About Work

Today I have thought about work a lot.  That's all I have managed to do: I have THOUGHT about it.  Once again, I felt drawn to re-read my little e-book Conversations with Batty - how talking to myself kept me sane. I found the Chapter appropriately entitled 'Work'.  Here it is in case you find something useful in it for you.  As always Batty (my Bi-Polar Disorder) speaks in italics and I wrote these internal conversations as they came to me without any censorship nor post-editing:

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You look preoccupied.

I have been thinking about work. To be more precise, I have been worrying about work.

What’s up?

When I think about work, a part of me recoils, another part gets excited, another part feels resentful, another part feels scared, and the last part feels really happy.

That’s a lot of parts!

I know – I don’t know where I stand or how I really feel.

It seems to me you are confused because you are confusing ‘work’ with ‘past work’.

What do you mean?

I mean that all your different feelings make perfect sense when you consider your past work experiences. These past experiences get mixed up with the new work experiences you wish to create and towards which you feel very differently.

It’s true. The part of me that recoils is recoiling from repeating the same mistakes I have made in the past. I have had it with working ridiculously long hours for little financial return.

Fair enough. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to work long hours for little return, unless they were engaged in charitable endeavours.

I think I use to mix up ‘work’ with ‘charitable endeavours’! That’s the problem. I also assumed others knew better about running a business, often against my better judgement or my better intuition.

What have you learnt from having made those assumptions?

I have learnt that I have a much better business acumen than I used to give myself credit for.

That’s good news, isn’t it?

I guess so.

OK so what are you scared of?

Two things: making the same mistakes again business-wise, as I have already said, and getting too carried away with my own enthusiasm so that it threatens my precarious balance.

You know that focusing on the things you want to avoid isn’t an effective way of avoiding them. If anything, it increases your chances of bringing them into your experience. How about putting those thoughts into positive language?

You’re right. I want to ….. From now on, I want to make the most of my business acumen and trust myself to use my energy in a sustainable way.

That’s much better.

The problem is that it is easy for me to change my thoughts to positive ones and yet still feel very negative underneath. I never used to recognise that but the last four years have helped me see that it is what happens. I have tended to paint a positive thinking gloss over deep negative feelings.

That’s a great piece of insight even if acquiring it has cost you dearly.  It is your reward for being in much closer contact with your physical self than you used to be. Your body never lies even if your head is more easily manipulated.

That’s true.

So what feelings are left inside beneath your two positive statements about your business know-how and your energy?

A sort of muddy sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach.

It sounds like something is nauseating you.

Yes! That’s a good way to describe it.

What is it that you find so nauseating?

I don’t know. The feeling is getting stronger though.

OK – let’s stay with your nauseating feeling.

Easy for you to say…..    ……..    I am going to get a drink. I’ll be right back. …… The word that keeps coming to my mind is ‘stupidity’, I find my own past stupidity nauseating 

Nauseating is a strong stomach reaction to stupidity.  It’s as if you hadn’t digested your past.

As you said this I felt a sudden strong sense of resentment.

Resentment is sure to make you feel bilious, hence nauseated.

I am becoming aware that I still carry some resentment towards a certain person and the way I was treated.

Good – what are you going to do about it?

I am going to write this person a letter. It doesn’t matter whether I send it or not – in fact, I think I’ll burn it. That feels right.

Excellent. Fire is a purifier.

I am amazed at how present that person’s name is in my mind right now. It looms very large. I need to shrink it so that I can swallow it, digest it and excrete it.

Sounds like a good plan to me. So, what now?

I now know that I am holding on to my mistakes because I haven’t let go of another person’s behaviour towards me. In a way, that makes me feel better towards myself. I think I have been too ready to blame myself for everything. I now know that if blame there was, I only deserved a part of it – not the whole lot.

Excellent. I am all for you taking responsibility for what is rightly yours but not for what belongs to others.

Thank you for that.

What about work then?

I now feel calmer about it – more curious than overly excited. I feel good.

Good. Now what else do you wish to talk about?

I’d like to look at the relationship between positive thinking and positive feeling in more depth please.

OK – what is your question?

In NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), it is often said that you can change your state – i.e. the way you feel – by changing the way you think.  For me however, this has never worked. Why is that?

Again you seem to be confusing two things: your state and your healing. Your emotional state is immediate and present. You can indeed change how you feel by changing how you think in the moment. It’s raining. You can either look at the weather and think ‘oh no’ and feel down about it, or you can choose to think ‘thank God for all the plants’ and feel good about it. Such techniques are very good at helping you change your emotional state in the present or by repeating the positive thinking exercise over time so that it becomes an automatic feeling habit. This approach is not so helpful when dealing with deeply anchored feelings that have been there for a long time.

So I can change my state in the now but if I glibly apply this technique to deep feelings - particularly those from the past - I am just painting a positive gloss on negative emotions.

You know what to do with well-established deep feelings because you have done it many times before.

Yes – I move myself very gradually and gently from my worst feeling towards my best feeling by asking myself ‘what thought would help me feel a little bit better’ and I also use The Journey (1) method or EFT (2).

Good stuff.  And these work for you?

Yes.

In a way, the first technique you mention is close to NLP.

That’s true – I had never thought of looking it at that way. There was something else I wanted to ask you about my seeing the direction I want to go into regarding my work but I cannot remember what it is.

OK  then – let’s catch up later.

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I love re-reading what I wrote 18 months ago or thereabouts because it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how I feel nowadays about the issues that were important to me at times of writing.  I have completely forgotten the resentment I referred to above: I must have burnt it completely out of my system. Not only that but I no longer feel fear not stupidity either.  I just feel tired today - that's all.

I am glad I wrote down my conversations with Batty because I now realise that not only did they do a lot for me at the time in terms of increased self-awareness and self-responsibility, they are still doing a lot for me now. Without them, I would not remember what things were like for me a few months ago and could not therefore bear witness to the recovery road I have travelled since.  Thank you Batty  :D

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