Photo Credit: Michael Rosner-Hyman, Unsplash.com

Written by Lauren Pla
October 11, 2019

I have a hard time being untruthful. When someone asks me how I am—and I don’t feel fine—my brain doesn’t really want to answer with “fine.” But it isn’t always the right moment to unpack my feelings, say, to the gas station attendant. Or, perhaps, he might be the exact right person to talk to, but that’s probably a story for another day. 

My point here is that when I’m asked a question, I deeply and truly want to answer as honestly as possible. The desire to stay true to this is such a high value of mine that it actually is part of what caused me to walk away from my job back in November. 

I worked for the same company for 15 years. I started there when I was 28 years old. Honestly, I was still a child compared to today and I grew up there. It was small and we were a family, with all the good, bad, and ugly family stuff. I figured I’d be there forever. My boss (the owner) and I had a good relationship. Communication was very open, and there were many occasions I had asked to speak freely so I could speak my mind. Those conversations always seemed to go well. 

Then, a few years ago, things started to change. He started to change. He started looking at everything negatively. It was subtle at first, but over time, we all noticed it . . . felt it. And that’s the thing. It was a feeling. It was a living, breathing cloak of quiet negativity that suddenly enveloped me every time I walked into the office.

It was the way his spin on things was always coming from a place of “what didn’t we do right” and “what could we do better.” Any wins for the office were short-lived and he would almost immediately want to know what was next. There was no “being in the moment” for him, and eventually, I recognized that I was being robbed of my moments.  

Boundaries Create Balance

It took me a long time to understand that. I think the subtle shift that was happening was preventing me from being able to be grateful for that new client, or that new project, in order for me to appreciate it and have that good energy flow back out into the Universe and return to me with more. At the time though, I just felt annoyed. 

But then . . . the meetings. 

We started having meetings a few times a week and he’d ask us the same questions. The first few times we all sort of played along, basically feeding him different versions of the same answers he’d asked days before.

However, soon it truly became a struggle for me not to point out what was happening. I felt I had no time for the meeting—since it was repetitive—and I became frustrated to have to pretend any of us were getting anything out of it. I felt constant conflict and what I came to realize was that the conflict was not with my boss, it was literally inside me. I was in conflict with myself.

I wasn’t speaking my mind and that was uncharted territory for me. It felt . . . uncomfortable. It wasn’t until later that I learned the direct correlation between my values and my conflict. One of my highest values was being challenged, and that caused me inner turmoil. But like any middle-class person working to support themselves and a family (and pay a mortgage), I ignored it. 

I worked really hard to get to where I was in that company. I had a good gig there, too. I made great money, had the freedom to work from home, and actually enjoyed the job.

Man, if it weren’t for that little nagging something that wouldn’t quit! I moved from feeling frustrated about the stuff going on around me to being frustrated that those things were going to make me have to leave. What a bum deal. I spent a ton of energy blaming my boss. Let’s be honest, it sucked. The easy thing, that so many other people would’ve been able to do, would have been to smile and nod and move on—get paid and sleep at night. But not me. I couldn’t sleep at night because of that darn, nagging, relentless inner conflict. 

Shift Your Energy

Then one day, during one of the hundred-thousand vent sessions I was having about my situation, one of my friends hit the doozy button and asked: “So, which value of yours is being challenged right now?” It was like fireworks in my brain. That was when I got it. That was when I realized my life was about me.

And so I took control of the most important thing—myself

Discovering the power we have over ourselves and then putting it into action is truly incredible. It’s like a superpower that we all have but most of us never tap into. In every moment we have a choice, and with that choice comes power. I wouldn’t suggest to everyone that they leave their job in this situation . . . that’s a personal journey. But I did.

As I said in the beginning, I have a hard time being untruthful, so I won’t tell you it’s been easy. I’ve had to make changes, and there are even days I wish I knew more clearly what my future looked like. I mean, who doesn’t like assurances? But what I will tell you is that I learned a great lesson about myself that I’ve used many times since the day I left, and it has shaped me and carried me. It was invaluable as I live my life going forward, and I realized I wasn’t meant to change the situation, the situation was meant to change me. 

So tell me, what situation might be trying to change you right now?

Photo Credit: Michael Rosner-Hyman, Unsplash.com