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Searching for work, and how the mind reacts

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

So I've reached a point where I am ready to make a new beginning in my working life. After a few years of being an independent consultant I've decided to go back and look for a full time job, and I'm finding there are some interesting reactions coming to the surface from the situations I'm encountering.

First of all, the idea of being judged by people "whose opinion matters". There is an almost atavistic response, kind of like butterflies in the stomach, of stress that is making itself literally felt in the body. Of course in the end these people's opinions affect only the impermanent state of the body, so it is a sign that somewhere deep inside there is some kind of survival instinct that I haven't yet let go of — something that still hasn't understood the importance of impermanence and letting go of clinging in the pursuit of peace.

Second, I have in the past had some complex relationships with my bosses, or I suppose one would call them managers in modern business parlance. There too I am sensing something unresolved, to do with authority relationships, which is going to come and bite me at some point by causing a flare of unwanted emotions.

Third, there is the whole tangle of reputation management in an organisation. You're often dependent on your reputation, on how much people think they need you, on how respected you are, to keep your job in difficult times. Just thinking about that makes me a little queasy, it is a sticky patch of nasty proportions which I don't think I have properly let go of.

How have you all coped with these kinds of work-related topics in a Buddhist way?


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited July 2017

    I am lucky that we do not rely on any income from me. I have not worked for 8 years, but in the next 18 months or so will be looking to go back so we can save more money. We do fine on husband's income, but it doesn't allow us to save or invest much. So I have been thinking about this stuff a lot. For myself, since I have the luxury, I've decided I'm not going back into any job that I define as soul-sucking. If we needed my income, I would do whatever I had to to take care of our family, of course. But as work will be a choice to improve an already stable family life, I will be able to find the job that works within my beliefs about life and work. No job is perfect, of course. There are always people to deal with in some way ;) But I'll have more ability to find a job that fits, rather than making my life fit the job.

    If your field is broad enough, you may have room to do so as well. Even though there is a sense of "this is how the business world works" there are companies that work outside that box. It might take more work to find them. But some of them are global companies that allow people to work from home. We live in a economically depressed area, but yet we have families with lots of money who move here. They telecommute, and work from home and make lots of money doing so, freeing up their time to live the lives they want instead of living to work. I know people who spend 20+ hours a week JUST driving to work. That is no way to live. There are other ways, I think, and I'm determined to find them. I refuse to give up a significant portion of my life (more than I have already) to working and losing time with my practice and my family to make someone else rich. My time is worth more than anyone can pay me, so it'll have to be a heck of a job that I enjoy for me to give up any of it.

  • kusalokusalo Monterey, California New

    Well at the risk of having too many posters on one thread with kinda similar sounding names all starting with K, just wanted to wish you both the best of Buddha as you rejoin the working world.

    I relate to much of the above because I felt out of place being an employee to the point that company life mostly made me feel uneasy and frequently stressed, especially by bosses whom I felt were inadequate and jobs/career that failed to bring out the true potential talent of myself and other employees.

    I ended up being able to do quite well as a mostly self-employed person pursuing my own projects about 3 days a week and then working as a part-time employee for 2 days with minimal contact with the corporate structure and personnel.

    However when I look back I realize that a lot of the stress and friction experienced when being an employee came from my inability to handle the dysfunctional aspects of either boss, fellow employee, corporate structure, or my own immaturity. As one grows up, and as one practices a Buddhist path, even if, for example, only for short times of meditation or a stuttering effort to live by the precepts, I believe one progressively handles situations ever more wisely, mindfully. So what were stressful or confrontational problems could have been turned around and overcome to achieve much more optimal ["win-win"] outcomes. Hindsight, eh?

    Fortunately I've made the leap to being completely self-employed, "working" [or solving challenges as I like to think of it] about 3 to 4 days a week, and enjoying my sunny but mild climate and being grateful for all that I have, including the inspiring guiding lamp of Buddha's teachings, the small sanghas of like-minded people with whom I practice and interact, and some great online resources and virtual communities such as this. Thanks!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Excuse me for breaking the alliterated posts, but I have to agree with @kusalo regarding our perception of our employers/company/colleagues. In a blunt nutshell, many if not most of them are stuck in their own samsaric "What's in it for me" worlds, and as such, can only think in a more or less one-dimensional way. 'Must stick to conformity in order to fit in and progress, even if the conformity sucks, is dysfunctional and on shaky ground, because swimming with the team works better than going against the current'.

    All very well and possibly negotiable in a meandering mountain stream, but far more risky and dangerous in a torrential mudslide.

    But yes, it's our perception as an added seasoning, that colours our View more, When as a small fish, we aim to control the Tiger shark in whose wake we swim.

    You have to decide which is more important, basically.
    Your own Principles and peace of Mind - or moving along with the corporate shark.

    And by the way, it need not be an either/or.

    The two may not be mutually exclusive.

    "If you can keep your head when all about you
    are losing theirs, and blaming it on you...."

    Little wonder that Kipling's Poem has constantly and repeatedly, won, hands down, the title of Britain's favourite Poem.....

  • karastiHozan
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