Extreme Esteem: First step toward resolving incompatibilities is stop agreeing to them

If you don’t feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.”

Paul F. Davis, American business consultant

“I can’t sleep at all anymore, and by morning, I’m exhausted.”

“Sounds like a recipe for an ulcer,” I said, “or worse yet, a stroke.”

I was speaking with a friend about his new job. One that was out of his field of expertise and, to be honest, a little beyond his ability to execute efficiently. He had taken the job because he felt bored after years of the same old routine and, of course, there was that bigger paycheque.

“As hard as I try,” he admitted, “I just don’t seem to click with this job.”

“I think I know your problem,” I replied. “It’s called incompatibility.”

The term “incompatible” has been used to describe everything from failed relationships to blood types. Essentially, it means the quality of being unable to exist or work together.

Without awareness and a deeper understanding of self-motivation —components of healthy self-esteem —we can create tremendous stress for ourselves by striving to achieve things we think we need but living a life that is incompatible with our best interests.

Some people think a necessary aspect of creating the life they want is to continually tolerate negative aspects of their current existence, for example, tolerating a detestable job or cultivating relationships with those to whom they are philosophically opposed. They don’t want it but they’re saying yes to it. In other words, they’re not saying, “That’s enough!” Sure, there’s some logic to tolerating people and situations as a means to an end, but to endlessly endure an unhealthy situation takes a tremendous toll on one’s self-esteem.

If you’re feeling called to be in a different line of work, for example, then stop saying yes to the current occupation. That’s easier said than done and I’m certainly not suggesting you quit your job or coast through work. I am suggesting you acknowledge that change is necessary for your well-being and begin looking for new opportunities. Stop pouring your energy into something you know you don’t want and something that fails to fill you with passion and purpose.

I did much the same thing when I decided it was time to retire from my broadcast career. I had been working on my self-esteem for some time and finally felt deserving of something new and better. I was also willing to attempt something outside my comfort zone. Though I loved the people I worked with, I no longer felt compatible with the work and was merely tolerating it. Did I stand up one day and announce, “I quit?” No. My first step was to stop assuming I had no other options. Though I stayed engaged, I began making plans for a different future. Naturally, this caused me some stress, but it also allowed me to start accepting it was time for a change. Instead of being resigned to my job, I ultimately resigned from it.

After you’ve stopped saying yes, your energy and enthusiasm will rise to the point where you’re ready to commit to a new beginning. You may not be willing to say, “I quit,” right that minute, but you’ll know it’s unavoidable. You can see a fork in the road approaching. Your desire and expectation of something better to come will help to keep you motivated.

Perhaps George Bernard Shaw, the renowned Irish playwright, expressed it best when he wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” When you believe change is possible, a new day begins to dawn. The first step toward resolving incompatibilities is to stop agreeing to them. It worked for me and it worked for my friend who eventually landed a job where he “clicked.” If you want to travel the right path for you, then stop taking steps along the wrong path first.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator.

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