Subscribe to my mailing listGet a FREE e-book. One you can actually use, not just another PDF to download. Includes the article "Can You Afford NOT to change careers?" and 2 useful self-assessments
- Could not connect to Twitter
OK, so I don’t have a gratitude journal (or a fireplace). I was just going for a dramatic title.
There seems to be a trend in popular psychology towards content that goes like this: “Happy people think/do x and unhappy people think/do y, so get out there and start thinking/doing x if you want to be happy.” Happy people supposedly feel grateful for things in their life, so we are supposed to try to make that feeling happen by writing down things that we are grateful for.
If this works for you, then I’m not going to stop you. However, the deliberately practiced phrases bear little resemblance to the real experience of gratitude. The theory goes that if you keep practising gratitude in small ways, eventually the experience will show up in your life. The problem with that is….most people have the habit of hiding their real feelings, from others and even from themselves.
(How to tell if you are hiding your feelings? If you feel stress for more than a short period of time or that doesn’t lead to a rewarding outcome; overeat/drink/drug/shop/gossip to relieve stress; have any kind of “bad habit” from minor to major that you have trouble breaking; have anxiety or depression; and/or tend towards emotional outbursts….you are probably hiding your real feelings.)
So, if a habit of hiding your real feelings is how you got into your predicament in the first place, a deliberate attempt to feel some way that you don’t actually feel is not the best place to start. It could lead to even greater inner conflict (= anxiety).
So what is the alternative?
1) Feel what you feel, and don’t apologize for it. This could mean keeping a Complaints Journal! More on that here. (Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you necessarily act on them; it could be as simple as saying to yourself ”You know what, I feel really angry right now.” and watching what happens.)
2) Generate the underlying conditions that allow change to happen. Rather than concerning yourself with a specific result like gratitude, work on generating the causes of that result. In other words, do things that support you as a whole person. It’s not necessarily about feeling good right away; it could also be a practice that doesn’t always feel good while you’re doing it but you see the results in the long term (For me that includes yoga, SRI, singing, dance, supportive relationships)
A way to brainstorm what would support you as a whole person: you can ask yourself, what activities, practices and experiences nourish me mentally? physically? emotionally? spiritually?
Don’t take my word for it – experiment. See if you feel more energy, more movement, less stagnation (feeling better or more comfortable is not necessarily a sign that it’s working; the question to ask might be whether or not you feel more freedom).
Stop running away from your destiny.
It is going to catch up with you sooner or later.
And like a snowball,
rolling down a hill,
The longer it rolls,
the bigger it gets.
And the bigger it gets,
the heavier it gets.
And the heavier it gets,
The more it hurts when it hits you.
The hurt may be mental, it may be emotional, and it may even be physical.
Most people wait for a crisis to make a change in their life, a change that they have known for years (sometimes even many years) needed to happen.
It’s painful to confront unlived dreams, ignored needs.
You may try to escape it.
When problems hit in your life, you think you can solve them with information. Oh, I just need to manage my stress better. Oh, I could get a job if only I had a better resume, better interview skills, or networked with the right people.
There is nothing wrong with managing stress or learning some job search skills.
These things are beneficial, at the right time, and in the right situation.
Your soul doesn’t work that way.
Your soul also doesn’t give a hoot about “we all have to make these compromises, gotta pay the mortgage”.
Yes, we must be practical as well as fanciful.
But if you are unhappy,
and you rationalize it: “well everybody else has to do it, the economy sucks, I am lucky to have a job at all”
…think of that snowball, growing while you sleep.
You may ignore it, but you know what it is.
Will you be able to handle it when it hits?
It may sound hard to believe, but circumstance, even crisis, will stop at nothing until you are on the right path.
If you are not using your gifts, the message starts as a whisper, then a murmur, then a mumble, then a statement, then a raised voice, then shouting, then screeching, then breakdown.
Whatever will get you to listen.
You might be reading this saying, “What ‘gifts’? I am just an average person.”
Exactly. That’s how tricky the obstacles are. You will tell yourself anything to avoid the conflict between where you are now and those unrealized dreams, even to believe that you do not possess these gifts.
But there’s good news.
Self-awareness will give you greater “job security” in the long run. Not only that, when the inevitable challenging times arise, it will allow you to handle them better.
And this isn’t just about your career.
It’s about your life.
And you can start now.
You start by telling the truth.
Courtesy of Bill Jensen….shedding some new light on this idea of “entitlement”.
Elaine Aron (in “The Undervalued Self”) writes about linking and ranking. Linking is making a connection with someone, includes empathy and care, and is and based on
equality. Ranking is about status, competitive, and not based on equality. You can see both of these dynamics happening in interactions between people. Her theory is that we are born prepared for a certain amount of ranking, but her definition of trauma (paraphrased) is when we expect linking from a person or a group, and instead experience ranking (social defeat), in a manner that is shocking to us.
Why is this important to career choice? Even the most “independent” people will do in life and career what gets them love, what allows them to feel connected to others. If a given life path risked social isolation by your family and friends, would you take that path?
So when you know you need a change, but feel that you risk isolation by making the change, you have a couple of choices. You can go the self-improvement route, try to make yourself strong enough to stand completely on your own. I allow for the theoretical possibility that it works for some people. However, there are many it doesn’t work for, and some even go deeper into multi-thousand-dollar personal growth courses only to realize (if they can even acknowledge this to themselves) they have little to show for it. The best I can say about self-improvement is that it can have some effect, but it’s maybe not worth the struggle, time, effort and money.
Alternately, while you are on your career change journey, you can find a supportive community who will value you for who you really are at all times (not just when you speak the leader’s lingo, or have a “positive attitude”.)
How about you? I would be interested to hear from people who feel they really did “improve themselves” via self-improvement.
The root of the word solution means “to loosen”. And yet, in North American culture when we talk about solutions to problems, we often talk about tightening! Get a grip, regain control, restore order….
“Losing one’s grip on reality” or “loss of control” is associated with mental illness or a stressful situation at minimum.
Lack of control can be disempowering (feeling helpless or stuck), or it can be liberating (one is relieved of the obligation to accomplish the impossible).
People talk a lot about “letting go” or surrender. Do you find this easy to do? Or does it bring up deep fears, like “if I let go of control, everything will fall apart”?
Especially if you are self-employed, you are probably aware of the many, many services and products (seminars, e-books, webinars, courses) being sold, mainly over the Internet, promising business, financial and personal success.
Perhaps what I will write here will seem obvious to some, but given the ability of scammers to go on doing business, clearly there are still people falling for their scams. Furthermore, everything I write here is either something I have personally seen in marketing copy, or based on actual responses service providers have given me to questions. All of them happened within the last 4 years and most of them are within the past year, so people are still out there saying this stuff.
I have started to compile a list of what I think are signs, questions to ask yourself to determine whether you should trust a service provider. I don’t believe any of these factors are determinative in and of themselves, but when more than one is present it is time to get suspicious.
1) Does the service provider make a very bold claim about results, talking about taking it almost to the opposite extreme of how you feel now (e.g. from weakness/lack of control to ultimate power and mastery)? I will be fair and say that sometimes you need a coach or mentor to hold you in a state of possibility, and believe that you can accomplish something even if you don’t currently believe it, but making it extreme is one way to tell that they are not going to deliver on their promise.
2) Look carefully at their description of the service they offer. How much detail is provided about what actually goes on in the seminar? Especially be suspicious if it’s a very high cost program that they don’t say a lot about.
3) Is the promised substance of the service provided, or the results claimed, capable of an “alternate” description from the one given? (In other words, when you look at it, do you suspect you could cobble together a similar program based on everything you already have read on the Internet about the subject? Or is their description of the result you will get capable of a “lower” interpretation so that just about anything that may happen is covered by it? Seriously.)
4) Do they rationalize the high cost of the program by saying that “you have to be willing to make an investment in yourself” or similar?
5) Conversely, do they rationalize the high cost of the program by claiming the price is low, relatively speaking? For example, comparing an e-book to how much one might spend at a live seminar or training to learn the “same” material? (In which case it may not even be worth the “low” price you are paying for it.)
6) If you object to the price, do they tell you that you are operating in “scarcity mentality”? (Indeed I may be, but even if I were in “abundance mentality”, that doesn’t mean I would spend money on something when you haven’t convinced me it’s worth it.)
Or, if you object to the price, do they tell you “your health/business/whatever is worth it” – again, yes it may be worth it, but that doesn’t mean I should spend my money on your particular program.
7) Is there any “in crowd/out crowd” comparison made between the people who buy the program (e.g. “these are the people who take action”) and the ones that don’t?
8 ) Positive testimonials? These are par for the course nowadays, and no wonder, they are a powerful method of “social proof”. They may be telling the truth, but all I will advise here is, do not look at the testimonials as a sole factor for whether or not to buy something.
9) Everybody gives out “free” stuff these days. E-books for signing up for the email list, free teleseminars and webinars. And rightly so, it establishes the service provider as someone who knows what they are talking about. Be careful though. I suspect - and yes, this is total conjecture on my part, as I have not actually bought a paid seminar based on a free “teleseminar” before - that the more lacking in substance the free stuff is, the more lacking in substance the paid seminar will be.
Ask yourself when you listen to the teleseminar or read the e-book….is there any insight? Do you leave the call with new information or a new perspective you didn’t have before? Are there any exercises or material I can actually use here? Or do they use a lot of words without actually saying anything?
To be fair, they don’t want to give away all their content for free, but I think you have to be suspicious of someone who is even CAPABLE of doing a lot of talking without saying anything.
10) Does their sales page look like everybody else’s sales page? Big bold red text heading at the top, plain but bold centred text, same arrows and yellow “add to cart” button?
That’s it for now, I might add more as I think of them.
Have you been taken in by a scam before? I want to hear from you. There’s no shame in it, these people use sophisticated techniques and take advantage of natural human emotions, so don’t worry about admitting it here. I am interested to know what criteria you would add to this list from your learning experience.
Both of these articles refer to the United States, but I think they are relevant to Canada as well.
“We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don’t have are leaders.”
“U.S. public education and current calls for education reform are committed to maintaining the authority of the elite—not ensuring a thriving democracy, not honoring human dignity and agency.
We are raising birds in cages and demanding that they earn the right to fly.
We are raising pit bulls to fight and putting them to sleep for their violence.
We are forcing children to sit down, shut up, do as they are told, and then wondering why they can’t think for themselves. . .
We need to look in the mirror of public education and see ourselves for who we are, not what we claim to be.”
I have some pretty strong ideas about the factors that are most important for personal change. Or maybe I should say fulfillment, because most spiritual principles will tell you it is not about improving, it is about being. (And that The Task of Life is not to derogate or destroy either side of your nature, but to walk that tightrope between the instinctual and very natural drive towards endless wanting and seeking, and the recognition that you are already there.)
In any case, I’m curious.
What do you believe you need in order to change?
More…..motivation? Commitment? Information? Compassion? A hand up? A handout? Relationships? Time? Support? Opportunities? Connections?
Would you say that what you need is individual (your personal qualities and behaviours), interpersonal, or societal in nature?
And if you have made changes, what has worked for you?
I was just at a Meetup event where I received some unsolicited advice on my business. This wasn’t even a workshop, not someplace where it is assumed that things are open for review and you are open to feedback. It wasn’t even billed as a networking event. It was a social event.
Now, I know I don’t know everything, and I try to see other people’s points of view even if only theoretically. Listening to diverse points of view can be a learning experience. But what I found particularly inappropriate was that this was someone who had just met me. Not only that, they were not offering a suggestion, but rather trying to put me into a position where I had no choice but to agree with them.
It’s possible that as a <Highly Sensitive Person, I am more aware of these things (whether I want to be or not), experience them as someone trying to throw their energy at me, etc.
It’s hard to know friends well enough to “tell them what they should do”, let alone someone you just met. When you just met someone or they are an acquaintance, you simply don’t know the specifics of their situation well enough, and maybe more importantly you don’t know the specifics of them as a person.
Because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end, I have nearly eliminated the word “should” from my vocabulary, and I do not start sentences with the words “You should….” or “You need to….” It is simply not my place to say this to another person, and I believe that to do so is to impose one’s own truth on another person.
Some classes of people seem to be magnets for unsolicited advice. I know as soon as I told people I was starting my own business, that seemed to be a license for them to give me advice. I imagine new parents are in the same boat.
How about you? Have you ever received unsolicited advice in such a way that you were amazed at the person’s lack of tact, or you just felt limited or “boxed in” by what they said?
What kind of advice or support would have been more helpful for you?