Photo by Mario Azzi on Unsplash
I had an epiphany the other day while shopping for a new book to read. I recognized I was putting a lot of pressure on this book (whichever one I chose), to bring me new insights and to fire up my brain. It occurred to me I was putting the accountability for that very personal process in the hands of something else (in this case consumerism) and I wondered, “Where else in my life might I have done that?” As it turns out, I’ve done it a lot. I put confidence into the “institution” of marriage in my early 20’s without a lot of thought as to what it would require of me (it’s been an interesting 24 year journey of discovery ever since). I’ve done it with certification processes (to give me credibility with others) and fitness plans (to magically get me “in shape”). In all of those cases, I was empowering the process, but not myself. I wasn’t putting faith and confidence in myself to do or be what it was I needed, the onus was being placed on an outside institution, process or thing to see me through. From this new vantage point (staring at my on-line shopping cart) I could see there was a time where anything I felt I was missing I sought out externally to fill the void (belonging, self-esteem, success, etc.), abdicating both my needs, and the accountability to meet my own needs, passing it on to something or someone else. That’s a lot of power to give away…and they were not accountable acts.
Fortunately there are “life forces” that push us to rise to the occasion; my marriage has happily continued because before long I recognized that a marriage requires both intention and attention, it’s not a “check the box” life activity that just does it’s thing without effort. My career has been much the same; the view from the rear-view mirror is not flattering, but it did get better with experience. I placed confidence in my profession, not necessarily myself, when I entered the professional workforce (because I believed in human resources in ways I could never have believed in myself at the time). Because I did not believe in both myself and my profession I experienced the same uneven results I have with anything where I abdicated (consciously or unconsciously) some aspect of my own accountability, empowerment and worth. When I relied on some outside entity to make me grow, be happy, successful, etc. I didn’t get that in meaningful ways. When I was the one taking responsibility for my own needs, voila! Deep contentment and sustained results. It begs the question, are you placing faith in yourself first or are you relying on something outside yourself to fill a need? Do you honour, love and believe in yourself? Those first years in the professional workforce were very confusing for me; I had a degree, I had found a profession and become credentialed…why wasn’t it working? The rear-view mirror isn’t flattering, but it can be incredibly informative.
I left the shopping site without a book, but with more self-awareness and a new perspective on my life that is invaluable. I’ll be back to shop for a book, but only when I know what it is I actually need. The lesson in all of this is if you have faith in yourself, nothing can take it away; and if you don’t, nothing else can replace it. Do not be a bystander in your own life. If you do, you leave yourself at the mercy of entities whose main objective isn’t to do this for you, but who might be able to help you to do it for and by yourself (if you are paying attention). Empower and own your own great potential.
You’ve experienced a rough patch at work. Rough patches exist for many reasons and can happen when you least expect it (or want it). Things are going along fine, you feel you have that “balance” thing everyone says is important; work and home life are going well, and whammo. Rough patch. Yet you’ve decided to stay with your current employer despite this experience. You recognize the benefits of staying outweigh the rough patch…and yet you cannot seem to get past that period of time when neither your needs nor your expectations were meet by the organization you trusted. It keeps coming up for you, building resentment, frustration and disappointment, affecting your well-being and getting in the way of being able to trust again.
No one makes the decision to stay with an employer who has breached some aspect of their trust lightly. It is a decision full of anguish. Once that decision is made what follows is the hope that everything will go back to the way it was before. On this path of hope arise new expectations; acknowledgement from your employer that mistakes were made, there may even be expectations of an apology. This is dangerous territory, because none of those things may be possible. Not that there shouldn’t be apologies and acknowledgments when trust is broken, but this is murky territory where your employer may have no real idea how you were impacted or how you perceived the breech of trust. Thinking “How could they not know?” is not the same as having a clear, compassionate, conversation with your employer about the rough patch, while remaining open to understanding all sides of it (their side may be very different). Your employer may have no idea what you went through.
Or perhaps they do and conversations were had, your manager was aware of your concerns and addressed them…but your manager was not the problem, and as far as you can see you are at risk of being impacted again by something similar because there are no assurances the same set of circumstance will not arise again to create another rough patch. You have a concern with someone outside of your sphere of influence and you have no idea how to resolve these feelings of resentment without coming off, well, resentful. It’s a tough spot to both be in and be productive at work (never mind feeling good about yourself in your work).
Consider owning your truth in all of this, which means figuring out specifically how the impact of this made you feel (“I felt disrespected” is a truth statement giving you something material to discuss; “You disrespected me” is a judgment that will inflame an already emotional situation). Once in touch with your truth, look at your expectations and find out how well they will serve you in the conversations you need to have; are they based on truth or judgment? Are they based on need or desire? Is compassion present for you and your employer? Only when you can look at the rough patch with objectivity and compassion is it wise to initiate conversations to explore what went wrong and how to prevent future breeches of trust. You never forget the way a breech of trust made you feel, but much like a tree growing around a foreign object without letting it impede it’s quality of life, so to do breeches of trust diminish in time; never disappearing but because our experience grows around them, they take up less and less space within us, allowing us to move on.
Other blogs you may find useful:
How The Truth Sets You Free (At Work)
I Want To Stay Where I Work (But It Might Be Time To Go)
Getting Over A Toxic Employer
Photo by Alistair MacRobert on Unsplash
Around this time of the year I lose access to contentment – I get the “July blues”, it happens every summer. There is no reason for it, in fact the conditions in my life are never better than they are in summer to relax; my workload is lighter, the weather is often beautiful (always beautiful if you compare it to the weather mid-January in Canada). My family is happy and healthy, having fun summer adventures, and a vacation is right around the corner. So what gives?
I look for patterns and trends to “diagnose” my rut. There must be a problem somewhere in there that I can solve; these things don’t just happen for no reason (right?)! And that is what perpetuates my fugue…an attachment to there being a reason. Whether there is one or not is less important than my ability to be open to what is happening in the moment and letting that guide me into what is next. In other words, we cannot find our well-being and contentment in the same place where we lost it. Albert Einstein probably illuminated this best when he said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Ruts beget deeper ruts if all I focus on is “diagnosing what’s wrong”.
So what to do? Remembering that my contentment is always available to me, that it is a constant stream that threads throughout my whole life with perpetual access, is the key. It is the same for each of us. I often write about the difficulties of the human way of being, the struggles we each face to be our best, etc. Here there is a beautiful benefit to being human, for while we may often focus on the things that are not as we want them, the human way of being is a balanced equation. We may not always get what we want, but we always have access to what we need, as long as we are willing to get out of our own way to access it.
Getting out of my way meant not putting so much emphasis on striving to wring every last bit of gratitude and pleasure out of our very short summer season. To stop comparing my summer to the photos of other people’s summers. To recognize when I put conditions on my enjoyment, like having the “right” summer weather, everyone in a good mood, or a fun, new activity planned (with easy parking). To be better able to be in the moment, feeling the sunshine on my face, enjoying my garden, listening to the cicadas or tasting the rain. Counting the stars at night. Not eliminating my expectations, but recognizing when I have one and checking to see if it is serving my well-being in any meaningful way, and when it doesn’t, giving myself permission to let it go.
In a healthy life, peacefulness resides in each of us, but only if we have the courage to embrace it. Go on, run through your sprinkler, I’ll bet it’s been years since you’ve done that!
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I believe in empowering others in many tangible ways. When I learn new career strategies or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website.