We tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world so that we know what to do. As a collection, they helped us to create the path to now. They’re supposed to make things feel easier.
Except when they don’t. And when they don’t, they need to be re-visited.
Take for example, this painfully popular personal narrative that you were practically raised on:
That there are certain things you have to do whether you like it or not.
Just think of the last time you thought: “It feels so wonderful to receive from someone who doesn’t want to be doing this, but gives themselves no other option.” We know how icky it feels to receive that kind of giving or to see it given to someone we care about from a teacher, a doctor, a barista, a lawyer, an education advisor, a therapist, a social worker.
We actually have a preference for the other to give to us out of a real desire to give. And so we must practice giving in this way if we want to see this way of being in the world.
Yet, you hear this all the time – “you have to whether you like it or not.” Maybe you’ve even heard this from yourself.
And what happens when you use this phrase or have it used on you, is that you become a hostage to ego. This single phrase prevents your own creativity and love from being present in what you do.
We’re dealing with a serious case of no imagination whatsoever.
And yet, a lot, and I mean a lot of people believe this mantra. Live this. Breathe this. And wonder why they don’t feel acknowledged, appreciated, purposeful and alive.
How could you? I mean, seriously. Emotional mathematics strongly suggest that the probability of living out a different experience of life is impossible.
Perhaps, this soul-crushing mantra is what you use to believe made you into a “good person” who does “good things.” And if this is the case for you …
… upon reflection, you would know that your ego’s version of “a good person who does good things” is someone who is incredibly complicated with nearly impossible criteria and contradictions to live up to for one thing only: pain endurance.
(And I know that you know that you wouldn’t actually want your ego as a real life friend, so you keep your private Gollum a secret as best you can).
You may not believe me right now, in this moment, but I know this: You didn’t have to do everything that you’ve done to get where you are in the spirit of “whether you like it or not.”
It’s just useful to know right now though that just because you don’t know another way, that that doesn’t mean that there isn’t another way to approach work.
And I realize that hearing that potentially pisses you off because I’m telling you that “doing certain things because you have to whether you like it or not” is nothing more than one single approach, a choice, a story that you and those who raised you and those who raised them bought into out of fear.
As an aside – to offer some an enlightened perspective on just how certain I am about there being a myriad of approaches to one single thing: Did you know that there are 250 recorded “ways” to do the dishes? YES there are 250 different approaches to get dishes clean. Virgina Satir researched it herself. This greatly interests me since I have an inexplicable interest in watching how different people do the dishes so very differently. Truly fascinating because you think, it just can’t be true. And yet it is. I also have my preferred method which is very different than how I was brought up to wash dishes (it involves a certain IKEA brush).
And now let’s extrapolate … who else if not you ultimately had the final say in deciding how you would approach work?
Is work a “have to whether you like it or not”?
Or is it your way of being of service?
Or the most meaningful way you can think of to contribute?
Or the reason you want to wake up in the morning?
(And even if you think someone other than you made the choice about how you would approach work, who gave them that influence over you if not you? Who decided to be loyal to a story that no longer proves useful? Couldn’t you change your mind if you wanted to now?)
So, now you might possibly be thinking: “I hate you Sabrina.”
It’s okay. I’ve heard that lots before. (Smile.) I’ve been frustrated too when I’ve had realizations that I didn’t want to have either. But really, it’s more useful to ask: “Sabrina, how do you suggest I get to the things that I want if I don’t do things that I don’t want to do?”
(Because you know that I really want you to get what you really, actually want out of your career. I believe in career fairy tales come true.)
Now, you are totally ready for irony my friend:
The things that you didn’t want to do might actually have been or are the things you actually wanted to do.
Strange, but true.
And now read this next line really well – You can’t tell what you really want and don’t because you’re living in a cycle of ignoring and/or invalidating yourself (probably both like I did for a long while). Meanwhile your feelings about doing things a certain way are there simply because you’re not aware that there’s any other way to do them. (Like the dishes!)
Yeah, it’s that approach thing again.
Now, if you want, this pattern can end with your own desire to cultivate and nurture an inner climate of inquiry that would help you to create the career that your insides crave. Tell yourself something more useful than “I have to do this to get what I want.” Because if you make this one change, you will notice something extremely strange. You will do things that you swear you didn’t want to but now actually do because your inner climate is so different than it was before. Yes, that totally happens.
You can re-create how it feels to be in your body and experience desire and willingness for what genuinely matters that you do.
It’s because you have a new approach. Which means, you have a new attitude. Which means you have clarity, confidence and you’re more authentic doing what you do.
Because what you’re putting yourself through right now is something very different: You’ve climbed, maneuvered, manipulated (if not others, then certainly yourself) as well as plotted your way to where you are now because you are telling yourself this “story” that does nothing more than create a hostile cellular experience no matter what you approach – even if it’s stuff you actually want to do.
Feel the truth of living: When you have great reverence and affection for yourself, for your thoughts, deeds and actions, it’s not because you did something that you didn’t want to do whether you liked it or not. It’s because you let yourself be the good you are.
Though it may feel unfamiliar to tell yourself a kinder, courageous, or truer story, clarity and confidence are essential ingredients for career bliss. And career bliss comes from love, not fear.
So finally, here we are … what’s more useful than “there are certain things I have to do to get what I want whether I like it or not?”
How about trying one or all of these …
:: Decide on how you want to feel first while you are doing something. Then take the actions that are in alignment with creating that feeling (action = thought, speech, deeds, etc).
:: Do the parts that you want to do first and you may just find yourself enjoying the parts you thought you wouldn’t like next (yes, it does happen).
:: Check in with yourself – literally ask: “Why do I want this?” Wait for a genuine answer and then ask: “And am I really okay with that reason?” Either willingness will rush in OR you’ll get a much-needed reality check from yourself.
:: And if you have another strategy that you use or have heard of and used, leave a comment to let me and others know. There could be 250. Just like there are 250 ways to do the dishes. xo
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