Permission to Wallow Part 2- Purposeful Wallowing

Yesterday, we discussed wallowing and explored its benefits.  I shared how as a coach, I could get behind encouraging wallowing as a tool to gain insight and help you move forward.  Today, I thought we’d to continue exploring by getting deeper into a real life example and sharing some practical ways for you to make the most of your wallowing.

farm_muddypigLaura’s Story

Laura is a bright, energetic, driven corporate leader who’s worked her way up the ladder.  She has invested 16 years into her career and is recognized as a subject matter expertise in her field.  But something is missing and she’s burnt out.  We began our work together by exploring a career path that would put her skills to use in a consulting capacity.  It seemed like the logical thing to do and she was taking every step she was supposed to in order to generate leads and opportunities.  In our last meeting however, she was still feeling stressed out and uneasy.  So we took the opportunity to explore how she was feeling and get behind what they might be revealing to her.  We explored what felt off, what felt right.  We explored when in her work she felt stressed and when she felt strong and confident.  Something began to shift in Laura.  The tension began to break and you could see her sinking into her emotions.  Over the following two weeks, Laura took time to wallow in those feelings and continue to look for the messages they might be sending her about her next career step.  When I spoke with her yesterday, she was bubbling over with energy.  Her deep reflection revealed a potential career path that she had never considered.  She couldn’t believe she had previously overlooked it as an option.  Her wallowing allowed her to confront and release her built up emotions.  And when she paid attention to the root of her emotions, she was able to see a world of possibilities opening up before her.

The next time you feel a period of wallowing coming on, make the most of it. Pull out your journal and begin to capture all the feelings you’re having.  Take a deep breath and truly allow yourself to experience your emotions.  And ask yourself some reflective questions* about your emotions:

Fear – What is the threat?  Is it real or perceived?  What must I do to move into a position of safety?

Vulnerability – What belief, behavior or perception is being challenged? How might my life change if I accept and adapt to this new insight?

Anger – What must be protected?  What boundary must be restored?

Frustration – What is the block?  What can I do differently?  Who can I ask for ideas or assistance?

Sadness (when you know loss is coming) – What must be released?  What must be rejuvenated?

Grief (when you have no choice about the loss) – What must be mourned?

*Questions are adapted from The Emotional Life of Horses by Linda Kohanov. Copyright 2005 by Epona Equestrian Services.

Less Ordinary Career Transition – Permission to Wallow

In response to a recent postingPig in mud 1 about Terri’s 4-month journey to find a more meaningful role before being deported, one of our readers, Ellen, shared that rather than feeling motivated by Terri’s success, she somehow felt bad about it – like she couldn’t relate to this seemingly idyllic, inspirational tale.  What about when we hit roadblocks, she wondered, or when we lack clarity and we’re overwhelmed by our emotions?

In her last line, Ellen somewhat sheepishly asked for permission to wallow in her emotions and it got me thinking. Why can’t we wallow, I wondered?  Are there only downsides or can there be actual benefits to wallowing?  And as a coach, could I encourage it as part of the career change process?  What I discovered was overwhelming and unexpected. Yes! I can definitely get behind wallowing…to a point and with a purpose.

After much thought and reflection on my own career journey and the journey of the hundreds of clients I have worked with, few if any, were without setbacks and periods of sadness, frustration, anger and doubt.  Yet it seems that for many of us, we’re afraid to sit too long with our feelings and emotions.  We’ve come to see wallowing defined as self-pity, being self-absorbed and stagnating.

Well the way I’m looking at wallowing is somewhat different.  Let me explain my line of thought.

wallow [wol-oh] –verb (used without object)

1. to roll about or lie in water, snow, mud, dust, or the like, as for refreshment: Goats wallowed in the dust.
2. to live self-indulgently; luxuriate; revel: to wallow in luxury; to wallow in sentimentality.

When reading the definition, you can see that wallowing implies being in the moment, allowing yourself the time and space to really take it all in, the good and bad.  And from this perspective, I think wallowing in your emotions can be beneficial.  In our career transitions, as in many other aspects of our work and life, we are very rarely encouraged to slow down and breathe; to regroup and reassess.  As I see it, that’s what wallowing is all about.  Wallowing allows you the opportunity to deeply feel your emotions and listen to the messages they are sending.

This quiet time allows you to really be with your emotions. If we take the time to really let our emotions in, we take a critical step towards being able to release them and move forward with greater ease.  Additionally, we can learn powerful things from the messages they are sending us. Just don’t let yourself get stuck in the emotional mud.

So Ellen, permission is granted!  We all need to do a bit of wallowing in order to be successful.  Roll around in your feelings, revel in them.  Learn all you can from them and use the insight to move you into inspired action.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we’ll look at some ways to make the most of your wallowing.

Do You Trust What You Know?

JayeReading Time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

I bounced over to Jaye, the 28-year old dark brown, wise and majestic mare, with curry comb and brush in hand. The instructions from my coach Kathy were simple – I had 10 minutes to groom the horse and notice what I was feeling. I was in good spirits that day at the barn. I’d been working on getting my life in order and the results were showing. How hard could this job be, I thought? But as soon as I started using the comb to release dirt, Jaye turned her head to look at me. What did that mean? Was she uncomfortable? A moment later when she backed away, ever so slightly, I got my answer.

A horse is a powerful mirror.

The smile and hop in my step were quickly disappearing. Jaye and I were both uneasy and agitated. I didn’t like it.  But I kept on going.  And finally as I passed behind her to groom her other side, something happened.  A deep breath entered my lungs without conscious thought.  A release swept over my body and there was a noticeable weakness in my knees.  I laid a hand on her to steady myself as I groomed with the other.  We fell into sync.  We were connected.

I knew instantly in that moment that Jaye had picked up on what was really going on with me before I did.  She saw through my positive exterior and instantly recognized the fear deep inside. Uh, oh. But as I checked in with the feeling, I realized the fear was there, but it wasn’t paralyzing.  It was that excited kind of fear; like when you’re on the brink of an amazing new journey.  Ahh!  So this is what I was meant to learn, huh?  This is what you were trying to make me see!

Jaye reflected my mismatched emotions back to me until I paid attention.  I wanted to hug her.  Her gift was powerful.  I felt warm, appreciative, known, accepted. I felt authentic, empowered, courageous.  I was ready to face my fears.

And then it happened.

I looked up at my coach, flashed a smile loaded with the message, “I am complete with Jaye; is it ok if I’m done?”  She smiled back giving no indication I had permission to stop.  My 10 minutes must not be up yet.  What do I do now?

So I ignored my gut and did what I was “supposed” to.  I moved back to Jaye’s right side and kept on grooming until my 10 minutes were up.  Those last two minutes were excruciating.  We got agitated again.  We lost our connection.  I suddenly felt I was on stage for my audience to critique.  I was doing it wrong.  I let Jaye down. I failed.  Everyone else was better than me.  I ran back to my seat as fast as I could when time was called.

As she debriefed with me, my coach Kathy challenged me, “Where else in your business or life do you stop yourself from acting on your intuition?  How has that held you back?”  Another participant of the workshop threw in another one,  ”Are you trying to be the “good girl” and do it “right” rather than taking authentic action?”

My mind raced through past experience where I ignored my intuition to disastrous results and those where I listened and although it felt risky, all turned out better than expected.

And almost like Jaye was still communicating with me from the barn, an opportunity to listen to my intuition showed up.  I had been in conversation with a colleague about collaborating on a project together.  On the surface, there was so much synergy that it seemed like a no-brainer.   But the more we talked about it, the more drained I got.  The more I felt trapped.

So during our next call, when the topic of how we’d work together came up, I took the chance and opened up.  I had fears.  I had reservations.  It doesn’t feel like the right time for me.  But I didn’t want to close the door to future collaboration.

Turns out the fears and doubts were mutual.  We had a great conversation and things are better than ever between us.  We’re finding other ways to support each other and keeping our eyes open for future opportunities to collaborate.  I think we may have even saved our friendship from potential damage.

Trusting your intuition can be a challenging task even if we know the rewards.

To strengthen your awareness and integrate it into authentic action, try these following steps when faced with your next decision:

  1. Check in with your body. Notice any feelings, twinges or stiffness. What message is this trying to tell you?
  2. Check in with your emotions. Are you feeling fear, vulnerability, anger, frustration, sadness?  Or happy, confident, empowered, clear, courageous?  What message are these emotions trying to tell you?
  3. Take action. Building the muscles around trusting your intuition take practice.  Take a chance.  Act in a way that honors the messages you received from your body and emotions.
  4. Reflect. Take time to reflect on how this new authentic action felt for you.  Did things blow up after you took the risk or was your risk rewarded with a pleasant surprise?  How will you integrate what you learned the next time you’re faced with a decision?

Please share your stories with us. We’d love to hear how you’re learning and growing!

PS Remember how I shared that I wanted to hug Jaye for the gift she had given me?  Well even though it felt like a silly request, before I left the barn that day, I shared my desire with Kathy.  She led me straight into Jaye’s stall and I wrapped my arms around her. Thank you, I communicated with my embrace; I’m grateful you were here to teach me.  And turns out it wasn’t so silly a request after all.  One by one, my fellow workshop participants stepped into the stall asking for their chance at a hug.

What’s life got to do with it? – Extraordinary Foundation

Reading Time: 1 minute 30 seconds

Has this ever happened to you? You had an unfocused, unproductive week at work and you couldn’t understand why!

That’s what happened to me last week. I thought I had everything in place – a 3-year business vision, annual goals, monthly revenue projections, a marketing strategy, monthly goals, daily and weekly action steps, two accountability calls with my business partner Phil…Yet I still couldn’t get out of my own way. I couldn’t manage to sit down and accomplish much. My attention wandered, I was distracted by email, doing laundry and waiting for the next post to pop up on Facebook. I was having trouble sleeping and was exhausted most of the day.

What was up? What kind of coach and role model was I being? I followed all the rules, implemented all the systems for success and still nothing could break me out of my unproductive funk.

Disturbed, I pulled out my journal and began to write down any thought that came into my head. Surprisingly, not many of them were work related.Here’s what came out on the page – I’ve been struggling with the chronic illness of a family member, worried about my husband and concerned how much longer he can endure working at his unfulfilling job while managing a job search in this economy, feeling guilty because I’ve been busy and out of touch with friend and family, worried about money, and frustrated that I haven’t finished my home office renovations yet.

My guess is a few of these ring true for you as well. So many of us push through the daily tasks of our work telling ourselves that we’ll get to our personal lives later, when we’re done with work. Yet work never quite seems to end and later keeps getting pushed off. And if you’re like me, when I don’t take time to focus on my personal life, honor what’s important to me and process my emotions, I feel like I’m on shaky ground, carrying a bag of rocks around with me through dense fog. And boy does it wipe me out trying to work while I’m carrying those rocks through the fog! Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our personal life is with us during our workday. The unresolved issues and unprocessed emotions take space in your brain; they mentally (and physically) wear you out and keep you from doing your best work.

As I’ve moved through my career, I’ve noticed my tolerance for pushing off my personal life has decreased as the impact it has on my professional success increases. I now see self-care as a top priority not only in having a high quality of life but also in my career success. If I don’t have the solid foundation of my personal life, no matter how hard I try, I cannot be fully present and successful in running my business.

So when it hit me last week that life was getting in the way of business, I took swift action. I made time for some self-care, I got in touch with friends and family, I talked to my coach, did some financial planning and finally got my home office together.

The energy shift was amazing! Not only do I feel good about the attention I paid to my personal life but in less than a week’s time, I’ve gotten many tasks off the work to-do list and several doors have opened to exciting and unexpected opportunities.

I am taking away a powerful lesson from this experience; a critical key to career success is making your personal life a priority. Taking time to care for yourself, process your emotions and nourish your relationships not only frees you from carrying that bag of rocks through fog, it also is a vital source of energy to accomplish nothing less than the extraordinary in your business and career!

What’s standing the way of your career success? What needs handling in your personal life? What support do you need to move forward?

Successful Job Searching – Extraordinary Mindset

“No one’s hiring.”
“There are so many people like me looking for a job.”
“No one’s gotten back to me.”
“I’m not qualified.” “I’m over qualified.”
“I’ll never find a new job.”

Sound familiar? Most people we talk to these days with are in career transition.
They’re out searching for the few available positions in a market flooded with many qualified candidates. The odds may seem stacked against you. The search can feel daunting and emotions can begin to swirl – lack of confidence, desperation, feeling like you have to “sell” yourself and your soul for a steady paycheck.

Last week, I had two conversations with colleagues actively engaged in the job search process and the two couldn’t have been more different.

“Bob” sounded like the quotes above. He’s discouraged. He lacks confidence. He’s questioning his abilities. He feels like he’s tried everything and still can’t find a new job. He feels isolated. He feels like a failure.

“Joe” on the other hand sounded upbeat. He believes that although he’s been searching for over six months and unemployment is getting close to running out, he will find something that he loves. He is 100% confident in his success. He’s got back-up plans to make money and pay the bills while he searches. He’s being creative about aligning his passions and his career. He is constantly talking to friends, family, and even near strangers about his ideas and opportunities.

This stark contrast got me thinking about what sets people apart in their job search. Both Bob and Joe are smart, qualified and experienced professionals.  Yet something is different.  I began to suspect that what makes you successful is not just what you’re “doing” but how you’re “being.” It seems to me that the success of your job search is highly related to, if not dependent on your mindset.

Our mindset is our attitude, disposition or mood. And often times, we aren’t conscious of the influence our mindset can have on our success or lack there of. You could be “doing” all the right things but showing up in a way that undermines your potential.

But how do we change it? How do we set ourselves up with a mindset that positively influences our job search success? How do we even realize what our mindset is at any given moment?

What stories do you have to share?

Is your mindset playing a role in your success?

Did you notice a moment when your mindset shifted from Bob’s to Joe’s?

How does it feel to be in these mindsets?