Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Career Crisis or Something Else?

By Julie Marie Rahm

We humans have it all wrong. We have it upside down and backwards. What we think is significant is insignificant, and what we think is insignificant is HUGE! Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we think is troubling us is not really the problem. It's the little stuff that keeps us stuck. When our metaphorical "levels" let us know we are slipping into a negative place, it's time to pull out our metaphorical "flashlights" to shed light on the real situation.

Take our careers, for instance. We think we are in the wrong career or job when we really have a purpose problem. As I worked with one of my clients recently, she lamented about dreading going to work and being miserable while she was there. She actually felt guilty for those feelings as if she should be grateful for having a job when so many people are out of work. As we discussed her work days, we uncovered that she was dependent on external feedback to feel good. She needed acknowledgement and appreciation from her boss, which was not his style. Each time she completed a task and did not receive more than a grunt from him, it triggered years of feelings around being unappreciated and rejected that started in elementary school. She felt unimportant, like her efforts were wasted. And, it ruined not only the rest of her work day, but also her evening with her family.

Now that we had shed light on a real issue, we could deal with it. We took out her metaphorical "utility knife" and began to cut away the cord from the trigger of her boss' response to all of the past times she felt unappreciated and rejected. We simply eliminated the cumulative effects of those experiences and memories from her mind. When she thought of those times again she remembered them with neutrality, not negative emotion. The next time she delivered an assignment to her boss and received only a grunt in return, she was able to handle it well, because she had only that one moment of emotion to deal with. All of those past negative emotions no longer came flooding back, because we cut the cord and neutralized them.

Then we had a conversation about "purpose". We discussed that each task she did was her purpose. Whatever she was doing at any moment was her purpose in that moment. Her job was important to her company's success or her job would not exist. We used the "utility knife" again and eliminated the cumulative effects of her need for external feedback to make her feel good. In its place we strengthened her for self assurance of a job well done, and neutrality to receiving external feedback or not. Reaching neutrality around feedback provided her a choice - enjoying it when she got it, and being unphased when she didn't get it.

When she began her coaching sessions with me, she was ready to find a new line of work and look for a new job. Now, she enjoys her work days. And, her family enjoys her in the evenings.

Talking about what we think is our problem when it really isn't only exacerbates it. Developing the skills to find the real root of what tips our "levels" in the wrong direction and then eliminating that root permanently is the key to a peaceful and happy life, no matter what else is happening around us.

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