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.

Related posts:

  1. A Less Ordinary New Career – Terri’s Journey
  2. Less Ordinary Careers – The CEO of Me Ltd.

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