At times in our career we face a particularly challenging situation like: a difficult boss, a hard workload, a negative performance review, financial loss, or uncertainty about direction. How we handle getting through a hard time will make the experience filled with pain or filled with opportunity.
From a spiritual perspective it is said that every challenge is a gift. With this in mind, we can re-frame any hard situation into a blessing to help us get to where we ultimately want to go. A way to flip the script from complaining about a challenge to feeling empowered by the situation is this: Rather than say "this is happening TO me," we can say "this is happening FOR me." And from there, we can begin to explore the deeper reasons for a situation. While a hard time is hard and we don't have to like it, here are two benefits we can take away from any career challenge if we are willing to see the opportunity
1. In our darkest times, we see our own negative behaviors that hold us back from our goals or from the person we really want to be.
It is in the height of a really hard time that we can see ourselves in behaviors we don't like about ourselves or that don't ultimately serve us like: acting victimy, stuffing our emotions, or suppressing what we really want in order to please others. These behaviors may show up because we were taught to deal with challenges by avoiding them or because we think it better to be agreeable to maintain good relationships These behaviors, however, will hold us back from truly thriving at work and rising to our highest potential. So, in getting through a hard time at work, it is valuable for us to look at what negative patterns are showing up. Here are questions we can ask to tease out the negative patterns to be released and transformed:
where in my reaction to this situation do I least like my behavior?
what am I doing here that I wish I could do differently?
can I see why I am acting this way?
The third question is to offer ourselves some compassion. We're likely not engaging in a negative pattern because we're a jerk or a loser - we're doing it because we are somehow trying to be a good person. But, upon closer examination, we can see that we're not proud of our behavior an we'd like to do better. This is normal, and this is likely why this challenge is showing up for us, as an opportunity to grow out of negative behaviors.
2. Once we identify the negative behaviors holding us back, we can use the difficult situation to call upon a higher version of ourselves to show up in this situation and win. Let's say, for example, we're in the difficult boss situation. We've been excitedly sharing our creative ideas on how to approach our work with our boss, but our boss keeps shooting us down. Ouch! After a few let downs, our instinct might be saying it's time to start looking for another job. Instead of jumping the gun and hitting the job boards, we might go through the questions to see if we can identify a negative behavior pattern coming from our reaction to the situation. Here, we might notice that complaining to our friends and seeking a new job is our way of giving up our power and becoming victimy. We might also find that we become totally defeated and stop sharing our ideas altogether. If we're someone who wants to love the work we do, these tactics may seem rational under the circumstances but honestly will eat away at us! Each day we will die a little as we deny our authentic expression and hold back from being our true selves. Besides, ignoring the pain does not make the situation go away. If we ignore the situation, chances are it will follow us and that same problem will show up in our next job or with our next boss. What we need is an inside-out shift to grow into that higher version of ourselves who can and does turn this hard time around into a better situation. To get to the benefits of transforming ourselves and turning the situation around requires more self-examination. We can ask these questions:
how do I wish I could show up here / what are adjectives I would like to use to describe myself?
what are some fun ideas of how I can help myself show up that way?
who can I talk with or what can I do to support myself in making this shift?
The situation may or may not change exactly as we want it. And while that is certainly something we're striving for, that's not the whole point. As we do this work on ourselves to rise up higher, we are removing the blocks from the career we truly want and the person we most want to be. And from that, we will get the gift of getting through this particular challenge, and we'll be reminded for the next time that there are always benefits to be gained in getting through a hard time at work.
2 Meditations for Getting Through a Hard Time at Work
When we are in the throws of a hard situation and trying to transform it, this is an important time to be engaging mindfulness practices. Here are 2 meditations on the Insight Timer App (totally free) to support us when getting through a hard time at work (or anywhere):
Healing through Letting Go by Sarah Blondin
Decrease Anxiety & Increase Peace by Andrea Wachter