some are going badly and some are just the same as always’. The entire group responded with a resounding ‘Yes!” So then I asked, ‘Tell me, what’s going well…. even a little bit?’
Slowly but surely, they started to answer: one had forged a relationship with an estranged family member over Christmas and they were now hoping for a full reconciliation. Another delegate unusually hadn’t received a single call over the break from their team asking for help, and when they got back to work everything was in order. One by one, everybody shared something that was going well.
This in turn set the tone for the rest of our time together. It was blue Monday no more; rather, a resourceful and welcome start to the week.
So, it’s up to you. Do you buy into how miserable and depressed the experts tell us we should be post-Christmas, or will you, like my participants, start noticing what’s going well (even a little bit) – or perhaps even explore what’s better than expected?
Happy New Year.