Awhile back, I lost a job. Well…let me refine that sentence, since it lacks a certain precision. I didn’t lose the job; I was let go from the job. It was a blow. I could share all the circumstances around it, but that’s a low-level conversation that is- frankly- not worthy of me. What I can tell you is that the experience was painful and humbling.
I spent some time feeling a range of emotions on the angry-sad spectrum, including righteous indignation, embarrassment, shame and self-doubt. It was a pitiful stew and an exhausting time.
Looking back though, I took away tremendous learnings from this deeply unsettling experience in my life. I’d like to share what I learned and hope it resonates with you.
Lesson 1. Be with the feelings.
I see that being with those emotions was necessary. Permitting myself to actually feel all of those feelings was decidedly unpleasant but also critical to my process. The mere allowance of the expression of all of it was sort of an act of defiance for me (because hey I’m me, I’m accomplished and “together” and I “can’t” fall apart and be a hot mess and blah blah blah B.S.) and at the same time somewhat unavoidable because it was a surprising event. I leaned in to the pain because I had to, but doing so was important because I gave myself an outlet.
What I’m saying is that the feelings were there. I couldn’t deny them. Instead I felt them. I shared them with others. I released them. I leaned on my support system. In this way, I was able to move past them, leave them behind and free up energy for what was next in my life.
What emotions are you tamping down around your particular problems and circumstances? What would it give you to feel the feelings? What support can you activate in your life to help you?
Lesson 2. Do not make choices from feelings.
I had a LOT of self-defeating thoughts during this time. I had a lot of notions about what to say and to whom, what to do and why. But had I taken any decisive action when I was in the feelings space, I guarantee I would’ve regretted my choices. And this is because feelings ebb and flow. Feelings move. Feelings change. Feelings are, therefore, unreliable places from which to choose.
Just think of times in your life when you have been angry, chosen to speak and then immediately regretted those words you couldn’t take back. Or perhaps you’ve felt so sad that you backed out of a trip you’d been planning for months, only to realize the day before the trip that you really wanted to go but it was too late.
Choice is powerful and important. Choice is what career and life coaches like myself coach clients around understanding and internalizing. Recognizing that you are the source of your life and that you get to say how your life unfolds is empowering and one of the main gifts of coaching.
But while feelings are part of the fabric of the human experience, choosing from feelings is unwise and can lead to consequences that make life harder and more unpleasant than it needs to be. Choose, instead, from what you are committed to in your life. Feel and process the feelings so as to get clear on your commitments and choose powerfully what is next for you.
When you are at a choice point, check in with yourself. Where are you choosing from? If you are choosing from a feeling, what are the possible consequences and costs? Will that choice serve you in your life? Does it align with your true commitments? If not, my suggestion is to wait. Make the choices once you have processed the feelings, the grief and the pain.
Lesson 3. Look for the opportunities in the problem.
Once I moved through the emotions, I had some pronounced clarity. The proverbial lightbulb turned on, and I saw new things.
First, I was able to shift how I related to the event and to see it as a gift from the universe. And who doesn’t like presents?! I own that this sounds woo-woo, and I am not who anyone would describe as woo-woo, which is precisely why you should believe me. Losing that job was most definitely a gift. And incidentally, seeing the loss as a gift supported me to let go of so much of the negative energy around it. It was like someone hit the pause button on the DVD of my life-story and said: “Hold up… what are you doing and who do you want to be in this world?”
Second, I saw that I had a moment in time to really explore what was next for me. I had spent my entire professional career in law and, while losing a job was demoralizing, the truth of the matter was that none of my roles in law were inspired. I was never truly passionate about the work. So this experience gave me the space to chart a new course- one that actually spoke to my heart. And that is how and why I began my coach training and responded to a calling dating back to my childhood. I now have a thriving coaching practice that may not have existed but for what was- at the time- a challenging event.
BOOM!!!! Suddenly my big problem presented two bigger opportunities.
Life is nuts. Shit happens. I do not mean to minimize or at all diminish your experiences. I’m simply asking you to look at the experiences through a more empowered lens- in service of you and the extraordinary life you deserve.
What problems are you currently facing? What are three opportunities available to you in each of those problems? If you empowered those opportunities, what would that give you in your life?
Feel the feelings. Get supported. Choose not from feelings; choose from commitment. Look for and empower the opportunities in your problems.
And (shameless plug), when you are ready and willing to look at what’s next for you, hire a coach!Tags: Coaching, Commitment, Inspiration, Life Coach, Tips