Career Challenges: Searching for that next solution and feeling like you’re at the end of your rope
When facing work challenges, such as a difficult boss or a colleague, the first step for many is to resolve them as you would your job: by thinking through the solutions. However, work challenges are rarely related to how you do your job. It is outside of it and includes many other aspects. How to approach the problems, in that case, is what we are addressing in this article.
I talked with a potential client recently, and it is a story that keeps repeating. You have a work challenge, and you feel like your environment is unhealthy, so you address the problem you see: your colleagues, your boss… And the situation seems impossible to change. What is the solution?
It's not outside but in you.
As I tell you this, I know that you feel it as the truth deep inside. It is in you. And this is where true personal empowerment lies. It is what it means to lead a fulfilled life. Not that you don’t have outside challenges, but knowing that you are supported and have enough resources to overcome them.
In layman’s terms, the easiest way to go from a toxic work environment to a healthy environment is to start by healing toxicity inside yourself.
What does that mean? The easiest way we can describe it is by turning the negative energy into a positive one, or at least neutral, since, at that point, your body knows what to do through innate intelligence. And how to do that? By going from a mental space to your body.
This, again, may not be easy to understand.
It sounds pretty simple.
Go to my body? I am in my body. I do yoga, exercise, go to the gym, and go for a massage… I feel my body well enough now. Thank you very much. :)
However, this is not what we’re talking about here. To feel your body would mean going outside of the mental plane. It is letting go of knowing what to do completely. Developing another skill that includes a fulness of who you are, and this? This is scary. This means looking at yourself in the mirror from the outside. It means stopping and letting go of all perceived benefits that the next action may bring. It means feeling like you are falling behind.
But if you allow it, only then are you ready to start.
I’ve seen it so many times. People get stuck since they believe they can think their way out of a situation. They think of the next steps: the next action, the next outside change, the next certification, the next job. And then, if they stop and reflect, they may come to understand that things are starting to repeat over again.
You got so used to thinking that all problems could be resolved mentally that you forgot… You are much more than your mind.
Your thoughts are not who you are. They are the products of your past and can often lead you astray. In fact, your thoughts are just a tiny part of your brain activity and the only part you can control (sometimes, at best). All else? Unconscious. One example is a great 'enemy of the mind' since it cannot be controlled: your emotions.
not acknowledging all parts of who you are is what makes you feel like you’re spinning in place. It’s because only one part of you is moving: your wheels that wants to take action at all cost. It is not going to happen without all parts being aligned. Otherwise, your wheels are spinning but you are not going anywhere.
Let’s get out of this loop by first getting the terminology right.
Let’s think about this in terms of a root cause and a surface or outside problem. The outside problem is what you see and try to find solutions for. It’s a problematic relationship with your coworker, a lack of support from your boss, an inability to concentrate at work, a lack of motivation to wake up or dread Monday. It may feel like it’s all becoming too much.
On the other hand, the root cause stays and makes the outside problem repeat in different circumstances.
The problem is that your solutions, coming from the mental plane, cannot address the root cause. Why? One reason is that the answers from your thoughts are prone to be distorted due to a career, or more precisely, a lifetime, of exposure to toxicity. Something you never learned how to deal with and that accumulated over the years. In other words, your thoughts are corrupted. The information there is sometimes valid, and many times not.
While your mind is a powerful tool, it cannot help you in this situation.
To heal a root cause, you’d need to reconnect to the truth of who you are. Putting aside for a moment, what does that mean… In that case, your authentic voice, which isn’t a voice at all but rather inner knowing or intuition, will point more consistently to the truth you can rely on to find valid solutions. However, there is no way to get there without addressing all the dark (and, let’s face it, shitty) emotions accumulated over time. Where are they? You can feel them being triggered, again and again, reminding you they are there.
Emotions are linked not just to your brain but to your whole body. This is why we previously mentioned that going from a mental space to your body is so important.
How to heal your root cause? Address all the terrible “shit” accumulated there (pardon my French). Everything from your past that makes you cringe, feel crushed, betrayed, or ashamed…This is exactly the part that propels you to take that next action… And never look back. Since the truth is… that’s easier. Taking action seems to lead somewhere. *It seems* like it’s getting you forward… to something. It’s much easier than stopping and reflecting. It’s much easier than looking back and facing all you’ve accumulated in your body that may at this point take months or years to heal.
If you are there, searching for solutions by going from one activity to the next, I feel it. The reason I know it so well is because I was there. I was looking for the next high of accumulating new knowledge or the next action step, only to realize that… I did learn a lot, and things changed around me, but it didn’t change me or my situation on a deeper level.
The trap is that it seems like the next thing will solve it.
Until it doesn’t.
Soon, I realized there was something flawed in this approach. And that’s something I’m trying to convey to you in this article. The reason why I’m writing this is for you to get it. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to stop wasting your time. Many need to face incredible pain to be open to this simple truth. It’s not all about taking action. It is also not all about accumulating knowledge. These past ways can only get you so far.
Your past ways won’t get you to a new destination. Since as many, you may have been taught to solve all your problems as they were mathematical equations, it may not be easy to understand other ways. You have become accustomed to solving problems on a mental level, but how do we find a solution when we have mental issues like stress? Einstein is credited with saying that your solutions are not on the same level as your problems, and this sums it up.
You need to develop a new skill that does not rely on your mental ability. And this takes time.
The solution to your work challenges is not mental at all. I understand this can be triggering for many, since the next question that pops up... But what else is there then?
Well, a whole world. It all opens up as you let go, and face your challenges, all negativity in your body, all shitty and ugly. Only by addressing that part, you can move your wheels freely and in the right direction.
Ivana Pazek helps organizations, as well as individuals in healing from the toxic culture and establishing more positive and balanced ways of working. [Ref1]
New Book on Toxic Work Environment: Wolves in Red Hoods: Understand and deal with the creators of a toxic work environment. [Ref4]
Ref4) Wolves in Red Hoods: Understand and deal with the creators of a toxic work environment, by Ivana Pazek, ivanabooks.com.
Ref5) Photo Credit: pexels.com/ pexels.com.
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