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The Value of Things We Don’t Like

By: Dr. Jim Goldstein

The Value of Things We Don't LikeI’ve always been amazed at how quickly and easily people will complain. Pass around a microphone in a group of people and it won’t take long for them to tell you what they don’t like. Over time, most of us have come to recognize the corrosive effect of negativity on our health and peace of mind and when possible, we try to avoid negative people and conversations. I’ve learned, however, that there is tremendous power in recognizing what we don’t like. It’s not that we should focus on the negative or gather agreement from those around us about how horrible something is. Instead, we can use the clarity we gain from a negative situation to help us learn what our values are and what we like and want.

I’ve been in many jobs in my life and in each one, I always managed to find something about it that bothered me, that wasn’t quite right. Sometimes I didn’t like the hours. At other times I didn’t like the office gossip, the commute, the product, the politics, the way my boss spoke to people, the lack of parking, the bureaucracy, the dependence on the weather, etc. Had I continued to carp on those things, I would have become the kind of radioactive person that people avoid at work.

Instead, I kept using all of those things I didn’t like to show me what I was looking for, what I really wanted in a work situation, in a company, in a boss, in co-workers, in a product, etc. It helped me formulate a vision of the perfect work situation for me.

In my vision, I am with people I like and respect who think I’m great. We work hard but have fun and are productive. We have a product and services that everyone wants and we are doing meaningful work that really helps people. There is hardly any paperwork, and a lot of repeat business with multiple streams of income, and satisfied clients telling others about our services. Everyone can make as much money as they want and never burn out doing it. No one is tied to the desk. They have the freedom and support to do what they need to do to be successful and are held accountable for their productivity and the quality of their relationships, not the hours they put in. Everyone helps each other. We laugh a lot and share in each others success.

Over time my work situations have improved, incrementally yielding higher levels of job satisfaction. Most of the improvements occurred as a result of recognizing what I didn’t like and seeing how sharply it contrasted with what I really liked and wanted.

The key is to acknowledge what it is that bothers you and immediately let it inform your vision of what you really desire. Then, imagine yourself in your ideal situation and how it would feel if you were there right now. The more you can see and feel yourself in the job (or relationship, for that matter) of your dreams, the easier it will be to transition from where you are to where you want to be. What would your ideal job or relationship look and feel like? Don’t be surprised if your idea is driven by what you’d like to improve about your current situation. It is supposed to be that way. As long as you don’t linger on what you can’t stand, the things that you don’t like will help you create the life you really want. Keep your mind on your desired end result and let go of how it will manifest. Your dreams aren’t that far away.

I’d love to hear about your ideal relationship or work situation. Your comments are always welcome.


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