Opinion and Editorial

Take heart, your pain has a purpose

Laura Berger & Glen Tibaldeo
Filed on August 1, 2020

When we embrace pain, we release the power it has over us. We turn it into fuel to unlocking our most authentic selves.

Much of the discourse around the recent job loss, which has capped 40 million, revolves around the financial strain on individuals, and for obvious reasons. However, the implications can be far more damaging. In a culture that values career over all else, a job loss can mean a loss of self-worth. This presents an opportunity to dismantle your attachment to your career because you are not your work. You are so much more.

When I worked in corporate, I shrouded myself in my high-power career. When that was gone, rebuilding my self-worth became the new task. And in a culture that values career over passion, doing so was an arduous journey.

It turns out that our brains are hardwired to avoid discomfort. It is what scientists refer to as information-seeking behaviour. In other words, we are inclined to stay in our comfort zones. And when life throws us something like a pandemic, we will do anything to avoid an emotional breakdown. Enter social media, TV, food, and [insert your comfort zone enabler here]. You know the expression, "You can run, but you can't hide?" We can't outrun our emotions forever. Covid-19 may have fast-tracked that inevitable outcome for many of us.

If you have unexpectedly lost your job and sense of identity, you have the power to rediscover who you are and your real purpose. Below are ways to bounce back better than ever:

Accept what you cannot change. It is the first step to personal freedom. Covid-19 and its tidal wave of collateral damage are largely out of our control. Accepting our present reality, no matter how painful, allows us to take action.

Reflect and record. Set a timer for two minutes, close your eyes, and let whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations surface. Observe them without judgment. Then, spend the next few minutes reflecting on what came up for you by putting pen to paper. Writing has the unique power to unearth thoughts and feelings that we otherwise may not be able to access.

Be the grateful observer. First and foremost, your pain has a purpose. Choose to let it direct you to ultimate bliss and self-discovery. Knowing what freedom and happiness lie ahead, how can one not feel grateful for adversity? Whenever it starts feeling overwhelming-when your self-judgment appears-say to yourself, "I am grateful for this moment because I choose to go toward my best life." Remember that sadness, anger, and resentment are all human emotions.

Get curious. This is where it gets fun. In Costa Rica, there were no networking luncheons. Nobody asked me what I did for a living. They wanted to know me. So, I had no choice but to discover who I was. It was not easy. Some days were unpleasant, to put it lightly. Being in a foreign environment nurtures curiosity. As a result, I tapped into my childlike tendencies. And life suddenly took on a whole new meaning. It was fun! I liked myself! No frills. No suits. No recognition. Just me. In a tree.

Your values are gospel. Write down all your values. This excellent guide will help you do so methodically and thoughtfully. Knowing precisely what is essential will help us narrow down the careers that align with those core values. Then, write down all the reasons why you will not go back to your former life, no matter what. When we embrace pain, we release the power it has over us. We turn it into fuel to unlocking our most authentic selves. Using the steps above takes you on an incredible journey to the professional life of which you have always dreamt.

- This is an extract from the Radical Sabbatical, the Amazon Kindle bestseller by Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo.


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