I am exploring the fears I face as I continue my job search in a field I have worked in for the last 20 years: replacing negative feedback.
I am exploring the fears I face as I continue my job search in a field I have worked in for the last 20 years. In the original post, I identified three fears that grip me and have influenced my job search over the past few years. Some of the fears are decades-long, while others are more recent fears. But all of them have influenced my career development.
As I jump back into the search, after taking some time away from that field, I want to confront these fears head-on so I can move on — and move ahead.
In many ways, allowing this memory to continue to impact my current reality has led to me staying stuck in the past, rather than working on myself in the present. Little Edie, in the documentary Grey Gardens, says it best: “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”
I am resolute in making this line more pronounced.
The Lasting Impact of Poor Supervisors
We held similar positions in different offices when I began my job at the college where we both worked together. She even threw me a birthday party, before she became my boss. We hung out when we traveled for conferences and had lunch often even though we didn’t work in the same office.
I thought she was a friend.
Fast-forward three years and she became my supervisor. And we had an ill-fated conversation about my job that I kept to myself for months and months.
Her name is Sunny.
Before today, I never talked about her by name. Maybe out of some sense of professional courtesy or perhaps to protect her privacy. I thought that keeping the story focused on me would help me share the story with a wider audience.
I chose to sacrifice a more authentic version of this personal story to be a teacher. In that choice, I left behind the villain but carried the shame and doubt to be transparent and vulnerable.
But the fact of the matter is that she is as much of this story as I am. In naming her, I am no longer carrying this story on my own. This is our story — whether she remembers it the same way or not.
Because, honestly, after nearly 20 years, I need to let go of this story in its entirety, including holding on to her name on my own.
Checking the Expiration Date on Negative Memories
I am grateful that I have documented this negative experience on my blog. And I can now choose to never think about it again.
Experts have given amazing advice on how to move on. Below are 12 steps identified by Healthline. I have highlighted the steps that personally resonated with me.
1. Create a positive mantra to counter the painful thoughts
“How you talk to yourself can either move you forward or keep you stuck. Often, having a mantra that you tell yourself in times of emotional pain can help you reframe your thoughts.
“For example, says clinical psychologist Carla Manly, Ph.D., instead of getting stuck in, “I can’t believe this happened to me!” try a positive mantra such as, “I am fortunate to be able to find a new path in life — one that is good for me.”
2. Create physical distance
3. Do your own work
“Focusing on yourself is important. You have to make the choice to address the hurt that you’ve experienced. When you think about a person who caused you pain, bring yourself back to the present. Then, focus on something that you’re grateful for.”
4. Practice mindfulness
5. Be gentle with yourself
6. Allow the negative emotions to flow
“If you’re fear of feeling negative emotions is causing you to avoid them, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, Durvasula says that many times, people are afraid of feelings such as grief, anger, disappointment, or sadness.
“Rather than feeling them, people just try to shut them out, which can disrupt the process of letting go. “These negative emotions are like riptides,” explains Durvasula. “Let them flow out of you… It may require mental health intervention, but fighting them can leave you stuck,” she adds.”
7. Accept that the other person may not apologize
“Waiting for an apology from the person who hurt you will slow down the process of letting go. If you’re experiencing hurt and pain, it’s important you take care of your own healing, which may mean accepting that the person who hurt you isn’t going to apologize.”
8. Engage in self-care
9. Surround yourself with people who fill you up
“This simple yet powerful tip can help carry you through a lot of hurt.
We can’t do life alone, and we can’t expect ourselves to get through our hurts alone, either, explains Manly. “Allowing ourselves to lean on loved ones and their support is such a wonderful way of not only limiting isolation but of reminding us of the good that is in our lives.”
10. Give yourself permission to talk about it
“When you’re dealing with painful feelings or a situation that hurt you, it’s important to give yourself permission to talk about it.
“Durvasula says sometimes people can’t let go because they feel they aren’t allowed to talk about it. “This may be because the people around them no longer want to hear about it or [the person is] embarrassed or ashamed to keep talking about it,” she explains.
“But talking it out is important. That’s why Durvasula recommends finding a friend or therapist who is patient and accepting as well as willing to be your sounding board.”
11. Give yourself permission to forgive
“Since waiting for the other person to apologize can stall the process of letting go, you may have to work on your own forgiveness.
“Forgiveness is vital to the healing process because it allows you to let go of anger, guilt, shame, sadness, or any other feeling you may be experiencing and move on.”
12. Seek professional help
Identify Your Triggers
Mark Banschick M.D., in Psychology Today, believes we need to identify our triggers
“Everyone who’s been traumatized has triggers and responses. Get to know yours.
“When you run, freeze or attack, you end up recreating and therefore, re-enforcing the past. You freeze and people think you are cold and stonewalling. If you run, nothing will last. And, if you rage in response to being triggered, you are doing what was done to you. People will withdraw or be injured; not a good outcome.”
I must work to work on a different response when I feel triggered by my job search. I’ll never move past my fear if I keep having the same response over and over. Working on this trigger will only bring me closer to a resolution I can live with.
How to HEAL
I know that starting this journey to moving forward will require a scaffold to guide me. Author Rick Hanson describes a four-step process using the acronym HEAL.
- Have a positive experience.
- Enrich it.
- Absorb it.
- Link positive and negative material.
I recognize that after I left my job working with Sunny, I had some amazing supervisors and work experiences. Even my most recent job working at a college, which ended quite negatively, was a better experience than working with her. I have decades of memories to fill me up with positive emotions.
I have been told on more than one occasion that I am a profoundly impactful supervisor and mentor. And I am now allowing myself to absorb that feedback into my self-assessment. Rather than just hear one negative piece of feedback, I am more than that and will become even better.
And in naming Sunny in my story, I am now sharing this story so that it reflects both of our histories, not just mine. And perhaps this was something that reflected her growth at the time, not mine.
It will take some more reflection to create a new memory, but this scaffold is already helping me re-write my story more positively, but it is still worth sharing as a teaching tool.