WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

March 25, 2013

Bread & Water Diet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:44 pm

Adam has a boss who drove him nuts. As a new associate in his financial services firm, he was eager to learn as much as he could to get ahead. When he first interviewed with Nancy, he got the impression that she was going to groom him for great things. In fact,that was why he took the job. After the first few months, she’s largely left him on his own. These days, she simply drops by his cubicle and leaves him curt instructions.

“Get this to me by Thursday.”

“See Jeff about this and then do a report on it by the end of the month.”

Adam, who appreciates being coached, feels like he’s getting a pretty thin diet. He’s getting instructions, but no development, no mentoring. As time goes on he’s getting more frustrated, and he’s starting to think he made the wrong decision. On the other hand, has he been performing badly? What has gone wrong?

In my book WordFood: How We Feed or Starve Our Relationships, this is the Bread & Water Diet. Adam’s getting just enough to function but not to thrive. Yet he’s also making some assumptions about Nancy that may not be accurate.

It’s quite possible that Nancy has been so impressed by Adam that she feels he doesn’t need input from her. She compliments him by minimizing her role and letting him take the initiative.

It’s also quite possible that Nancy is overwhelmed with work right now and her lack of interaction is indicative of her lack of time.

Another angle is that Nancy is dealing with personal issues, and this is the best she can muster.

Or at worst, perhaps she sees Adam as a threat to her job, which she hadn’t anticipated. This is her way of keeping him from advancing.

Any of these scenarios, and a hundred more, could be true. For Adam to assume that it’s all about him is self-centered thinking. He isn’t privy to her thoughts, and projecting his fears onto her is unfair, and inevitably leads to a bad outcome.

Here are some solid strategies for Adam to move Nancy towards a more Balanced interaction:

  • Offer support and reinforcement. Determine if you’re the problem, find out why and have an honest conversation to clear the air.
  • Ask for specifics. Keep asking until you get answers. You may need to ask for an outside intervention if you get resistance.
  • Put yourself in Nancy’s shoes. You only just started. Use the power of perspective to see where she might be coming from.
  • Find out what Nancy is hungry for. Better communication? Reporting? More space? See if you can provide it.
  • Does Nancy need an empathetic ear? Ask a few discreet questions and see if this is  the real need.
  • If you get avoidance or grunts, start the conversation on safe ground, areas of commonality. Then work up to the tough stuff.

It’s easy to get caught up in our version of what’s what rather than consider the myriad other potential factors that could be pressing on another person’s behavior. It may not be about you at all. If Adam can remain open, soft and curious he may discover that Nancy has just lost her beloved father to cancer, and she has been in mourning.

You came here to serve. By taking the ME out of the picture, you can find how.

March 21, 2013

WordFood about Food

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 11:43 am

A client recently asked me to put together a program about weight loss. I had told her that 26 years ago I had let go of 80 pounds and kept it off. Because her Fortune 500 company got requests from their employees about this topic all the time, I agreed. It was the beginning of a very important journey.

First of all, language is so important. The huge diet industry is $61 billion strong in America. I had spent much of my life up to my early thirties gaining and losing hundreds if not thousands of pounds. Like everyone else, my brain used the same language- lose the weight. What happens when you lose your keys, your purse, your wallet? The subconscious, which is a dutiful servant, sends its bloodhound out to find it, and it always does. With weight, not only does it find what you lost, but inevitably a few, or many, pounds more. Mission accomplished. Until the language changed, the cycle never changed. When I released it, it started to go permanently.

As a compulsive eater, like many others in America, my habits derived from the conversation that began in early childhood. As Geneen Roth writes about in Women, Food and God, a Voice (a parent, an authority figure) tells you that you’re subhuman, or worse. And you adopt that Voice as adult. Because it’s painful, you want to dial it down, and to do so, you eat. A lot. Or you develop a compulsive habit.

It’s not about the weight, it was never about the weight. Fact is, you can diet yourself down to 99 pounds and the Voice is still there.

My process was much like the story of Monsters Inc., where the characters Mike and Sully end up helping the human child Boo deal with her scary monster Randall. Boo vanquishes her fear, and they all learn that her laughter is a much more potent power source than screams.

A good comedian takes material from his own life- tragedy+ time=comedy. Like Boo, it was taking what was once scary and awful and seeing it in a completely different light. In my case I asked what Robin Williams would do with this situation. In most cases I nearly fell on the floor. With laughter came healing- and the ability to redirect that powerful energy around food into positive projects.

It’s not about the weight. It never was about the weight. It’s about being able to face the fears that we all have and say to them, “Kitty!”

March 13, 2013

WordFood to Connect

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:42 pm

My assistant Brenda sent me an email for an order of twenty WordFood books from a local office here in Denver. They needed them right away and so I called as soon as I had a free moment to take care of the request.

Jan and I spoke briefly about her interest in the book, and then I mentioned the new program I was working on, WordFood: Nourishing Your Essence. It’s a program about dealing with obesity and compulsion, part my story and part how to end the constant battles of dieting and start feeding the part of us that truly needs to be fed- in other words, it’s not about the weight, and never was about the weight.

Jan sighed, and shared that she, too, has dealt with this for many years. I’d just spent the entire weekend writing much of the speech and digging up old stories, and I shared a few with her. As all comedians know, pain + time = comedy, and pretty soon, Jan was laughing right along with me. As someone who has spent a lifetime putting up a front of perfection when behind that wall all hell was breaking loose, this was a chance to find out how it felt to tell the truth, and to laugh.

Not only was it great fun, Jan found herself in my tales of the bags of Oreos at the checkout counter and in her best poker face telling the clerk they were for a “Party.”  Or convincing a boyfriend that I just couldn’t put on weight, and his opening a mostly unused closet door to find hundreds of packages of cookies, chocolate and cakes- my stash. We howled.

The power of WordFood is its ability to create real connections. Jan was able to see the humor in behavior that she found repugnant. Just these few moments allowed us to build a deep understanding between us – “I know your pain” – because we chose to share something private and important. It’s the beginning of healing.

Sometimes by dragging a monster into the light much of its size and ferocity is lost. Laughing at it removes a great deal of its hold on you. Realizing that others have walked this path and like St. George, have slayed the dragon, is help of the highest sort. While the first step is the hardest, being willing to share honestly shines the light of day on lies that have lain in darkness for years.

Jan graced me with a gift: the reminder that by sharing the deepest stories, we touch the deepest part of others. Our WordFood sets others free.

These opportunities happen on a park bench, in the gym, at coffee with a friend, on an airline flight. You have the ability to transform a life with your true story. Truth is far more powerful than fiction. WordFood works wonders.

March 5, 2013

Letting in Junk WordFood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 10:04 am

Chances are you love junk food. Even a little bit here and there. A cookie, Doritos, some truffles, could be anything. I read last year where the three worst things you can eat are Oreos, Ritz crackers and hot dogs. Three of America’s favorite things to eat, especially Oreos. Few of us can resist.

What about Junk WordFood, which doesn’t make us fat or rot our teeth, but rots our hearts and minds? Even the best of us can revel in a little gossip, the inside skinny on someone’s troubles or scandal. When we’re talking to a friend about an annoying person, it’s so tempting to fire off our own frustrations. The other day a friend was discussing a woman we both knew, someone who was a highly accomplished and lauded woman but who also had some challenges in her personal relationships. Neither of us had been able to establish connections with her. I had strong opinions, and was sorely tempted to express them. My friend asked what I thought, and this time I simply offered that I knew she had challenges, and I wasn’t privy to them, and for my part, I couldn’t connect.

The temptation to slam this woman behind her back was real, but unfair to her and unjust. I’m quite sure I have my detractors for one reason or another, and it would be painful to hear their comments. They’re not privy to my full story, just as I’m not privy to this woman’s. We cannot know what is going on in others’ lives.

When you let Junk Word Food into your world, or pour it into others’, you’re adding garbage to the atmosphere. You sully the waters and create hurt that can sometimes backfire. Your words have the power to damage, not just the people you’re criticizing, but also yourself, because they affect your state of mind. When you refuse to take part in gossip and tearing others down, you keep your heart and mind clean. You also set the standard for others to follow.

Like Oreos and Ritz and hot dogs, Junk WordFood is tempting, but it does damage. When those opportunities come to participate in gossip or character assassination, just walk away. You’ll feel lighter, better and stronger when you do.

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