Extra Process Step: Processing Grief, Part 1
This process step takes us to a place few of us willingly visit. But surprisingly, it is a necessity at least to open the door and look in, to ask ourselves if we need to spend some time here in order to have a healthy relationship with work.
Let’s take a look at Grief and its impact on our relationship with work.
“What are you talking about?”
Yeah. Really. Grief.
Do you know what comes along with a damaged relationship with work, besides pain, besides misery, besides being unhappy every day at your job? Besides feeling frustrated and stuck, oppressed and powerless?
A damaged relationship with work creates a loss. A loss of dreams, a loss of desires, a loss of financial stability or reward, a loss of self-confidence. We lose innocence; the belief that everything in our world will always be all right, that everything will always work out right. We lose trust; the expectation that people will treat us with kindness respect and dignity. We lose possibilities; the dreams of success or empire or fulfillment or ownership.
All those dreams you had way back when all those desires you had way back when all those great things you would accomplish.
Even if you don’t want to admit it, the loss of all of this hurts so deeply. And in order to heal our relationship with work, we must grieve this loss. Now, this loss isn’t permanent, and by grieving it we are not saying what is lost will always remain lost. But we have to be truthful about what is happening in the moment and at the moment we aren’t experiencing what we expected we would. And that is the loss we must grieve.
Let me share with you how I came to realize the importance grieving plays in developing a healthy relationship with work.
Quite a few years ago, I was invited to a conference and was asked to demonstrate the work I was doing with individuals in the area of career satisfaction.
Just a little background. At that point in time, I had defined various parts of the process that I’m sharing with you, but hadn’t put all the pieces together in a cohesive manner. At this point in time, it was more like a set of tools I had in my toolbox. I would use a different tool depending on the particular needs of the client I was working with.
For my conference breakout session, I started by asking for three volunteers that wanted to have a better experience with work to come up and be part of the live demo.
The first two volunteers sailed through the demo easily. Their results were just as I expected. But the third volunteer was not having a good experience at all. The tools weren’t connecting for her.
Let me tell you about the third volunteer, Laurel. At the time I met Laurel she had been working for a major company in a managerial role for nearly 10 years. During her employment with the company, she had gone back to school to get a Master’s degree in human resources. Her dream had always been to be a human resources executive within a large company and, so she believed, this degree would be her path to achieving her dream.
Obtaining this degree was a huge effort on her part. She worked full time and went to school in the evening. Additionally, she was the sole support for her family, so she had a lot on her shoulders while going to school. Once she finished her degree, she started for applying for new roles within the company. Laurel not only liked the company she worked for, she was devoted to this company, and wanted to finish out her career there. She pinned all of her hopes on her master’s degree leading her to the human resources executive role she coveted.
However, after submitting many applications to open HR exec. roles within the company, she didn’t experience promotion, instead, she experienced a whole heck of a lot of rejection. The new degree wasn’t getting her to where she thought it would. In other words, she wasn’t getting the job offers she expected based on having this additional education.
After nearly 6 months of putting in applications and not even getting an interview, Laurel made a personal decision to stop applying for new roles and, to accept where she was within the company and to make that “good enough”.
As I was working with Laurel and taking her through the tools of forgiveness and acceptance that I was using at the time, I got the sense that she needed something more. I could feel I was missing something.
Want to discover more? Explore the rest in our next blog, Extra Process Step: Processing Grief, Part 2.