This article is part five of a seven part series on unplugging from the cubicle. Read the full introduction here.
The Breaking Point
I had to search the records management sector of my brain. March 6th or 7th, right? Definitely 2009. Maneuvering towards my desk clumsily, my feet felt encased in concrete. I coughed in reaction to that stifling meeting room. Funny how meeting rooms can be mistaken for sealed off mausoleums. No air, always rife with dead bodies.
We were under siege, I had managed to walk away unscathed — this time.
Others weren’t so lucky. The scene of redundancy mimics the rituals of a funeral, too. Observers gather, appearing silent. Meanwhile, their emotions are bubbling. The whys? Hows? Who’s next?
No arrow through my chest, but a virus had entered my system.
“We’ve had to let a few people go. We are busy, but need people in certain areas, namely where you are right now. Soo.. moving upstairs to work with Shelly won’t be happening. At least for 6 months.”
A death knell looming over me. I thought back to 2 months earlier, when the prospect of “moving upstairs” reinvigorated my work ethic in this company. The carpet tiles were just pulled from under me. Promotion, gone.
My attitude and will to be present in the cube wilted, plummeting to earth as Icarus did, his wax wings softening under the sun.
When 6 months had passed, movement upstairs fell eerily quiet. A year was approaching, and I had no more corners to hide in any longer. My concentration suffered, in tune with any desire to wake up and haul my carcass into work. My patience was a teetering pile of brittle sticks.
I officially had it, what to do now?
Own Up to It
If your situation is similar to mine – promotion reneged, longer hours or quadruple the job duties, it’s time to face a truth: accept. A scenario you hoped would change or improve, hasn’t. The previous stages covered how our clever minds fool us by playing by the system, essentially denying our true feelings.
Perhaps the moment has come when you can no longer shovel dirt over the problem.
I had to dig hard, deep into my emotional landscape and embrace the unavoidable. Be honest with yourself.
I point you to a fitting article by Sonya Derian of Tiny Buddha, aptly named 5 Ways to Let Go of Resistance.
Be clear on how you participate in the reality you continue to experience. Ask yourself: What limiting thought, belief or pattern of behavior am I currently holding onto, that is standing in the way of my desire? What story do I keep telling myself or others that affirms the current position I’m in?
What part of the equation am I participating in that continues to get me the same results? Because the truth is, you are always living your unconscious expectation. Becoming aware of your “status quo” will give you the first clue on where your work lies.
Take 100% responsibility for being the powerful creator that you are.
When you’re ready to embrace a large dose of self-honesty, you begin to accept the position you’re in.
What Does Acceptance Actually Mean?
Acceptance can boil down to that moment you tell yourself, “No more denials or distractions. I put myself here, am present. AND know for certain I can’t be ‘here’ any longer.”
In my estimation, that’s the first step.
What arrives next is a spiritual explosion. I combed through every proactive decision or passive action taken in my job. I was finally able to see I had done everything conceivable to create that conventional life so many of my friends were embroiled in. I followed the steps, poured over diagrams intently. I could press ahead with a clear conscience. I could actually admit without guilt, “I don’t want this life, I want something else.”
Real acceptance is knowing you did your part, and emotionally peering forward without major regrets.
You stop replaying events, stop wishing it could be this or that. And what might be unearthed is an inviting cloak of peace enveloping you. A lucid state never before reached.
Most of all, accept your power to change, because going backwards isn’t an option. You’ve already been there, why continue to repeat?
How Will I Know?
Just like that Whitney Houston song, how will you know this stage has flourished?
- You stop harping on the past.
- You begin to review concrete options, instead of choosing methods to mask the obvious (i.e., consumerism, escapism, booze).
- You stop blaming others. A common theme, in an attempt to explain why you ended up at an unrewarding job.
- You no longer feel helpless. A spark is lit internally. One that will ignite action.
- You take responsibility for how you got there in the first place.
- You are afraid. People skitter from fear, but I contend that the fear of doing something new signifies a close proximity to what you long to do. Whatever your passion is. It’s a renewing fear, not the kind that closes you off from possibility.
- Physical signals of stress begin to lift.
The fable of Moses leading the Israelites from Egyptian enslavement serves as a powerful allegory. Become the Moses of your destiny, part the sea of confusion and ineffectual behaviors to cross over into acceptance. Making amends with the cubicle will bring you closer to freedom.