For The Beast To Stay Alive It Has To Feed

Anger, bitterness, resentment; hatred.

You might have cause to feel these emotions from time-to-time, but I hope you come to realize that in choosing to feel these emotions on a regular, daily basis, you choose to allow whatever, or whoever, stirred those emotions in you initially, to win. The sooner you release those feelings, you purge yourself of their power over you, and you regain your control, take back the power and live a better life.

Now that’s it in a nutshell. If you stop reading now, you’ll have the point.

Here’s the thing about anger, bitterness, resentment and downright hatred; sometimes they come into our lives and change us without us being aware we’ve changed. Of course the people around us, especially the ones closest to us, see the change, know it’s not change for the better and are sometimes powerless to help us regain our former selves.

When you carry any of these four with you, the surprising thing is how they change our body language and facial expressions, alerting those with whom we interact that we’re in a bad mood. This often causes us to look unapproachable, best left alone and then it follows that this can build even more resentment as we fail to win employment competitions, find ourselves passed over for promotions or yes, find ourselves removed from employment altogether.

How we then experience the world changes, because of how we interact with the world. One of the healthiest things an angry, resentful, bitter person can do is let go of the hatred; releasing the negativity; healthy yes but hard for many. Change as you know is hard for some people, and change for the better is no different.

Now on the outside; from the objective point-of-view of another person, it might seem easy to let it go. “Stop being so negative!” It’s not that simple though, and does telling someone to stop being negative ever really have the effect of having that other person just say, “Oh alright. Thanks”, and then immediately change happens in a snap? No.

Change; real, lasting change in this case, only occurs when the person holding the anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred let’s it go. In order to let it go, there has to be some motivation to release it, something they realize they want more than they want the negativity. Again, it sounds obvious. Choose not to be so negative and you attract the positive to your everyday life. Yet, not easily done.

Much of the time there’s an element of forgiveness that immediately precedes the release of these four emotions above. The last thing however that an angry person who holds resentment and bitterness towards a hated individual wants to do is turn around and forgive them. No, often these are the very things that feed the feelings. It’s true you know; for the beast to stay alive it has to feed.

So you’ll find looking from the outside in that angry people carry that anger to new situations. They have short fuses and little tolerance for others who they have no reason not to like. At the same time they can want to have fresh beginnings and new starts in new environments yet bring all the anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred with them and when what they experience is the same as earlier poor situations, they mistakenly believe the world has changed for the worse. It hasn’t of course, it’s just how they interact with and experience it.

If this were an easy thing to change, these periods would be short-lived. However, as letting go through forgiveness can be so very hard for some, these four traits can rob a person of a life of happiness. Should that anger, resentment and bitterness spread to others and stir the hatred in them, it can become infectious and linger to become generational.

But for our purpose, let’s keep the mirror with only us in it. Look at a yourself in a mirror – not figuratively but literally – and what strikes you? Do you see defiance, anger, hostility and resentment? How easy or hard is it for you to bring a smile to the face you see and when you do, does that face smiling back at you hold a genuine smile or a sneer of disgust?

While change is hard – even change for the better – it’s possible; possible always. If it’s you holding the grudges and the anger, there’s got to be something occur that becomes the catalyst for change. It’s highly unlikely you just wake up one day and say, “Huh, I think I’ll embrace positivity from now on.” If you’re lucky, you might have others who see the good in you stick by you long enough to be around when you make the change. However, often the catalyst I referred to earlier that precedes real change in the direction of positivity only happens when you lose the ones that mean the most to us. They tire of the anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment, universal hatred and though it hurts them to do it, they move on.

Choosing what to feed – and it is a choice – determines how we shape ourselves and therefore how we experience the world in which we live. It’s therefore not so much what the world is doing to us but rather, what we bring to the world around us. Choose.

Have Anxiety? The Pain Of Job Interviews

If you’re like many people, you probably don’t practice your interview skills when you are employed. It naturally follows then that you can go for years between job interviews. As with most things, the length of time between when you last went through job interviews and the present is likely to affect your confidence in your ability to do well.

So if it’s been some time since you last had a job interview, it’s completely understandable that your skills are rusty. Maybe things have changed a lot since you’re last series of interviews; maybe you got interviewed and hired with the first job you applied to last time around and so you’re even under the mistaken impression that job interviews are a breeze and getting a job is actually quite simple.

For most, job interviews aren’t something to look forward to. Whether you’re out of work entirely or looking to move from one job to another or one company to another, thinking about job interviews alone can be stressful. That feeling of being under a microscope and being examined, interrogated, drilled, pumped for information, testing your computer software skills, having to prove you’ve got the skills and that your personality is the right fit so you don’t rock the atmosphere of the workplace – it can be very intimidating.

Now, consider the plight that those with clinical anxiety feel. It’s like taking all the above and adding this extra level of nervousness, anxiety and pressure. You can’t just say, “Get over it” and expect a person to respond, “Oh okay. You’re right. (Breath)… I feel so much better.” Don’t kid yourself; people with acute anxiety face a real personal challenge with job interviews and it takes a great deal of energy to deal with the lead up to a job interview and keep putting out that energy long enough to survive until it’s over.

Now unless you live with anxiety yourself, this might be hard to truly comprehend. The best way to develop some empathy for others experiencing anxiety and facing the prospect of job interviews is to first imagine something you feel anxiety over yourself. Think of your fear of heights, being a confined space, out in the woods alone on a pitch black night; whatever brings on the nerves for you. Now, further picture yourself having to experience your greatest fear a number of times; doing the thing you want to avoid, not in some effort to overcome your fear, but rather as something you must do – and do alone – to get something that you must have. For people with true anxiety, that’s the interview experience.

And this is what empathy is all about isn’t it? Listening to someone else talk about their fear and then going to a place in your own mind where you can get in touch with that same feeling. While you might not feel the same way about job interviews yourself, you just might be able to feel something close to what their feeling about some other event or situation.

I tell you this; many of the people I support and partner with as they prepare for job interviews have heightened levels of anxiety. In some cases, I can see clearly where the anxiety stems from, but not always. How a person imagines the interview often is different from my perception of the job interview. Take the people who have repeatedly been told they aren’t going to amount to much; the ones who have been put down, seldom if ever complimented and given words of encouragement. The prospect of going head-to-head with a job interviewer – or worse a panel of job interviewers – is daunting. Yes, feeling you have to sell yourself and prove you’re the best person when you’ve been told repeatedly you’re not by those closest to you is almost insurmountable.

The job interview therefore can be a pain; not figuratively but literally. As the body experiences the stress you feel, it attempts to regulate itself and get back to normal; whatever your normal is. A little stress every so often it can handle, increasing levels of stress coming every so often it can also deal with. However, heightened levels of stress on a fairly regular basis it can’t, meaning living this way on a daily basis could have you headed for a breakdown or illness of some kind. It’s like the body says, “If the brain can’t figure out how to deal with what I’m feeling, I’ll just shut down for a bit and heal”; so you get a cold or just have to lie down and rest for 2-3 days doing next to nothing.

This elevated state of anxiety can and does affect how and when you sleep, what you eat and how frequent. It can impact on your ability to keep food down, cause you to feel aches and pains, stress points, get headaches, become irritable, experience mood swings etc. Do you see how the prospect of a job interview on top of these can almost be paralyzing to some people to the point where they say, “I just can’t do it”; and they’re right.

This doesn’t mean of course people with anxiety should get a free pass. They know job interviews are necessary to pick the right candidate. Often, people with interview anxiety are the best ones for the job. It’s just getting past the interview.

Me Vote? Why Bother? Nobody Cares What I Think

You guessed it, there’s an election looming in the province where I live here in Ontario. It’s tomorrow actually, Thursday June 7th, and the stake couldn’t be hire. That’s hire; h-i-r-e in this case not, ‘higher’ which would be grammatically correct in almost any other sentence. Why? Simply put, your job could be on the line.

Now if you’re unemployed and have no job to lose, don’t feel smug and protected; you could be looking at a longer unemployed status, higher hydro bills and gas bills and a higher debt level for the province meaning you and your children will be paying higher taxes for years to come. Yep, this one is all about, ‘higher’ and ‘hire’.

But hey, you’re just one person with one vote. That single vote will likely be nullified and useless when the next person in line steps up and votes for another candidate – so what’s the point? Not only that, but suppose you haven’t got a clue what the issues are, who stands for what, where to vote or even how to go about it. Why, you might even feel that nobody cares what you or others in your age bracket or social class think anyway so you just don’t care; and it takes time out of your busy day too. Hold on there, sure these are reasons not to vote.

Well, no matter where you live in the world, I agree these could sum up the situation where you live when a vote comes around, be it a national or local election. Oh wait, that’s not true is it? No, I took for granted for a second there that everybody in the world has the right to vote and that’s not the fact. There are after all many countries in the world that aren’t democracies, where the people haven’t won the right to make that little ‘x’ beside the name of the person they’d most like to represent them in a position of power.

Now, yes, you might feel nobody knows you or others in your situation, and they don’t care to either. Let’s assume for a second you’re right. You could choose not to vote and perpetuate their lack of interest in making your livelihood better. On the other hand, suppose you and a lot of other people just like you DID get out and vote. Nothing might happen in this election, but voting numbers and WHO voted does catch the eye of politicians. Suddenly they would take an interest because it would be in THEIR interests to take an interest in you. You can bet that in the next election you’d hear them pleading for your vote and to get it they’d be both listening and putting the things in their platforms that you’d want for yourself. Don’t vote though and they spend their time dangling money and better living conditions for others.

Okay so even if you did decide to vote, you don’t know the issues? At one time, neither did I. Sure you can turn on a radio, listen to the news and find out a little day by day, but the election is tomorrow! I went online and typed the following into Bing, my favourite search engine of choice: ‘Ontario Provincial Election Issues 2018’. The first link that popped up gave me a breakdown of each parties position on the same issues. This took all of 3.7 seconds. Reading it and forming an opinion of what would be in my best interests and that of my family took about 10 minutes. Voting itself is at a neighbourhood school and it will take about 15 minutes to get there, vote and get home; unless of course we stop and socialize with some of our neighbours who pop by at the same time. Less than half an hour to get educated and vote. Hold that up against 4 years of the wrong party in power and it’s not an inconvenience.

So imagine if you will that a large number of people in poverty or young adults barely old enough to vote suddenly did so. These are two groups who typically get ignored by politicians because they don’t vote anyhow. You can bet the smart politicians – and there’s an oxymoron for you – would want to get your vote. They’d be holding town halls, visiting schools in greater numbers, improving social housing units, making transportation cheaper, eliminating some things you pay for now, and they’d make your future prospects better. They claim to do these things now in some cases, but often these are the first things to go when the money is tight and they get in power. That wouldn’t happen if the electorate threatened to vote them out. You see they get hungry to stay in power once there.

So look at who is bringing jobs to your neighbourhood. Who has money for training? Who will raise your wages or your quality of life? Who will shut down your industry and force you out of a job with their plans? In short, who will hurt or help you.

Vote or don’t at your discretion of course, but I hope you choose to. However, if you don’t, you should at least know what you’re passing up and be ready to live with the results for good or bad whatever they turn out to be. In fact, your present situation is largely shaped by your decision NOT to vote in the past.

Social Services Provider: Build Trust As Step 1

When you meet with someone for the first time, one of the best things you can do as an initial step is set yourself a goal of establishing trust. Yes you likely have an agenda in mind of assisting this person move from being dependent on Social Assistance or Welfare to financial independence. However, recognize that while this might be the ultimate goal, you’ve got to get at where they are now on that path to the goal; there could well be several steps they need to take before that final achievement.

This is the dilemma facing so many Caseworkers in the Social Services system; with sizable caseloads and seeing people infrequently, how does not take the limited time they have and just rush full speed at the end goal? After all, there’s administrative paperwork to complete that fulfills legislative requirements to be done which also restricts the time available to discuss employment. Given the meeting might be an hour maximum, there’s not much time to do what needs doing.

One of your first goals should be to find out what’s going on from the person themselves. You can’t do this well if you’re the one doing most of the talking, and you can’t do it at all if you’ve got this preconceived plan on what you’ll talk about and what you’ll get done. My suggestion is in setting up the meeting, invite the person to come ready to initially talk about whatever is on their mind. What would they like to talk about or ask? Even when you’re the one requesting the meeting, you can start by turning away from your computer monitor, giving them your full attention and asking.

When you immediately shift the focus to what they want to talk about, what’s important to them in that moment, you might surprise them. After all, they may be more accustomed to having past meetings driven entirely by the Caseworkers they’ve previously met with. While they might be expecting to sign some papers, talk about their job search and do it all only to remain eligible to get financial help, they really might not think you care to hear what’s going on. In fact, they could be quite suspicious; unsure if they could trust you enough to tell you their truths for fear of having their money put on hold.

Ask yourself this however; isn’t it preferable that you find out what barriers this person is really experiencing that are preventing them from focusing on their job search? As many of us know, there’s often multiple things going on. In addition to diminished self-esteem and a lack of confidence, the person might have a poor landlord their dealing with, no funds to keep their phone activated, issues of isolation from family, past or present abuse and of course transportation problems. Expecting such a person to, ‘get serious and get a job’ is going to fall on deaf ears. No that’s not true… they’ll hear that message and tell you what they know you want to hear but not really do what you believe they’ll do – they can’t!

Step 1 really is building trust. Create the climate where the person feels they can share honestly how they feel, what they cope with daily and where their priorities are and you’re on the way to truly helping. Now be cautioned, you’ll need to use your ears more than your mouth and listen to them. When you hear of their struggles and challenges, you could really be helpful by labelling the skills you hear them describe. They might tell you they’ve been emotionally and physically taken advantage of since they were a teenager, they held down a job for 4 years before losing it when they had to move to get away from their abusive partner, and since relocating to their present apartment they haven’t met any friends and their new landlord keeps putting off needed repairs. Maybe what you hear is resiliency and courage.

Resist the urge to fix the problems right away. Have you heard this before? There’s a good reason for this advice. So often in the role of Helpers we start thinking of the solutions while the person is still sharing their problems. We want to fix what’s wrong; just as we would if we were parents hearing our children tell us their struggles. But you’re not a parent in this case. You risk losing the opportunity to forge a true connection if you rush to solve the problems you hear. You also reinforce their dependency on others to solve their problems instead of letting them arrive at the solutions themselves and reinforcing their belief in their own abilities to do so in the future.

Now I don’t suggest you hold back on sharing possible solutions. Sure, share your resources and places to get the help they could use. As for a job, sure it might be their goal. However, to get AND KEEP a good job, they may need to discuss some things first that increase their chances of long-term success. Giving them the green light to focus on other things and have your support might be the best thing you can do for this person at this moment and remove the job search need entirely for a period.

This is their life journey. You and I? We’re just some of the good people they meet along the way who are privileged to be included.


The Resume Gap Question

“Now, I noticed there’s a gap on your résumé of 4 years. Could we talk about that?”

Up until this point in the interview, you’d been feeling pretty confident and self-assured. You’d been answering questions put to you by providing real examples from your past which have demonstrated your strong skills and abilities.  Then this question about that 4 year gap. You feel as if they can look right through you at the truth; it’s like there’s a lie detector strapped to your right arm and it’s about to reveal whatever you say as an attempt at a cover up. This interview that’s been going so well is about to take a nosedive.

Hang on a second. Let’s pause, take a deep breath to get some air into our lungs and relax here for a moment. I can help you with this one and together, we can come up with an answer that you can give with confidence and not ruin your interview. Take another deep breath; in……  and out……

Better? Good. Whenever you are faced with a tough question in a job interview; and this question may be your Achilles heel, remember one basic truth; you and you alone get to decide what you reveal and what you conceal. Now by conceal, I don’t mean lie. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you should know I never advocate you lie in an interview. That being said, you’re not under some obligation to reveal absolutely everything; especially anything you feel may damage your chances.

Now to give you some options from which to choose which will aid you in your own interview, I’d have to know exactly what this gap is all about. The more you tell me – and tell me truthfully – the better able I am to help you craft a plausible and honest answer which will satisfy the person asking the question yet keep you in the running for the job. So please, whomever you are working with yourself to prepare for job interviews, give them the honest answer. Knowing the real reason helps them help you.

One thing it’s fairly safe to assume if you loathe this question, is that this gap has a negative event preceding it. So perhaps you were fired, you were convicted of some crime, you had a mental health issue, you quit your job due to a death of someone near to you, your addiction to drugs or alcohol got out of control and you haven’t been able to get hired since. Might even be, that lately you haven’t even really been interested in applying for work with any real dedication.

Saying any of the above would only seem to kill your chances of getting hired, and telling an outright lie is ethically wrong, so this is your dilemma;  you’re stressed out even thinking about it now and you’re not even in an interview at the moment!

Relax. You’re not in an interview as you say. First off, I want you to hear and understand that many people – more than ever in fact – have had the same problem you have now and have gone on to successfully end their job search by getting hired. You can do this; you will do this. Don’t focus on the problem itself, but rather picture the positive outcome you want; in this case, getting past this one question and being offered the job.

The question is asked to show a problem. That’s the purpose of the question. You do not have to reveal every detail in an answer. If you have something to share which puts you in a bad light, you’ve got options:

  1. Deliver the bad news briefly and honestly. Spend the other 90% of your reply rebuilding their faith in you by pointing to what you’ve done in those 4 years. Mention what you’ve learned, how you’ve changed, what you now appreciate and that whatever happened in the past is exactly that – in the past. No concerns at present to wonder about.
  2. If the situation now has changed; that ailing family member you quit to take care of because you couldn’t care for them and hold down a job has passed on or is now in a nursing home getting the care they need, say so. It’s not something that will keep your job from being number 1 again.
  3. Draw on their empathy if possible. Maybe you quit a job because you were being exploited and the experience left you emotionally frayed. After getting some professional help, you’re now ready to move forward and you’ve got the clearance and support of a professional behind you. Details are not required.
  4. Should you have lost your job due to an addiction, you need to first be honest with yourself; are you able to work without relapsing when the money starts coming in? How are you going to deal with things when you’re stressed and tempted? Be honest with yourself when you decide if you’re ready.

What safeguards do you have in place to assure an employer you’re dependable and will show up physically and mentally prepared to put in the work they are considering hiring you to do? Backup childcare provider in place, siblings to check in on your parents if there’s a problem, support group outside of work?

Remember they like you on paper enough to consider you for this job. Therefore, say nothing that will change that perception in the interview.

Want To Keep Your Job?

There are those folks who find getting a job relatively easy. While this may seem incredible and grossly unfair to the highly motivated people who have become extremely frustrated with prolonged job searches, you and I probably know someone for whom this is true. Their problem isn’t getting work, but rather, keeping the jobs they get.

It’s one thing for an employer to release an employee when its totally beyond the control of the employee, but far too often it’s actually the behaviour of the employee that brings about their departure from the company they worked with. When this is repeated a second or third time and a pattern of behaviour results in parting ways often, it should be a clear sign that’s it not them; it’s you.

Sorry if you didn’t want to hear that. Then again, I suspect people who lose their employment already know they’re responsible for their frequent unemployment through job losses.

So if you find it helpful, or perhaps if you’re relatively young and new to the world of work, here are some things to avoid and keep the jobs you get.

  1. Be on time. Show up when you’re scheduled and expected. If you start at 9:00a.m., don’t walk in the door at 9:05a.m., look at all the faces turned your way and say, “What?” Being late every so often might happen – on the day you drop your car off for service . However, being late often is a sure way to alienate yourself from other employees and force your boss to do something about it – namely let you go.
  2. Work when you’re at work. If you get in the habit of arriving at work only to then go make a coffee sit and chit-chat with your co-workers, visit the restroom and then eventually get to work 25 minutes after your start time, don’t think it goes unnoticed and therefore approved. Arrive, get settled and get to work. This is what you’re getting paid to do, and if you don’t do the work, they’ll find someone eager to replace you.
  3. Get help with your addiction. Seriously, it is a problem and if you can’t see it, others can. You’re probably not as good at covering it up as you believe you are, and trying to master it alone isn’t what’s going to work. Whether it’s the drinking 3 or 4 nights a week that has you occasionally coming into work hung over or the drastic change in your mood swings due to withdrawal, it’s noticeable and it’s going to cost you eventually. It may be easier – much easier in fact – to simply let you and your problem go and not invest a lot of time and energy supporting you and your problem. If you’re holding a job down at the moment, now’s the time to get support with your addiction.
  4. Don’t steal. Call it what it is; it’s not borrowing, or taking something because you’re owed. The thing about stealing is people start noticing when things go missing. While you might honestly find you’ve nicked a pen when you’re halfway home, you can hardly say the same thing about the cash in your pocket, the printer paper you’ve stashed in the trunk at noon, or the toilet paper rolls you’ve got on the passenger seat beside you. Toilet paper oddly enough is the number one thing employees steal. I know; bizarre!
  5. Follow procedures. Sure, sure, sure there’s a lot to be said for being productively disruptive. I’m this way myself if I’m honest – and I am. However, I’m smart enough to know that rules are put in place for good reasons. If you want to question a policy or procedure go ahead and do it respectfully. Maybe even ask to pilot a change. However, if you want to last, take heed to following those established rules.
  6. Join the herd. Ever notice in the wilds that the prey always target the animal they can separate from the rest? When threatened, animals are smart enough to group themselves together and fend off trouble. Get along with others you work with. No you don’t need to befriend them outside the workplace, but do engage in friendly conversation and be helpful on the job site. You may actually need these co-workers down the road and hey, they might need you.
  7. Respect the boss. Should you respect the boss, the place the boss holds or both? If you find you don’t respect the person, at least respect their place as your supervisor. While you might not like it, failing to respect both the person and the position they are in could land you in a heap of trouble. Running to their boss and complaining might make you feel better, but what’s more likely to happen is the Manager sides with the boss and you’re the easier of the two to remove. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll come to respect the person eventually anyhow.
  8. Watch your words. The place you work isn’t likely a street corner, so be smart enough to know how you talk in these two places may be very different. Keep foul language, slang and while we’re at it keep gossip out of the workplace. It’s not productive, hurts people and if it’s harassing, you might be the cancer that needs removing. Zip it.

There you go. 8 items to be aware of if you want to keep your job once you got it. Care to add to the list?