Forgiveness + career.
They go together. They belong together. They influence and affect one another. But very rarely are they ever spoken of in the context of togetherness.
Too often it is the lack of forgiveness that prevents you from being the person you want to be doing the job you want to be doing. Or even knowing what that is to begin with.
The first signs of non-forgiveness come across during the interview process in the context for what’s known as the dreaded “situational” or “behavior-based” interview questions. In particular the ones about how you handle conflict at work or when you are asked to describe a challenge you faced or why you left your last job.
They’re asking for you to tell a story about yourself at your worst. Arg!
Or are they?
Maybe what lies within the context of this question is an opportunity for you to show yourself at your best: To demonstrate how and if you possess the ability to forgive others as well as yourself for trespasses.
A lack of forgiveness is in fact the unresolved, the pain and the fear that is residual and it comes across in how you answer. Your misstep is just in focusing on what you say, rather than taking into consideration what you’re emanating.
It’s hard to talk about it at all isn’t it? A sure sign that forgiveness is missing.
And so, prospective employers are left trying to select not really the right candidate for the job, but rather the person who has the defenses that they feel that they can live with the best. That’s pretty crazy and you know when you interview candidates yourself, this is really what you’re faced with.
So, why not instead be the “no brainer” choice because you have the ability and have taken the time to do the work of embracing being human which includes learning how to forgive?
Lack of forgiveness comes from needing to blame someone. There’s a predictable anatomy to the blame-game:
Whether the situation or relationship was with yourself, your boss, your colleague, the student, the client, the customer, the Board – something happened that you wanted to be different than it was. And now you harbour strong wishful feelings that things were different than they actually are now that all is said and done.
You cannot accept that what happened happened as it did. You cannot accept the humanness of the situation because then you have to contend with being mortal and imperfect and this is somehow offensive to the ego.
What forgiveness does is offer you the ability to see how each person acted to bring about the regrettable particular outcome. All conspired for a certain outcome because of self-expectation and expectations you placed on others that they didn’t nor can’t live up to.
If you removed the blame, you could see that everyone played a role and that no one person is to blame.
Forgiveness is a choice. And one you must choose if you want freedom from the past in order to never fear re-creating the past again in the now.
From my own experience and all of the clients I’ve ever had the honor of serving on the road to true career fairy tale making, here are 6 things that universally need your acknowledgement for the spell of forgiveness to begin:
1:: Forgive yourself for trying to hide the fact that you don’t actually get along with everyone at work.
You were conditioned to be socialized rather than to live a truthful existence. And as a child you were made to believe that you had to get along with everyone – or at least make it look good. Right?
And now getting along with everyone at work is supposedly the pinnacle of what it means to be professional.
That just really dishonors your purpose for being and rather than feel like you’re contributing in your work your energy gets used up to maintain a certain level of likability through internal and external manipulation that ends up making you hate yourself.
When you really acknowledge the truth of the situation it is this: Anyone who loves you loves you because they want to. Anyone who hates you hates you because they want to. You actually have no say in the matter.
2:: Forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be spoken to in a ways that do not respect nor honor you.
We live in a culture where we are not only asked to trade our time for money, but also our self-respect. Believe me, it’s in there in the subtext because work is tied to not only contribution but your ability to take care of your survival needs. It’s quite the frustration and confusion to sort out without some guidance actually. In particular about how you can keep your survival needs covered while honouring and respecting yourself and others through difficult human emotions – especially when you’re in the position of lesser authority.
Here’s what happens:
Rather than acknowledge their anger in life serving ways (because yes, anger is there to be of service to life as it is a feeling as legitimate as all the rest), in hierarchical relations where you can be fired, Mr. or Ms. CEO has taken their anger out on you. This is distinctly different from expressing anger in an articulate way knowing full well that others don’t cause your anger, they merely trigger what was already within to begin with.
What you’ve done here is made it okay for others to take their anger out on you – which is the most un-life serving interaction that can exist.
We ask ourselves to put up with a lot for a pay cheque not ever considering that it doesn’t have to be this way. The real issue lies in learning how to seek out and get the help you need so that you can learn how to engage differently with yourself and others in a way that doesn’t diminish anyone. Believe me, if you really knew how to, you’d have done it by now.
3:: Forgive that the ending of one or more of your past jobs was less than ideal.
This involves finding a way (and there is one or more at least) to tell your truth in a way that honors both you and the past employer when you’re asked about it. The way to do this is to see multiple perspectives of what happened – rather than remaining attached to what you saw and what you experienced as the only possibility. No one wants to take your truth away from you, but you treat others as enemies when you need to regard someone else as wrong so that you get to be right.
And of course, you could lie about how things ended – your wouldn’t be the first, except consider this: You have something to offer through your work, and you’ll actually allow yourself to give it freely because you have forgiven yourself. Giving that feels good can’t happen without forgiveness. And giving without forgiveness is always tainted because you carry around the fear of the truth and hence risk recreating the unwanted feelings again in the present or the future.
How much fear can your tolerate when the real solution is to accept your truth and what others hold as their truth?
4:: Forgive yourself for taking a job that you didn’t really want.
Survival needs will always come before your need for contribution. In fact you can’t feel like you can contribute unless you know that food, shelter and warmth aren’t concerns that you need to face. The thing is that you worry about these things even when you’re in a place to contribute and that’s how you end up taking and staying in jobs that inhibit your desire and ability to really own the feeling of contribution.
In our culture, the culture that probably needs to worry about survival the least on the planet (because there are services should there really be the need if you don’t let embarrassment or shame stand in your way), when faced with space in our lives, survival thinking is the first place we go and that’s a stressful place to default to especially when selecting a livelihood.
You don’t count the money remaining, the expenses that need covering and figure out how much real time you have before your survival needs are actually not something you can afford to take care of. So when faced with an offer for work when it’s not the right thing and you know it, you think: “Something else won’t come along,” or “I’ll never get what I really want,” or “What I want will take too long,” or “This was the best I can get,” or “I’ll take this for now,” knowing full well that you’re just going to recreate comfortable discomfort.
What you don’t realize is that you don’t have to scare yourself with your thoughts or with your situation. You can plan a transition with guidance so you don’t have to make decisions from a place of fear in the future with or without a job. It really is okay (not to mention extremely beneficial and fostering for your confidence and clarity) to ask for help that is suited to you for authentic career navigation. Especially for someone like you – someone extremely valuable because of your know-how and expertise who is considered a success already to many.
5:: Forgive yourself for how you treat yourself when you work.
You self-flagellate with internal dialogue. You hold yourself to a higher than perfect standard mis-believing that this is what makes you good at what you do. When really you’re good in spite of how you treat yourself. It’s a toxic environment to work in and it’s literally all in your head.
What can you really do about this?
Catch how you speak to yourself.
And re-write it.
Act as if: If someone was listening to how you speak to yourself (and really you are listening to how you speak to yourself), chose your words consciously. If you were your best friend what would actually be useful to hear?
Moment by moment.
Seem like a pain? It’s not if you pay attention to when you just feel bad and ask yourself what you just said to yourself. If that still doesn’t get you to the answer because I know your ego is just so sneaky about getting caught then ask yourself this:
“What would I have just heard spoken to feel the way I do now?”
6:: Forgive yourself for refraining from exposing a really unhealthy dynamic between you and someone else at work.
People will act like victims, martyrs, bullies and children in the workplace – bosses, colleagues and reportees alike. And “as adults” we are taught that we should know how to handle all manner of human behaviour ourselves.
As in: All. By. Ourselves.
That just happens in movies and not real life. You live in real life.
Just because a situation isn’t hurting you physically, it can still be emotionally, psychically or spiritually damaging. That can be the hardest thing to acknowledge.
And these behaviours do in fact erode trust on the team. And when trust on a team is in peril there is no such thing as being there “just to do [my] job.” Nope. You’re dealing with workplace politics.
Here’s what you need to remember at all times and for the rest of your life at work: The truth is what speeds up what was going to happen anyway.
You can’t prevent things that are meant to be even if that means that someone might need to leave that job. And you need to acknowledge that that person might be you.
It’s scary (but only at first) to accept that you actually have real work to do that is filled with purpose and meaning. Being entrenched in other people’s drama is not a workplace requirement. It’s a choice. And how you handle it can mean getting the help you need.
Here’s a boss approved effective script in case it’s a colleague you’re dealing with.
And if it’s your boss that’s the problem, definitely invest in mentorship (hire professional help) to map out a plan of behaviour with emotional support tailored to your best interests.
Have a story of forgiveness to share? Or maybe there’s something you wanted to ask or tell me about? Write me.
And if you know someone that could use some forgiveness, do share.
Where you fuel, re-tool and attune your imagination. Get your soul to work (on purpose). Ruthless compassion. Fierce gentleness. Sassy wisdom. And oodles of insight.