Posts in Professional Growth
Hit the Road Jack
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I spent too much of my life at a job in a place that never wanted me, didn't appreciate me, who resented me even. Why did I stay so long in an environment that brought me down?

Looking back I should have left so many years earlier. I allowed the unhealthy workplace to eat away at my self-esteem, to make me question my worth, to make me feel as if I wasn't enough.

I should have walked out the first week, the first time I was demeaned by a coworker who thought they should be my boss. The first time I was pushed to tears. I don't do well with meanness, I never have, and I should have known if it happened to me on the first week of the job, it wasn't going to be an isolated event.

It continued to happen in little ways, and in big ways for 12 years. And I am sad to say, I let it. I should have walked away, dared to do something different, but I kept trying to fit in, to make it work, to fix it. It was a great place "on paper", and the job was something I could do and do well, and I loved the flexibility in my schedule. But it wasn't worth what I lost there. Underneath the pretend, I knew I wasn't welcomed by all, and trying to please, trying to prove my worth and be seen as valuable to those who would never care, was a huge waste of my precious energy.

Underneath the company's "make sure we look good from the outside" facade, was an inside filled with a good old boys network that I would never fit into. Women were second class citizens who did a lot of the work and who management allowed to be bullied by a small group of unhappy, negative male employees.

A leader, by dismissing his employees complaints or avoiding the awkward conversations to handle the inequities, in essence condones the bad behavior and allows the unfair, inappropriate bullying to continue to happen. Over time this creates an apathetic, unhealthy, unmotivated group of employees, led by the meanest of the mean. Any responsible, conscientious, highly sensitive person cannot survive unscathed working in a company with all that negative energy.

It certainly took a toll on me.

I stayed so long for several reasons; because I was scared to go elsewhere, because the flexibility of the schedule worked so well for me, and maybe deep down I wanted to prove them wrong.  I thought if I tried hard enough, they'd see my value. Therein was my biggest problem. Looking for value and recognition outside of yourself is always a recipe for disaster. No matter how great I tried to be, I was never going to hear what I wanted to hear from the management in that company, and it wore me down trying. I became anegative, critical, angry, overly sensitive shell of myself.

I am much stronger now, after several years away from that toxicity and lots of personal growth work. I was able to gain back my positivity, and my self-worth. Deep down I am still the same person I always was, but I now have confidence from within in my abilities and in myself again. If I were to have started at this place in my present state of mind, I would never have hung on so long. I would more than likely have never signed up to work there in the first place.

If life has you feeling negative, stuck, angry, sad, or numb -- take a look at it from all angles. Creating your ideal life is up to you. What situation in your life is dragging you down or making you feel you have lost your personal power? There is always a way out. Take it. You don't have to justify it to your parents, your siblings, your co-workers, or anyone else -- and don't let the naysayers tell you you can't just do what you love. They are the most stuck and will say things like that to keep you stuck as well. You can do what you love to do, if you dare.

It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else when you make changes to improve your life. If you feel the need to take a demotion, change your job or your career, say goodbye to a relationship that just isn't meant to be, or sell your huge house and live simpler, then give yourself permission to do it right now. The world will not see the full version of you, until you do. 

You have the reigns, you control the speed of your life and you choose where you work, who you stay with, where you live, and how you live. Stop listening to the advice of others who see your life from the outside as a completely different life than the one it feels like you are living inside. Shift that energy, disrupt the status quo and create your ideal life. I learned in the process that I was making life much harder than it had to be, by trying to change a broken system, to fit in where I wasn't meant to.

You deserve to be lifted up, not beaten down by the people surrounding you.  A good person, with good intentions, who has natural talent and deep sensitivity can find work or love or whatever you seek, but only if you trust in your own inner wisdom to lead the way.

Take that leap. Life is so much sweeter on the positive side.

Are You Stuck on Safe?

If you had a good friend who was all ready to move forward on something, something they believed strongly in but were holding back out of fear or self-doubt, would you do something to help them get started?

Of course you would.

Most people love to see others succeed. It inspires them to move forward with ideas and dreams of their own. And it sparks courage -- have you ever given yourself the pep talk that goes like this "well if so-and-so can do it, then so can I"? Unfortunately, most times the pep talk is as far as we get before our own doubts, fears, anxieties or over thinking creep in and stop us dead in our tracks.

Go back to my original question and imagine that the good friend I asked about was actually YOU. Would your answer be the same? Would you do something to help yourself move forward? Or would you hold back and throw up roadblocks in order to keep yourself "safe" ?

Ah ha!  If helping a friend is easier than helping yourself....a reassessment is needed.

You have to be willing to do at least as much for yourself, if not MORE than you would do for a  good friend, to get moving in the direction of your dreams. Focusing outward, on others and helping them take risks but being unwilling to take your own means you are living vicariously through them. In essence you aren't believing in yourself. You are keeping yourself stuck in order to keep yourself safe from failing. This can eventually lead to dark feelings of self-doubt, anger, guilt, depression, and hopelessness as you watch others around you succeed -- sometimes even succeeding in areas that you also could excel at. The results of keeping ourselves "safe" can actually result in the outcome we fear most ---failure.

So why do we so easily get distracted by others, offering assistance to them via our supporting words or a new connection that will further their ideas, instead of focusing on our own ideas and dreams? Because in helping a friend, we have no ownership of the outcome. We don't have to worry about feeling any shame or stress if they fail, so we can be brave for our friends at no risk to ourselves.

What we really need to do is be brave for ourselves.

So start believing in YOU. Trust in YOU. Support YOURSELF.

I do not say this lightly and I know from experience that this is also not an easy thing for many people to do: you need to put yourself first. It is necessary for our own well being and for those who depend on us to put ourselves at the front of the line. I spent years assisting others, watching them achieve what I wanted to achieve, watching them take risks I was too scared to take....because I was afraid (deep inside) that I might fail. And if I failed, I feared I would come unglued. But I have learned that I wasn't giving myself enough credit. I am strong, I can overcome failure. I can survive it. In fact, it doesn't render me helpless -- it did the reverse, it made me stronger. I am still learning to undo the patterns I once developed to keep myself protected so that I can begin to live life fully and not just go safely through the motions.

I realize now that being stuck on safe made life an uphill battle for me. In essence it made life so much harder than it needed to be. Are you doing the same?

What is stopping you from moving forward?

Are you afraid of failing? Are you stuck in your comfort zone? Or are you listening to the negative people around you, the ones who discourage you because they are afraid of pursuing their own dreams?

Your time is now. Stop thinking about it. Lead by example and DO IT.