CareerA brief sojourn into Resistance - Rebecca Le Vine

April 5, 2019by Rebecca Le Vine0

In the step of Acceptance, you have the opportunity to put a name to your “What Is”.  You have the opportunity to accept and be at peace with it. If your boss is a jerk, then it is time to accept the fact so you can move beyond it. If you are working below your potential, then it is time to accept this fact so you can move beyond it. Yes, I know, this seems obvious. But why don’t we do it? Why do we stay ticked off at our jerk of a boss? Why do we stay frustrated and angry because we are not working up to our potential? Why do we stay trapped by “What Is” rather than accept it and move beyond it? That’s easy enough to answer. Rather than practice Acceptance, we practice the R-word: Resistance.

When painful things happen to us it is natural to resist them. We use resistance to push away the pain, to push against the circumstance/situation/person that is hurting us. This pushing, this resistance, requires a great deal of energy. It requires a 24/7 vigilance on our part to keep away the “bad stuff”. Once you experience true Acceptance, you are going to be surprised how much of your energy, your mental, spiritual and emotional energy has gone into resistance.

When my relationship with work was at its worst, I was in the depths of resistance. I was so angry all of the time. I was angry at my job. Then I was angry at myself for being angry. I was so focused on the pain and make it go away that my whole life became this sad drama of being angry and then trying to resist the anger. When I finally learned to stop resisting and move into acceptance, I found an interesting peace. Even though my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, I had a new found ability to turn my focus away from resistance, away from the anger and turn it toward action. I included the quote by Rumi because between what I believed was right about my life and what I believed was wrong about my life there was an open space called acceptance. It was in this space I was able to create change.

 

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

                                                -Rumi

You cannot change what you are resisting. You can’t! You have to stop resisting first. Inherent in resistance is fighting against what is in front of you. How can you change something that you are fighting against? You can’t! Through Acceptance, you can free yourself from the fight that resistance brings into our lives.

Let me share a story that illustrates what I’m talking about. A client named Juan was considered a medium performer in his company. This particular company’s method of performance management was based on “past performance,” meaning the company was always looking at past performance to judge current performance. Because the company was so focused on the past, this meant that a mistake made by an employee a year ago, three years ago, or five years ago would follow the employee forever. Right or wrong, this was the company’s management culture.

Juan’s performance had been poor when he first started with the company. However, his performance had improved tremendously as his tenure grew. But in his biannual reviews, his poor start with the company would always be a topic of discussion. On top of that, it always figured into compensation discussions too.

Juan came to me because he wanted a way to “get out from under this black cloud that seems to follow me. I know this is how the company works. I’ve seen them do this to other people as well. I want the management team to change and to see me from a different perspective.” He was frustrated and angry. He wanted our work together to focus on how he could change the company’s practice that was negatively impacting him.

When he explained his goal to me, I told him that he had a choice to make. He could continue to resist the culture while trying to change the culture all at the same time, which would be a guaranteed recipe for failure. Or he could stop resisting “What Is,” i.e. the culture of his place of employment and move into Acceptance. He could end the fight and change his focus. Through Acceptance, he could make a conscious decision to accept that this is how his employer operates.

Once Juan could accept the situation, he could stop wasting his time and energy on resisting “What Is.” He could stop wasting his time on trying to change something he had no control over. Through Acceptance, he could free himself to focus on finding a company and a professional culture that would be a good fit for him.

So often we resist something in the hope that it will change. We hope our jerk of a boss will become nice. We hope that the company will change its policies, etc. In essence, we are hoping that something external to us, that we have no control over, will magically turnaround. When we take our focus off of the resistance, off of the fight, and channel it towards accepting a situation for what it is, we are then able to move beyond the situation that has angered us or kept us stuck and shift our focus towards what we can change in our lives. Namely ourselves.

While Juan’s story is a good example of how resistance can keep you stuck and how Acceptance can free you, there’s one more part of the story I want to share. When Juan and I first discussed the concept of acceptance, he struggled with it. He wanted to know how he could accept being repeatedly judged based on his past actions. He found this performance management style to be unacceptable. If it was unacceptable, how could he ever move into acceptance with it?

I hear this from a lot of clients. With voices full of incredulity, they say to me:

Client: Why in the world would I accept what is so unacceptable to me? 

OR 

Client: If I accept what has been done to me, doesn’t that mean the situation will continue? Doesn’t that mean that things won’t change for me? 

OR 

Client: If I accept what has been done to me, this means that I’m condoning what happened. And there is no way on earth that I’m going to condone what has happened to me. 

OR 

Client: How in the world can I accept what has been done to me when what was done was so awful? How can I accept what has happened to me when I have been wronged? I am the injured party here.

These are valid concerns so let’s address them. Acceptance of a situation is not the same as condoning a situation. When you accept “What Is,” you are saying, “I see the situation for what it is. And I accept what is at this moment.”

But you are not saying, “I am completely okay with the situation as it is and with what happened to me.” When you accept a situation/circumstance/person for what it is, you are letting go of any resistance to it and clearing a path to move forward. Juan had to accept his situation: his company’s performance management policy meant he could never win.

Condoning a situation means you are giving your approval for the situation. I want to be clear here; acceptance is not the same as condoning, nor does it imply condoning.

Accepting the unacceptable with peace and grace is one of the hardest things we do in this life. But the act of Acceptance brings a level of healing that we could not experience without it.

Getting back to Juan, he did not need to approve of his company’s performance management culture, but he did need to accept it for what it was. Because when he finally accepted it, when he stopped fighting it, he was able to move forward in his life with a new company that was a better fit for him.

Key points for Acceptance:

  1. I know this is a lot of “food for thought.” Most of us struggle with Acceptance. If you need to sit with this concept for a while before doing this step, give yourself the time you need to become comfortable with it. A good question to ask yourself is how much longer do you want to be held prisoner by your past. When you are ready and willing to accept your “What Is”, follow the instructions below.
  1. In this step, we want to focus on situations/circumstances/persons that have damaged our relationship with work. You can use items listed in your Forgiveness template. I also encourage you to hunt for places of anger and pain that you might have suppressed. This is your chance to get it all out on the table.
  1. As with the Forgiveness step, you will know you are successful with the Acceptance stage when you no longer feel an emotional charge when you think about the situation/circumstance/person.
  1. It might take you several dedicated hours to complete this step. Give yourself the freedom to stop if you need to and pick the step up again at a later date.
  1. For the Acceptance step, we are going to be utilizing a template again. I have provided sample templates to help jumpstart your thinking/feeling for this process. Feel free to utilize them if they help you.
  1. There is no right or wrong way to complete this process. Do what feels right for you.

Instructions for the Acceptance template:

  1. In Step 1, you will summarize the situation/circumstance/person that you wish to accept.
Circumstance to acceptNo matter how hard I work, in my performance reviews, my manager keeps bringing up things that happened years ago.

 

  1. Step 2 is the “What Is” statement. This is a statement about the truth of the situation in this very moment. This statement should be unvarnished by resistance, justification or defense. Basically, you want to “get real”. Take this opportunity to be rigorously honest with yourself. Call out all the feelings about the situation/circumstance/person that you are still holding onto because these emotions comprise your resistance. We want to get it out on paper, have an opportunity to look at it, and accept it for what it is, rather than resist it. You can see some examples of this in the sample templates. There is no right way or wrong way to write your “What Is” statements. What you’re aiming for here is the hard, cold truth.

 

What Is statementI cannot control what my employer does or does not do.

 

  1. Step 3 is the Acceptance statement. In these statements, you will declare what you are accepting. The goal here is to release the resistance to “What Is” and to accept it.
Acceptance statementIn this moment, I willingly and consciously choose to accept What Is. I accept the fact that I cannot change the way my employer conducts performance reviews. I accept the fact that their performance management culture does not suit me. This culture means I cannot achieve the goals that are important to me. I accept the fact that my past mistakes will always come back to haunt me if I continue to work for this company. I accept the fact that I am fighting against something that I cannot change.

 

  1. Step 4 will be your gratitude statement. The gratitude statement serves an important function. It ensures that we complete the process by moving into a state of gratitude, thereby diminishing any resistance that might be lingering as we complete the step. By writing a gratitude statement, you are in essence “forced” to take a situation that has caused you pain and understand how it has helped you grow. All of our lessons, whether we deem them good or bad, help us. The gratitude statement directs us to find the positive lesson that has come from our pain and create a state of thankfulness for the experience.

 

Gratitude statementAt this moment, I am grateful for this experience. Through this experience, I have learned what I can and cannot control. I have also been able to realize what is important to me. It is important to me to be judged on my present contribution versus my past. I have come to realize the type of culture that I need to work in order to succeed. I am so grateful and thankful for this awareness because it has helped me to realize that I am not stuck. I just need to find a better situation for myself.

 

  1. Optional: In this template, I have included an optional step to document solutions and ideas. Usually, when we have been in resistance for a long time, when we have been stuck, it is very hard to see solutions to our situation. As you begin to release that resistance, new ideas and solutions for your situation may come to mind. The template provides a good opportunity to capture them as they come up.
Optional:

Solutions/ideas

1. Start researching other companies that hire for my role.

2. Research their management style.

3. Network with friends and family to see what type of performance management style the companies they work for have.

 

 

  1. Once you have completed the template, set it aside. Let it sit for a day or two. This gives you time to process what you felt as you were writing your “What Is” statements and your gratitude statements. When you are ready, come back to the template, read through it and ensure that you are complete with it. After your review, if you feel that you need another “What Is” statement, go ahead and add it. If you feel you need to add more to your gratitude statements, add it. If you do add more to the Acceptance template, set it aside for another day or so and then come back to it and repeat the process.

 

  1. When you feel complete with the template, you want to do a little test to ensure that you have successfully accepted the situations you entered into the template. Think about the situation or experience you accepted. Do you still feel feelings around it? Are you feeling any anger, any resentment, any resistance? If you do, you will want to go through your template again, with a focus on truly accepting “What Is.” Go back to what you wrote in the “What Is” statements. Say them out loud with intention and conviction while feeling deep self-compassion, love, and kindness. You might need to repeat this step several times over the next few days until you truly find yourself in a state of acceptance with the situations/circumstances/persons that have been holding you, prisoner.

Sample Acceptance Template

Circumstance to acceptDespite working hard and giving all I had to my employer, I was laid off.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that my employer no longer required my services.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that my employer no longer wished to pay my salary.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I feel I was treated unfairly.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I feel that my employer did not recognize my contributions.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that this entire situation has hurt me deeply and has impacted my self-confidence.
Acceptance statementIn this moment, I willingly and consciously choose to accept What Is. I accept the fact that I was laid off. I accept the fact that I was not treated fairly. I accept the fact that this layoff has made me feel unappreciated, undervalued, angry and resentful. I accept that this layoff has hurt me to such a degree that it has undermined my confidence and prevented me from looking for new work. I accept the fact that this experience has hurt me in many ways including financially. I accept this because this is the truth in the moment even if it doesn’t feel good. In this state of peace, without resistance, I accept all that has gone before and my current “What is.”
Gratitude statementIn this moment, I am grateful for this experience. I am thankful for the opportunity to step back and look at the experience I had with this employer, what I learned from this job, the skills I gained, and the connections that I was able to make. I am grateful that I have this opportunity now to look for new employment, to find an employer/company that will have a greater appreciation for the gifts and talents I bring to the table. I am grateful for the opportunity to step back and assess my next career move. I am also grateful that this opportunity has shown me how much power I have to choose my next step. I am so thankful for the gifts and talents that I do possess. I am thankful for all that I’ve learned up to this point because I can take all of it and gift it to my next employer. In this state of gratitude, I am ready to move forward.
Optional:

Solutions/ideas

1) Connect with former co-workers for job leads.

2) Join professional networking organizations.

3) Spend some time determining if I want to continue in this field. Is there some other career field that I want to explore?

Sample Acceptance Template

Circumstance to acceptI was passed over for promotion again.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that despite doing my best work, my employer is choosing not to recognize it.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I am not being rewarded in the manner that suits me.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I was really angry when I saw the list of people who were promoted. I know I do better work than they do.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that this has impacted my willingness to give 100 percent on the job. I am resentful and am withholding, not giving it my all.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that some days I just don’t want to go into work because it feels like no one is seeing all the great work that I’m doing.
Acceptance statementRight here and now, I declare my willingness to accept the fact that I have been repeatedly passed over for promotion. I accept this. I accept this even though this is unacceptable to me. I am willing to accept my current situation with my current employer with complete peace. I accept the fact that others are receiving what I want. I accept the fact that my coworkers who been promoted over me are not as talented as I am. I accept the manner in which my employer chooses to manage his/her company. In a place of complete peace, I accept all that is so that I may move forward.
Gratitude statementI am so darn thankful that I have been able to see the truth of the matter. I am thankful that I was passed over for promotion because it allowed me to truly understand my contributions. I am so grateful that I now know and can accept the fact that the way my employer manages his/her company does not match my needs. I am so grateful for being released from the pain that this has caused. With this freedom, I can search for employment that will honor, value, and appreciate my gifts and talents. I am also so thankful that I now know the way in which I need to be rewarded. In this space of peace and gratitude, I move forward.
Optional:

Solutions/ideas

1) Decide if this is the right place of employment for me or whether I need to look for new employment.

Sample Acceptance Template

Circumstance to acceptI have been stuck in the Time4Money Exchange way too long. As a result, I feel bored and stagnant. I feel as if I have nothing to show for my efforts.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I resent coming in to work day after day doing the same thing for so little reward.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment that I am not challenged by what I do.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I feel like I sold my soul to get a salary.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is I feel no joy or and no fulfillment from my work.
What Is statementThe truth of the situation in this very moment is that I feel used.
Acceptance statementRight here and now I am willing to come into complete acceptance of my current circumstances. I am willing to accept the fact that I don’t feel good about my work, and that I’m not inspired by it. I accept the fact that I wasn’t prepared when I entered the workplace and therefore wasn’t able to make different decisions than those I made. I accept the possibility that this employer/career might not be the right fit for me. I accept the fact that my employment has dulled my desire to reach for more. In a place of complete peace, I accept all that is so that I may move forward.
Gratitude statementI am truly grateful that I have had this experience. It has made me learn that I deserve to have work that inspires me and engages me and rewards me in the manner that I desire. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to experience work that doesn’t suit me because it better positions me to find work that does. I am grateful that I have realized that I deserve better than what I have today. Additionally, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to know at a deep level that I am meant for more than just an exchange of my time and productivity for money. I can see that I have so much to give. And it has been this circumstance that has brought me to a place where I am ready and willing to find employment that will support me in doing so. In this space of peace and gratitude, I move forward.
Optional:

Solutions/ideas

1) Create a vision for my professional life.

2) Write a detailed summary of the gifts and talents I possess.

3) Get clear on what I need in a reward.

 

Rebecca Le Vine

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