Are you stuck in a job you hate, or has your career-change reached a plateau? It might be because you're avoiding 'The Suck'. Anthony Meindl explains why you have to look head-on at what isn't working to make a positive and meaningful change.
There’s a military saying: “Embrace the suck.”
It’s a very Buddhist concept. When we deny what reality is giving us, what is really happening, then we create suffering. So life is a dance between minimizing expectations and surrendering to what our lives actually reveal to us.
By embracing our lives totally (even the stuff that “sucks”), we get through them.
The Armed Forces have no other choice. If they’re out in the Iraqi desert or in the mountains of Afghanistan, the only way they’re going to get through those challenging experiences is by embracing (rather than denying or ignoring) them.
But for us with our modern conveniences and propensity for denial, we can distract ourselves, numb ourselves, fool ourselves over and over to avoid, disconnect, ignore, postpone, procrastinate and put our heads in the sand when we don’t want to look at what is.
Including feelings of unease or discontent towards unfulfilling careers.
The denial of something simply extends its presence.
The more you deny or try to rationalise away your feelings of discontent, the stronger these feelings will actually become.
So even though “the suck” sucks, the prolonging of it makes it even suckier. For longer. If you don’t square up and face your career discontent, you'll just prolong the agony.
So why do we do it?
In the long run we’d be much happier, expressive and creative if we rebooted our neural wiring and developed a different habit. But in the short-term, we’re willing to sacrifice our long-term goals and possibilities because the moment would require us to let go of habits that keep us stuck. The alternative is the unknown, which is scarier than “the suck,” so we just hang on to the old neural wiring.
The poet, David Whyte, says, “Anything or anyone that does not bring you fully alive is too small for you.”
If we can identify how we play too small and find the corresponding habit that keeps us stuck there, we can change our neural wiring to create something much more beneficial for us. A more productive habit, or the willingness to take a risk for something we really want to do, rather than staying stuck in a career coma.
A lot of the things that make us feel as if we’re not fully alive are self-imposed paradigms and dialogues we have with ourselves. We might say things that are unkind to ourselves and we don’t agree with, but we say them anyway. Simply because they’re habituated. Perhaps we repeatedly tell ourselves that ‘work sucks, but that’s how it is for everyone, so why should I hope for better?’. Or ‘I am so bored at work, but it pays well, and the upheaval of changing jobs would be such a drag, so I might as well stay where I am’.
We might be playing too small by the actions we take (or don’t take).
We might spend too much time on the phone. Drink too much. Browsing the web unproductively. We might have a friend who’s hurt us and we’ve not shared how we feel. We stay in jobs that crush our spirits.
All of this prolongs “the suck.”
- Write down five things that don’t make you fully alive.
- Examine why they are at play in your life. What are you avoiding or denying?
- What could you do to make changes to eliminate them?
Eliminating them requires awareness of what “sucks.” Then, no longer avoiding it, we embrace the sucky quality to get to the other side. Transformation.
You can do it. If it’s not making you fully alive, you’ve outgrown the need (or pay-off) of this thing anyway - whether that’s a thought or idea (‘work is supposed to be deadening to the soul!’), or in fact your current career trajectory.
Be brave. Have faith. Move on to the next level of your growth without looking back and feel fully, inspiringly, dynamically alive. It’s how you were meant to feel.
You just forgot because you got used to “the suck.”
What are you 'putting up with' or downright avoiding? What could change if you looked directly at the problem? Be brave, and share with us what you are dealing with below!
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and Artistic Director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop in London. His London acting classes meet Monday nights. AMAW is also located in New York, Australia and Vancouver. He is also the author of the new best-selling book, “At Left Brain Turn Right,” which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.