Breakdown Breakthrough

The Professional Woman's Guide to Claiming a a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose

Kathy Caprino (Author)

Publication date: 10/01/2008

Breakdown Breakthrough

Kathy Caprino uses a comprehensive coaching, behavioral, and spiritual framework to explore how women can restore their power and reconnect with their life visions as they awake from the paralysis of professional dissatisfaction and personal diminishment.

Helps professional women experiencing feelings of disempowerment and dissatisfaction regain the confidence, courage, and energy to take control of their lives
Identifies 12 crises professional women face today and offers specific advice and tools for overcoming them
Draws on interviews with over one hundred women, offering inspiring stories and practical advice for addressing and resolving disempowerment

Thousands of professional women, though outwardly successful, find themselves in the midst of a crisis, believing that they’ve sacrificed meaning, fulfillment, and balance in their lives to achieve work-related success. Their lives feel unmanageable—and they are confused, blocked, overwhelmed and unable to move forward effectively. Kathy Caprino sheds light on this growing epidemic of disempowerment and shows women how to reinvigorate and reclaim their lives.

Breakdown, Breakthrough uses a comprehensive coaching, behavioral, and spiritual framework to explore how women can restore their power and reconnect with their life visions as they awake from the paralysis of professional dissatisfaction and personal diminishment. Caprino outlines a new model for understanding disempowerment, one that focuses on women’s relationships with themselves, with others, with the world, and with what she calls their higher selves. She identifies twelve specific challenges professional women face and offers concrete, practical advice for overcoming each one—helping readers “step back, let go of what is holding them back, and say yes” to creating a compelling and rewarding next chapter of life and work.

This is also a deeply personal book. Caprino candidly discusses her own struggles with crippling feelings of disempowerment, and shares moving stories and heartfelt advice gleaned from her interviews with over one hundred women who experienced and overcame the crises she describes. Breakdown, Breakthrough offers working women who are stressed, stuck, and dissatisfied access to new inspiration, hope, and a definite plan of action.

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Overview

Kathy Caprino uses a comprehensive coaching, behavioral, and spiritual framework to explore how women can restore their power and reconnect with their life visions as they awake from the paralysis of professional dissatisfaction and personal diminishment.

Helps professional women experiencing feelings of disempowerment and dissatisfaction regain the confidence, courage, and energy to take control of their lives
Identifies 12 crises professional women face today and offers specific advice and tools for overcoming them
Draws on interviews with over one hundred women, offering inspiring stories and practical advice for addressing and resolving disempowerment

Thousands of professional women, though outwardly successful, find themselves in the midst of a crisis, believing that they’ve sacrificed meaning, fulfillment, and balance in their lives to achieve work-related success. Their lives feel unmanageable—and they are confused, blocked, overwhelmed and unable to move forward effectively. Kathy Caprino sheds light on this growing epidemic of disempowerment and shows women how to reinvigorate and reclaim their lives.

Breakdown, Breakthrough uses a comprehensive coaching, behavioral, and spiritual framework to explore how women can restore their power and reconnect with their life visions as they awake from the paralysis of professional dissatisfaction and personal diminishment. Caprino outlines a new model for understanding disempowerment, one that focuses on women’s relationships with themselves, with others, with the world, and with what she calls their higher selves. She identifies twelve specific challenges professional women face and offers concrete, practical advice for overcoming each one—helping readers “step back, let go of what is holding them back, and say yes” to creating a compelling and rewarding next chapter of life and work.

This is also a deeply personal book. Caprino candidly discusses her own struggles with crippling feelings of disempowerment, and shares moving stories and heartfelt advice gleaned from her interviews with over one hundred women who experienced and overcame the crises she describes. Breakdown, Breakthrough offers working women who are stressed, stuck, and dissatisfied access to new inspiration, hope, and a definite plan of action.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Kathy Caprino

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a nationally-recognized women’s work-life expert, executive and career coach, author, and speaker specializing in helping women gain empowerment and self-mastery to navigate successfully through major challenges. She is the author of the book Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose, which reveals the key findings from her yearlong national research study – identifying the 12 ‘hidden’ crises of professional women, including chronic health problems, failure to find work-life balance, and painful losses of the ‘real me.’ It also shares 14 deeply personal stories – her own included – and shows how women are overcoming crises of personal and professional identity.

Founder/President of Ellia Communications, Inc. and former partner and co-founder of Living in Haromy – The Center for Emotional Health in Connecticut, Ms. Caprino is a sought-after writer and speaker on professional women’s issues. She draws on her training in coaching and psychotherapy with families and systems, original research, high-level business experience, and work with hundreds of professionals each year to provide effective, targeted programs that help individuals and groups achieve growth in key areas of life and work.

For more information, please write to Kathy.

Visit Kathy’s Breakdown, Breakthrough Website and Breakdown, Breakthrough Blog.

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Table of Contents



Preface

Introduction: The Power of Yes!

The Disempowerment Dilemma
1. Breakdown in Professional Women—Why Now?
2. Recognizing When You’re in Professional Crisis
3. A New Model for Empowered Living

Empowerment with Self

4. Resolving Chronic Health Problems
5. Overcoming Loss
6. Achieving Self-Love

Empowerment with Others

7. Speaking Up with Power
8. Breaking Cycles of Mistreatment
9. Shifting from Competition to Collaboration

Empowerment with the World
10. Escaping Financial Traps
11. Using Real Talents in Life and Work
12. Helping Others and the World

Empowerment with Higher Self
13. Falling Together After Falling Apart
14. Balancing Life and Work
15. Doing Work and Play You Love

Conclusion:
Claiming Your Passion, Power, and Purpose

Resources
Empowerment Guide
Recommended Reading, Websites, and Groups
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
About the Author

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Excerpt

Breakdown, Breakthrough

INTRODUCTION

The Power of Yes!

* * *

Sweet are the uses of adversity.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 1

Defining Professional “Crisis”

What is true crisis in our lives? How can we tell we’re heading into crisis, rather than simply going through a really bad time? What are the signs of breakdown? This chapter explains what professional crisis is for women today. You’ll learn what working women lack when they are in crisis, as well as the many benefits of moving forward to breakthrough.

As defined in Webster’s dictionary,1 a “crisis” is:

Image The turning point for better or worse, as in an acute disease or fever

Image A paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function

Image An emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life (a midlife crisis )

Image The decisive moment (as in a literary plot)

Image An unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome (a financial crisis)

Image A situation that has reached a critical phase (the environmental crisis)

Clearly, we’re talking about a no-turning-back situation—a time that calls for a reckoning and reevaluation. Crisis involves the occurrence of a deeply troubling, heart-wrenching, or grueling event or series of events that brings you to a recognition, finally and irrevocably, that change must occur now. Crisis pushes you to your knees and cracks open your awareness that to repeat this experience (feeling/event/situation) would be close to intolerable.

Breakdown in the professional arena means that you have discovered beyond a doubt that how you work, what you work on, who you work with, who you are when you work, or where you work—one or more of these elements are causing damage to you, your life, your body, and your spirit. Breakdown often seems to strike out of the blue, yet we rarely get to this point without warning signs along the way.

Crisis may look different for each person, but one unifying theme defines it: Crisis is a wake-up call that demands your attention and reveals that major change in life or work is required, and fast.

Why Focus on Professional Women in Crisis?

Women typically feel powerless and are breaking down in the professional arena in ways that men are not. This is not to say that men do not struggle with professional and personal crises; of course they do. In fact, many of the challenges discussed in this book will resonate with men. (Based on my many conversations with men, my next book may be Breakdown, Breakthrough II for men!)

Breakdown, Breakthrough is not about finding fault—in men or women. Thousands of women—myself included—can say that some of our best and strongest mentors have been men. Also, many women reveal that their most significant challenges have been with female bosses and colleagues. The goal of this book is not to focus on one specific professional dilemma, but to help you gain clarity on your personal and professional situation and identity—whatever it may be—to assist you in moving successfully through your challenges. To do so, we need a new model or guide for empowered living that speaks directly to each of our particular sets of challenges.

What Are Women in Crisis Lacking?

What are professional women longing for when breakdown occurs? Women who have gone through significant professional transition reveal that when they were in professional crisis, they struggled with the absence of one or more of the following benefits of a fully empowered life.

They yearned for, but couldn’t find the way to:

Image Honor or express their various facets

Image Respect both the work they do and their colleagues, and be respected in turn

Image Be treated fairly

Image Earn the money they need to

Image Expand their self-reliance

Image Achieve “quality of life,” flexibility, or control over what they do and how they do it

Image Balance their numerous important life roles

Image Make a significant positive difference in the world and in the lives of others

Image Utilize their voices, talents, and abilities

Image Contribute fully in ways that reflect their unique needs and values without being negatively judged or diminished

Professional breakdown, then, involves realizing that you are struggling—and failing—to attain a positive life experience that includes passion, power, purpose, security, integrity, self-reliance, and balance. For some, addressing crisis and making room for positive life change requires a good deal of inner and outer work. But for others, small tweaks in a critical dimension are enough.

For all individuals, breaking through to positive life change involves three powerful steps:

1. Step back to disentangle from your situation and gain a fresh, expanded perspective.

2. Let go of negative thinking and actions that hold you back.

3. Say yes! to honoring yourself and taking action toward what compels you.

Benefits of Addressing Crisis and Saying Yes! to Yourself

After living in the midst of crisis for a long time, women often feel chronically debilitated, depressed, angry, or sick. They may feel unable to live fully or experience meaning and joy, or be present for those they love and care for. Once you awaken to the sense that you are somehow thwarted and not living up to your potential, you feel discomfort and pain.

As you begin your exploration, the difficulty of your experiences may seem to be draining you of the energy needed to start the process of change. But those who have lived through this period have said, “Once I took the first step of examining what was not working, I began to feel hopeful that things could change. It seemed as if an enormous weight had lifted, and I knew then that I could do what I needed to.”

The benefits of taking the first step, and gaining even small degrees of power to overcome professional breakdown, are enormous. You will begin to:

Image Make friends with yourself and your body, and understand the information your physical condition reveals

Image Enjoy stronger, healthier, more connected relationships that are based on empathy and respect rather than conflict and competition

Image Recognize the influence of your ego and learn how to integrate it with other aspects of yourself

Image Find enjoyable, purposeful work that sustains you

Image Access inspiration and helpful support when you need it

Image Discover your unique purpose that gives meaning to your life and work, and live from that knowledge each day

Image Embrace change rather than fight it

Image Live more joyfully and passionately

Image Thrive and grow through life’s challenges

The growth experience of breaking through your struggles transforms all aspects of your life. Ample evidence shows that women are finding new ways to successfully deal with major professional crises and are reaching new levels of success and satisfaction. Overcoming breakdown, and finding new meaning in life and work, is not only a possibility but a necessity—and a blessing—for thousands of women today.

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Endorsements



“Finally, a book written specifically for women stuck in professional crisis. Caprino provides warm, intelligent, and much-needed guidance, plus a sound methodology, for breaking free and gaining lasting personal and professional satisfaction.”

—Julie Jansen, author of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This

“The flow between riveting true stories and the lessons learned from them makes this book not only impossible to put down but a must-read for women at any age and any stage in their careers.”

—Sharon Jordan-Evans, executive coach and co-author of Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work


“A great resource for any woman contemplating a career change that validates her self. I especially liked the combination of the psychological thought processes along with the concrete steps to make the change. The experiences of others who have been through it is very helpful as well.”

— Nancy Mark, former Director, Lotus Development, and former Senior Manager, IBM


“Kathy invites the reader to reveal what already lives inside. What makes Kathy’s book even more powerful is her willingness to share her personal experiences. Suddenly you feel as if you’re sitting on your living room couch with your best friend, feeling a bit more confident, and decidedly not alone in your journey.”

—Laurie Howlett, Vice President of the Board of Trustees, Westchester Exceptional Children’s School, and former Vice President of Marketing, Fortune Magazine Group


Breakdown, Breakthrough does what so many books promise and so few deliver. It tackles a huge issue, recommends solutions, and then provides real, practical tools to get you from where you are today to your breakthrough. Empathic, powerful, and inspiring. Bravo.”

—Noah Blumenthal, author of You’re Addicted to You: Why It’s So Hard to Change—and What You Can Do About It

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