Last weekend my husband and I went to a yoga retreat. I know some of you might think this is a little woo-woo, but we learned a lot about body alignment and how to take care of our own aches and pains. And the best part was the lazy afternoon hours between sessions when we could just lay on the hammock by the pond. It was a great time-out.
Since we stay in a retreat house, we also get to know the other attendees. It’s kind of like a big bed and breakfast environment. One afternoon I had a long conversation with fellow attendee Molly. I learned about her current career adventures and just couldn’t help myself—I started asking lots of questions.
You see, I noticed something when we went around the opening circle on the first night to introduce ourselves. When she told us about her current work, her voice trailed off into an unhappy sound. It registered with me.
Then one day we found ourselves conversing at the hammock. She opened up about her current work (which she dislikes, to put it mildly) and started talking about the next job she is starting soon. As she talked, she sounded just as unhappy about what was coming, as what she was leaving. She then said, “It’s a no win situation.”
Now my attention was all over this. I asked her to think about how she was talking to herself about the new job, and what she thought that meant for her success. She got the gig right away. She is leaving a job she’s spent three years in, hoping it was THE career track for her, but wisely figuring out how unhappy it made her.
Is she carrying the bitterness of her current job? Lowering her expectations? Afraid that she can never be happy in a career? Indeed, this was all reflected in how she talked about the new job. If you go in thinking you can’t win, well you know what they say, whatever you think will come true, just might.
I hope that after our conversation she is thinking more about how she talks to herself. If the self talk turns to, “OK, this is a tough job, but what can I get out of it? where can it lead? what can I learn to conquer in myself that will lead me to a better next step?”—these are all way better than staying mired in a “no win” trap. What a difference a difference can make.
I suggested Molly read John Izzo’s book about being happy in your work and life. I recently heard John speak at a conference about his research–he interviewed people from 60—106 whom others identified “as the one person they knew who had found happiness and meaning.” It’s very inspiring to hear how our elders, who have successfully lived their lives, give us tips on keeping ourselves balanced, laughing, and always moving forward.
If you’re having an internal dialogue like Molly, I suggest you pick up a copy of The Five Secrets You Must Discover before You Die. It may help move you into a better self-conversation.