We often hear about people who are “unemployed” but we never believe it will happen to us until it does. I have been faced with that dilemma twice in the past five years and I can tell you it is not a fun experience. You begin to question your self-worth and it truly is a shot to your ego. The truth is that you start to look back on all the things you could have done different to have avoided the situation. Could I have worked more hours? Could I have gone to that optional after hours work function instead of my son’s hockey game? These are just some of the questions many people who found themselves axed as part of a corporate downsizing beyond their control begin to ask. Most of these questions probably relate to a discussion of work-life balance or as I like to say work over life. The truth is that when it comes down to it I believe in the old saying that any (sane) person who is on their deathbed ever says “I wish I had spent more time at the office”.
I am currently “out of work” and as much as you try and stay positive and busy and productive and… the demons of self-doubt seem to always creep in and invade your brain. However, as Dan Harris so eloquently put it in his book “10 % Happier”, the voice in my head is an “asshole”. That voice is usually tied to self-doubt and reflecting upon things that have not happened or you have no control over (or as I put it to my son when he shows angst over something, the “what ifs?” in life).
The “what ifs?” can paralyze you if you let them – especially when life deals you a tough hand like the death of a family member, the break-up of a marriage or the loss of a job. I have experienced all of the aforementioned (This does not make me special in any way). I can tell you that I often have heard from well-meaning family and friends that “it could be worse”. This centres around the concept that I should be thankful that I am not living in a war-torn country or maybe grieving the loss of my family in a house fire. That to me is taking someone else’s pain and suffering and using it to make me feel better about my own (not unique) situation. This strikes me as just a little perverse (but to each their own I guess).
No, for me, the best way to make you feel better about your situation is to shut that a-hole up in your head. He/she is only going to bring you down by making you look at the “possible” bad outcomes (just an observation but have you ever noticed the voice seems to be louder at challenging times?). Shutting down that voice is the key to making it through tough times.
Even further, for most of us, turning off Mr. Negative may also be the answer to not letting everyday annoyances get the better of some of us. Come on, admit it, many of you have given into that voice at times when the situation is at best a one or two on a scale of ten on the annoyance meter. Maybe it is when you were in the line at the grocery store behind that person who just can’t seem to find their credit card or cash. Or maybe on the highway when that inconsiderate twit who is talking on their cell phone cuts you off. The voice sometimes just gets the best of us and you shoot the person the finger or shake a fist in their direction. What does this accomplish? Nothing (other than satisfying that asshole in your heads’ need to be heard).
The next time the voice chimes in on issues be they big or small just repeat after me “shut up asshole – I am better than you”.