How to shift your attitude from out of dread into something more positive.
Is there a part of your work, your home or your community life that you dread on a regular basis?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to shift out of the dread to something more positive… dare we even say, to shift from dread to enjoyment? Yes, not only would it be wonderful, but it will also set you on a path for more happiness and thus more success…success on your terms… success as you define it.
One of my clients (let’s call her “D”) achieved this shift, from dread to enjoyment, in the space of just a few months working with me. Today she and I want to share her story with you.
D is a university lecturer who works mostly one-to-one with students, and occasionally teaches a course. She loves the one-to-one work but has long felt dread – a nasty, uncomfortable, negative emotion – about the classroom aspect of her work. Her desire to rid herself of this dread is one of the big reasons why D wanted to work with me. The dread was making her quite upset and exhausted and she knew that it was affecting her behaviour in many other parts of her life. What we want to share with you today is how we shifted D out of this negativity to a whole new, much more positive place. In fact, it is so positive a place, that D has actually been enjoying teaching her groups of students.
So, when D and I first started coaching together, we worked to uncover D’s values. Awareness of our values is so critical and yet few of us have spent much time reflecting on them. When we are aware of our deeply held values, we can work to make sure that our actions and behaviours are consistent with those values. We can make our “outside” line up with our “inside” – we can live from the inside out. We become more purposeful and energized. By contrast, when we live in a way that is out of synch with our values, eventually we “crack”. It is not a healthy way to live. It is possible to work on uncovering our values on our own, though I dare say it is much easier and faster to work on this with a coach or another supportive person where there is some accountability involved to keep you on track. (Here’s another blog post that also refers to values: Are You Exhausted from Giving? Inspiration from Give and Take by Adam Grant.) Anyway, having had these values conversations with D, we came to realize that that “connection” was something she values deeply and is also really good at creating. (This is also a character strength which would fall within “love” in the VIA Character Strengths classification).
We became aware that connection was a major part of what D created with the students she worked with individually and was a large contributor to her success with them. As she became clearer about this and felt more grounded in this value and strength of hers, D became trusting of herself and more courageous. She knew she needed to see the students in her classes as individuals rather than as an audience for whom she was performing, so she built a lot of individualized feedback into the class and openly told the students that this was her strength. She also focused on what her goals were for the students rather than pressuring herself to be a good teacher as she had in the past. So, D connected with the students’ needs as she prepared for class and then she connected with them when she was actually working with them as a group in person.
In sum, D looked inside, anchored in her value and strength (connection) and then began to shape her behaviours from that place. Her work responsibilities remained the same. Pretty much all that changed was D’s inner approach to her teaching and then from that, her outward behaviours.
Here’s what happened, in D’s words:
“I am enjoying my teaching course. It’s the first time I have ever been able to say that. I really feel my class is with me. It’s a revolution for me. A turnaround. The way I feel about it,…. the way I am thinking about it, experiencing it, is different. It is energizing not exhausting. …. I am being me in the classroom.”
Not only that, the students have been more engaged than ever and the work they are creating is of better quality than D has ever seen in the past.
So when D had the courage to “be me in the classroom”, she began to enjoy work she had previously dreaded and the students started to work even more effectively.
It’s a win for everyone! YAY!
Now before finishing up, let’s remember why moving from dread to enjoyment could be important for you, apart from the very obvious – that enjoyment feels so much better than dread. We know that, based on the science behind the positive psychology movement, being happy leads to greater success, not the other way around. So first cultivate happiness, including the positive emotions that you might experience when you are enjoying something (like, interest, amusement, gratitude, inspiration for example), and then find success….success that is meaningful to you. For more on moving on a path to success through happiness, click here and dive into a blog post that interests you.
So now, turning to you, Dear Reader, some questions to ponder…
• What about this story inspires you?
• Is there something in your life that you regularly dread or feel frustrated about or resent?
• Which of your values or strengths could you drawn on to begin to move you on to a path to more positive emotions and thus more happiness and then success?
• What’s one small step that you are inspired to take now?
D and I would love to see your comments on this!