You may long for the days when your professional life was easier, the days when you excelled. Others referred to you as the ‘expert’. Thinking back, it seems like you had it made. Today is different. You feel out of place as unfamiliar exposure follows you amidst a new bureaucratic maze. The job isn’t what you expected, and you lie awake at night thinking you made a terrible mistake.
You see what you believe. It is a concept referred to as confirmation bias. For example, if you believe your child is the best child ever created, you will accumulate evidence to prove this belief true. Over time, you will have made numerous mental notes of all the reasons why your child is the best. And you ignore evidence that disputes this belief. Therefore, if you consistently tell yourself the job isn’t what you expected, your brain will work to find all the relevant proof … and it will ignore the rest.
Confirmation bias is a critical reason why self-awareness is germane to your well-being (see Post #05). When your brain reinforces negative beliefs, it is creating stronger neural pathways that over time, become easier to access. This is how you create new habits. Therefore, it is your job to filter your thoughts and beliefs. Hold on to those that are working well and discard the self-destructive statements that serve no purpose.
First thing is first: self-awareness. Recognize the self-destructive chatter such as, “I think I made a mistake … It shouldn’t be this difficult … I must prove myself … I miss my old team … people think my job is a joke … I hate the environment … I don’t want this, etc.” You may wonder, “How can these be self-destructive thoughts if they are true?”
Great question! This leads to the next step: analyze how your thoughts enhance your life. Create 2 columns on paper and try this exercise. Column 1 is labeled ‘Thought’; write down your thoughts. Column 2 is labeled ‘Positive Results.’ For example, perhaps it is true you don’t like the new environment. What positive results are created in your life by this thought – how does it move you forward? If this belief does not support your well-being, it’s time to toss it.
In other words, you will contribute to your own agony by focusing energy on the negative beliefs.
Perhaps the job isn’t what you expected. Many jobs won’t be. Lots of things in life aren’t as expected: relationships, plans, children, etc. The question becomes, who do you want to be when expectations are not met?