Regrettably, there are some companies which systemically churn and burn employees. No amount of pivoting and adapting to the situation or cultivating self-awareness, emotional intelligence or taking care of our mindset and wellbeing will improve things in the workplace. For the sake of our health, sometimes we just need to realise and accept that the ladder we are on is not leaning against the right house, and we need to move on. However, taking the step to move on is often easier said than done for two main reasons: Institutionalisation and Fear.
The longer we stay in a company, the more we become institutionalised. We adopt the belief that there are no other options out there for us, and we justify to ourselves that things aren’t that bad where we are. We fear change, the unknown, exposure, failure, judgement, and losing control. And, all of these fears become compounded when we become bogged down with life and fail to nourish our physical and mental health. In effect, when we don’t feel great and at our best, it becomes easy to limit the vision we have for ourselves based on our current circumstances.
But here’s the thing – if we allow our fears to take hold of us, then we can end up living in regret, stagnation, complacency and a deep feeling of helplessness and unhappiness. And so, to avoid this, we need to learn to release the False Expectations Appearing Real.
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Fear is a natural part of our natural human makeup that starts in childhood (Don’t touch that… Don’t talk to strangers) and evolves into adulthood where we become inundated with messages of fear, from society, the media as well as people around us. These messages of concern, as well as our past experiences, formulate our makeup and understanding of our world, which then creates mental roadblocks in our mind and can prevent us from making meaningful changes in our lives.
The main reason why I did not change jobs and careers sooner than I did is that I had an intense fear of failure. I feared the consequences of throwing away my job and abandoning my career. The inner critic in my mind, which can be a real doomsayer, would squawk fears at me, and, for a long time, I listened to and gave authority to this pessimistic critic. I was secure doing a job that I was familiar with, and my inner critic fed me stories that reinforced my need for security.
You might not make it on your own; you might and probably will fail. People will judge you for failing. Your failure will be criticised. What if things do not work out? What if you don’t make any money? What if you make a mistake?
I was eventually able to tame my inner critic when I began to read about people who inspire me; the athletes, the businessmen and women, the disabled and abled, the persecuted, the challenged and the gifted. I devoured books on and by inspirational people, and, the more I read, the more apparent it became to me that all of these remarkable people in pursuit of their dreams had failed at some point, and in the vast majority of cases, several times. Yet, despite these failures, they persisted, got back up and demonstrated immense resilience and determination.
Reading about these inspirational people empowered me to tune out my ego and fears, and gradually I began to hear the faint cries of my inner wisdom whisper You will make it. You will succeed. You will not fail. If you fail, you will be okay. What is the worst that can happen?
And when I asked myself, what was the worst that could happen? I realised that the worst had already happened – I had suffered from burnout, anxiety and depression. And, I had come out on the other side, and, with this realisation, I knew that I could endure more challenges and obstacles should they arise in the pursuit of my dreams.
To move past fear, we need to:
The steps we can take to mitigate fear are:
Using our imagination: