Getting down to the work of healing

“For those who have chosen not to support me in the past…I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

Donald J. Trump, 9. Nov, 2016

Back in January I began The Diversity Dividend with a piece about three qualities, openness, curiosity and appreciation, and how the cultivation of these qualities could lead to leveraging the best that is in all of us. In the job of healing our country after a divisive election, I believe that these qualities must come to the fore.

When you are open, you can make connections. When you exhibit curiosity, your connections are deepened as you move toward a better understanding of what it is to walk in this other person’s shoes. When you show appreciation, you let the other person know that they have been seen, heard and valued.

Let’s, therefore, not underestimate the possibility for positive change going forward and accept the opportunity President-Elect Trump has afforded by offering our guidance and help. As people who work to help foster diversity and inclusion:

  • We are no strangers to difficult conversations
  • We wield tools that can help to steer conflict in productive directions
  • We embrace “both/and” thinking, can sit with ambiguity and endeavor to see the glass as half full
  • We celebrate growth and seek to validate multiple routes to personal development
  • We recognize that awareness that there is a problem is a crucial first step to making progress in unraveling that problem

From where I sit, our work is now more rather than less important. Let’s demonstrate the power of openness, curiosity and appreciation and seize this moment to lay the groundwork for an abundance mentality.

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The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Getting down to the work of healing

Connecting within and without

I turn again this week to Miriam Greenspan’s Healing through the Dark Emotions for what it suggests about how we can best approach the processing of painful feelings.

When we experience fear, grief and despair, many of us tend to hold back from sharing these emotions. This silence can help us to discover what is at the core of our pain. With time to ourselves, we can delve into how what has happened treads on basic values or re-activates old wounds. We can start to decode the messages our pain has for us. Off on our own, we can wrestle with how much we hurt without worrying about needing to put a good face on things. Time alone can be a crucial part of the healing process.

Alternatively, silence can seem the only safe way forward. We may believe that we will burden others with what we are experiencing. We may imagine that speaking with them will only intensify our pain through encountering a lack of understanding or empathy. We may be concerned that admitting our brokenness will cause us to be shunned, shamed or belittled. This sort of silence can hinder rather than help our healing.

“Emotional alchemy is not only a process of going deeper, it’s also a process of getting wider—telling a wider story, recontextualizing your private, personal pain. The wider we get, the more our dark emotions connect us to the world and the more we grow in wisdom and compassion.” p. 85

Engaged in thoughtfully, going deeper can facilitate your healing and help you grow as an individual. However, it may also serve as a substitute for looking at the broader meaning of your feelings, circumstances and experiences. We all want to feel that our story is unique and yet focusing on this uniqueness may obscure our options for action. We can derail our healing if we fail to acknowledge the way our narrative is shaped by the world around us. Becoming conscious of the bigger picture can also help us to be more self-compassionate.

“The single greatest barrier to…healing and transformation is not really…traumatizing events themselves but…isolation. This isolation…is not so much a failure of the individual to find community as it is a failure of the human community to offer connection to the individual.” p. 212

Let’s begin to think about emotions as being a bit like breathing. That is, think about how can you cycle between taking them in and then out again: Connecting with yourself, connecting with others, understanding the personal nature of your pain, understanding the universal nature of your pain. If you can connect with others – when you or they are in pain – and at the same time deepen your connection to self, you can transform isolation into enlightenment.


Miriam Greenspan. (2003). Healing through the dark emotions. The wisdom of grief, fear, and despair. Boston: Shambala.
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The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Connecting within and without

Coming home or coming apart: Are we losing the battle for peace on the home front?

It’s Memorial Day in the US and people all over the country will be honoring our veterans. It’s also the start of a new PBS series; tonight is the premiere of TED Talks: War and Peace. One of the people featured in the series is Sebastian Junger, whose new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging was released last week, and who has a distinctive take on veterans’ issues and PTSD that I want to explore for what it says to those of us working as change agents.

“[M]aybe what determines the rate of long-term PTSD isn’t what happened out there, but the kind of society you come back to….In other words, maybe the problem isn’t them, the vets, maybe the problem is us.”

Out there, the mission is clear. Out there, cooperation is vital. Out there, structures are designed to support everyone. Out there, what you are doing is meaningful. Out there, you can make a difference.

Out there, there is a heightened sense of justice, a heightened sense of responsibility and a heightened sense of urgency.

And then you come “home.” The way forward is muddled. There is gridlock in government. There are political candidates promulgating hate. There is senseless violence. And at the same time, injustice, sidestepping of responsibility and apathy seem to be the order of the day.

“We’ve gotten used to it. Veterans have gone away and are coming back and seeing their own country with fresh eyes and they see what’s going on. This is the country they fought for. No wonder they’re depressed. No wonder they’re scared.

Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets. I think the real question is if we can save ourselves.”

The times are scary. And depressing. Especially when what we are talking about is finding the will to save ourselves. I remain hopeful nonetheless. I see solutions evolving as we grapple with issues about who we are and what is important to us. I see energy being invested in learning how we can create a society, a culture, workplaces and home-spaces based around belonging and connection, rather than alienation and fear. I want to believe in a country rooted in respect for the individual and for the struggles of returning vets and all others facing exclusion, shame or isolation. Let’s use our talents to build a more inclusive community that can take those struggles, and through honest evaluation of our ills, make the case for greater justice and greater responsibility with all the urgency such concerns are due.

All quotations taken from:

Along with my sister, Elizabeth Hirsh, I will be working on be developing a new platform from which to distribute our material on viewing life changing events through the lens of psychological type (material formerly available through CPP, Inc. as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration). We are endeavoring to make the material more helpful, accessible and user friendly, in order to better reach anyone, including members of the US Armed Services, who could benefit from a framework for managing the transition “home to oneself” following a life changing event.

To learn more about our approach, please get in touch:


Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Coming home or coming apart: Are we losing the battle for peace on the home front?