Are you holding yourself back by not ‘letting go’ of conditioned thinking?

“There were two monks walking along, an older monk and a young monk. They came to a shallow river, and there was a lady there who demanded that one of them should carry her across the river. So the older monk carried her across, and the two monks continued walking.

At the end of the day they decided to rest for the night. While they sat by their fire, the young monk said indignantly to the older monk, “I can’t believe you carried that lady across the river! She was perfectly capable of walking across, and she was so rude! She did not even thank you! I really don’t understand why you did it!”

The old monk smiled at the young monk and said, “I set her down hours ago; why are you still carrying her?”

Conditioned thinking is what this story tells us. The message is crystal clear. It’s about what you hold onto and how you relive the way things should or shouldn’t be. This is a burden you alone choose to carry. Nobody makes you do this. However, due to what you are conditioned to believe and think, and what you perceive other’s expect of you, you take on the challenge of carrying around unnecessary weight.

Cast your mind back to your childhood, your education and your youth. What transpired during those years? You would have been largely and directly influenced by your parents, your teachers and society. The conditioning you received became ingrained in your mind, your thoughts and your actions, as a result.

Are you keen to challenge your own conditioned thinking?

During my work with individuals who are in career or life transition, as a result of redundancy (lay off) or of their own choice, the concept of conditioning plays a significant role. It regularly rears its head as people  work through the 6 Steps of my career navigation process. Conditioning often gets in the way and can stifle your progress, but only when you let it, especially when not paying enough attention to Step 1 “letting go and looking forward”.

What is the impact of not changing the way you think, especially when you know you need to?

A good example is a client of mine who has experienced quite a journey since leaving employment. Having investigated a few similar alternative options, he decided that these are not suitable. Why? Because the realisation dawned that he would just be going back into ‘jobs’ he was trying to get away from. Unsure of where the process was heading, there have been emotional ups and downs. He realised that going through the process is a positive means to move forward, to help change his perspective and look at what he can do through a different ‘lens’. However, he has been holding on to the need to look for a ‘job’ to earn a regular income with the belief this will allow him to feel more settled. Will it though?

My client’s feelings and emotions are perfectly natural and he is right that working through my proven Career Navigation Cycle process will help him move on but he must learn to ‘let go and look forward’. Just as important is for him to remain true to himself and not to go for what he believes to be ‘the easy option’ i.e. getting another similar job, as this will more than likely only increase his frustration and anxiety.

Take a leap of faith and ‘uncondition’ your thinking

Another example is a client who is exploring alternative opportunities away from the conditioned thinking around the ‘need to get another job’. Working a few days per week on business development for an old contact, she sees this as one way to start to build a variety of income streams, to give her the chance to develop a Portfolio Career and what I call a ‘blended working lifestyle’, of her choice.

When you think about what you can do, from an exciting new perspective, with your array of skills, talents, interests and passions you possess, you will give yourself permission to challenge your thoughts and ideas and banish your conditioned thinking from the past. Imagine your own personal realisation when you discover that it is OK not to have to have a ‘traditional job’! Perhaps you can research some new ideas, gain clarity on the paid work you wish to pursue and let the rest evolve?

No longer limit yourself, instead discover what can be

 Release your conditioned thinking. Instead, choose to focus on reaching your own true potential. Getting another ‘similar job’ says this: “I’ll stick with the known, believe what others had told me is the right thing to do (conditioning), and remain as part of the ‘big herd’!”  In the infamous words of the late Henry Ford…

Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right  

The choice is yours!

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, the Career Coach’s Coach, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy.