What Does It Mean to Be Actively Disengaged?

It was a typical day for Nancy. She was stuck in traffic on her drive home following a long day of teaching high school. Her schedule was still full. She had three children to feed and help with their homework. Then she needed to put in a few hours at her second job, proofreading for a publishing company. She also needed to spend some time paying the family bills and updating the shopping list. Nancy secretly hopes that the kids wouldn’t require more of her attention than planned. Nancy’s chemo meds were taking their toll on her energy level. She needs her rest. With a little bit of luck, she will reach her bed a little after midnight.

In the meantime, her husband, Jerry, sits in his favorite recliner, which is heavily stained from spilled drinks and snack crumbs. He stares mindlessly at the 52” screen watching sitcom reruns for the hundredth time.  Jerry put in a full day at his job too. As a delivery driver, Jerry is miserable at work. He doesn’t get along with his co-workers and he resents his superiors. His only objective is to go to work and go home with the least amount of contact with others and providing just enough effort to stay employed. Nothing more.

A few years back, Jerry was dismissed from a management position due to downsizing. In that job, he felt fulfilled and well-compensated. Jerry enjoyed being connected with the people he managed and loved making a difference at work. Despite his exhaustive search, Jerry had failed to replace that position with something he felt he deserved. Over time, Jerry became stuck and miserable. He told Nancy that the cards were stacked against him, listing a whole host of excuses disguised as reasons. He had lost all hope and was unwilling to try to help himself, even for the sake of his family. Jerry is actively disengaged.

Actively disengaged employees are characterized as those that go beyond being unhappy at work, to being fully involved in displaying their discontent. It shows in their posture and their demeanor. They often become the energy vampires of their department as they spew their negativity, thereby undermining the entire organization even if, “just a little at a time.” They are often jealous and resentful, and they secretly hope the company fails. If they can identify a fellow employee who is also actively disengaged, the two of them will likely form a strong bond. They can be spotted at the watercooler or in the smoking area ranting negatively with more vengeance than two angry, porch-sitting, gossiping old ladies. Their pessimism goes beyond having a destructive effect on their work environment. They unknowingly take their behavior everywhere they go affecting every area of their life and keeping them stuck.

Most often, for a person like Jerry to reengage in life, he will require a sort of jump-start – some type of life-altering event that will jolt him into a new reality. Although Jerry is aware that his wife, the one with two jobs and the responsibility of holding down the homestead, is on her third go-round of cancer, this isn’t enough to jolt him into reality. Jerry would most likely benefit from professional help.

Anthony lives across the street from Jerry. Tony, as his friends call him, has an intriguing background, one that has taken him from the depths of poverty and drug abuse to running a successful business. He just bought the house near Jerry’s and moved in with his new wife and his lovely adopted daughter.

At one point in his life, Tony was disengaged too; having little passion for his work or his life. The main emphasis for him was driving a profit from his efforts. If there was a marginal profit and he could keep the rent paid, the lights on, and buy more drugs, Tony felt he had done enough. Adding to his disconnection from life was a long history of broken professional and personal relationships. Although Tony wasn’t actively disengaged, he was still sleepwalking through his life.

But Tony received his jumpstart! It came in the form of a chronic health condition. The years of neglect and abuse to his body, mind, and spirit had manifested in a full-blown medical condition that the doctors could not cure. Finally, when the pain of his situation became too severe, Tony took a chance. “Anything has to be better than this!” he thought.

Although Tony’s finances were limited, he found his way to me and created a way to make it happen. We began breaking down and realigning his belief system so that his body could heal. As with all my clients, Tony started his life-healing journey with the Energy Leadership Index Assessment. Following his assessment review session, he had a clear understanding of how his thoughts and beliefs were keeping him sick and stuck. He immediately began implementing what he had learned and was able to recognize when his energy was dipping into the danger zone, and he knew what to do about it. Tony was engaging in life.

What followed was six months of coaching to ensure Tony continued to practice what he had learned. In addition, I assisted him in clearly defining what he wanted from life and how to get it. Tony was encouraged to think big – to understand that the only limits that truly existed were in his mind.

In time, Tony began to feel more and more confident, and that confidence grew into increased engagement. Suddenly, Tony was experiencing success, not only with his health but in all areas of his life. He was becoming more and more passionate about life, and his level of engagement began to skyrocket as he decided to play full-out in the game of life! Sure, Tony experiences difficult days and setbacks as we all do, but the difference is that now Tony knows how to manage times like these. If he feels stuck, he schedules a session with me. He is committed to looking for opportunities everywhere and he consistently finds them! Tony is actively engaged.

It is necessary to point out that Nancy’s behavior is characterized as “disengaged.” Despite everything she must deal with, she permits Jerry to be a liability to the family’s well-being. Although Nancy’s pain is great and she knows the stress is negatively contributing to her illness, she hasn’t reached the point where she is willing to take action to facilitate positive change.

How would you categorize yourself?

  • Actively Disengaged
  • Disengaged
  • Engaged
  • Actively Engaged

If you chose anything other than actively engaged, know that you have options! Everybody does. If you’re ready to explore those options, to get off the bench and get in the game of life, contact me for a Discovery Session and let’s discuss what’s possible for you.

Teresa Bruni

Teresa Bruni, The Healer - Assisting individuals in healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually through discovering and dissolving fear, grief, trauma, heartache, and pain.