Stopping The Hamster Wheel
By: Faith Pearce
(5 min read)
I would be a great contestant for the game show, Family Fortunes, this week. I am filled with over a dozen topics spinning around in my head. One of those has been around my previous employer and job engagement. If you’ve read my blogs from the past you know I currently have a lot more time on my hands recently due to being made redundant. Maybe that’s why there are more plates spinning in my head at the moment. Having more time can be a blessing although at times, I feel I need a moderator for my trains of thought. Having extra time on your hands is a great opportunity to let things come up. I’m a believer that there is a time and place for most everything. Although I might not feel that way at the moment. Anyway, I’ve gone off track.
I had a great week last week playing around with my right brain. It was a lot of fun. I painted and experimented with colors and textures I’ve not used before. I let my imagination run wild. For somebody who can be a perfectionist, it is so far removed from what is normal for me. It was quite bizarre. It was liberating to let the paint brushes flow and not think; not criticize or analyze what it could be, what it was or where it was going – just let it flow. This week, I’m way back to my left brain. It’s all about balance, right? Shifting from the creative flow to the analytic where you plan and take action.
So where am I going with this? I’m not always 100% sure…oh, yes, time. Time – I have had lots of it.
I worked all the way through Covid. And even when I actually took a ‘break,’ where could we actually go…the back garden. I feel like now for the first time in a loooong time, I am starting to be more present and unpack some of the things in my life that previously didn’t work. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of life and just keep going round and round and round not realizing how much you hate running. It just becomes normal. The chase.
Let’s take staying inside the house 24/7. It isn’t normal to withdraw from the outside world. It isn’t healthy. For many of us even though we hate isolation, it takes a concerted effort to create new patterns, habits, and routines in general, nonetheless to get us back out there if we have fallen off track a bit.
This happened with my job. I didn’t like it, but it became normal. The ‘I hate my job’ energy began magnifying at a rate I could no longer ignore. I didn’t recognize – until I had more time on my hand to analyze it – that I was most likely projecting my dissatisfaction. Our emotions or thoughts are often mirrored back to us whether it is from someone else in our life or in this case, from our employer.
What do I mean by this? Have you ever noticed when you are angry or tired you feel like people around you are being negative, abrupt or rude? It almost feels like they are egging you on or ramping you up. It is interesting how people react differently when we react differently.
I felt like I was being questioned on every part of my job and my interaction with others. This constant criticism caused me to continually question myself, and it created even more self-doubt. Thus the spiral cycle continued. Each party not trusting the other. And for me, an increase of distrust in myself.
I became so defensive. It felt like everyone was having a go. At times I second-guessed the validity in being scrutinized and on the other hand, I could find agreement. I would ask myself if I was being objective. Was I creating the situation? Had I backed myself into a corner finally causing no other alternative than for me to leave my job?
I don’t think any of it was on a conscious level, but the cycles both on their part and mine created a really toxic environment, all of which affected my confidence levels.
Today, I knew I was feeling off and as soon as I tried to speak to people, I could feel my anxiety brewing. It reminded me of what I was feeling in my work environment. I fell into my critical thinking mode. Did I communicate in the most healthy way? Should I have messaged them privately, emailed them, called them? The doubt and the questioning all resurfaced.
In my mind I was immediately back in the same situation with my employment. These questions were constantly thrown at me in my previous job. It wasn’t until I was able to create quiet and calm that I realized how my confidence had been knocked. It’s not until you step out of your own story you realize how bad it was.
So I stepped back and gave myself time to breathe. I started with one question…are my feelings rational? I followed my question with what I knew…I’m capable. I excel at many things. It’s in the spinning and in the running on the hamster wheel where my self-doubt kicks in.
Our environment and the people that surround us are so important. I remind myself of that in all my interactions whether in speaking to my daughter, friend, or mail person. If I am out at a store or job, when I feel unsure or don’t feel safe, I need to ask why? I have a right to step back and decide who and what I expose myself to. I choose to be surrounded by people that see the good in me and champion who I am. I choose a strong support team and those who do not want to dim my light.
I am greatly affected by the energy of others and by my surroundings. When I spiral, it is often due to one of the two being off.
My growth over the years has been a beautiful process. I can say that. The last year has been exponential. I have shifted from being a reactionary person who internalized everything to one who recognizes her red flags and aha moments more rapidly.
When I feel off, I honor it. I step back, and I check in with myself. I started my breathing techniques again which allow me space to align my feelings and thoughts. Sometimes the answers I find in my silence are simple such as being tired or hungry. I slide down the rabbit hole so rarely now compared to my past. I am in charge. I have control.
The old hamster wheel of life no longer serves me. I resist falling into the auto-pilot of life. I consciously choose to act versus react mindlessly. I have realized this hamster has found other ways of doing things.