Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I'm taking it way back and talking about the hard time in my life that preceded my career change from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I wasn't always a joyful, peaceful, grounded person - that has come in time and with age. Back when I was a lawyer, I was quite the opposite. I had little joy (I worked so much it was hard to find time for the things and people important to me, let alone time for fun). I definitely had no peace. I wasn't anxious per se, but frantic. I was always being given unrealistic demands by the law firms I worked for, which meant I was always short on time, and that leads to a sort of frantic anxiety. I never felt grounded and at home in my life or my body. Again, a sort of frantic disconnect from myself and the world around me. My life didn't feel like my own - I felt like the law firms I worked for owned me. This wasn't just another case of "I don't like my job" - this was actually a toxic career to me. Things really came to a head when my father was diagnosed with cancer and died ten months later. I reached my breaking point with life, I guess you can say. I was really suffering inside. I share this because we all have a "dark night" like this in our life and perhaps you can identify right now. I remember so distinctly that feeling of hopelessness.
When I hit rock bottom, which was about 9 months after my father died, I decided to see a therapist. I had been before - this wasn't my first time. I had struggled with job dissatisfaction for a long, long time and I had sought the help of therapy on multiple occasions. This time was different though. Something had to change. This was not sustainable. It was no longer acceptable to me to live this way. Looking back, it's easy to understand why there are so many stories like mine: person hits rock bottom, person transforms life. Change is hard, and the pain of changing often needs to be less than the pain of staying the same in order for significant, big change to take place. At that point, I was willing to do anything, even if it was uncomfortable or painful, to change the course I was on. Deep down, I knew that life was so much more than the one I was living and you can say that losing my dad at a relatively young age (I was 33) impressed upon me the urgency of life. We are not here forever. It was time to change.
So, through therapy, I began to unearth the root causes underneath my hopelessness, disconnection, and downright depression. I remember this period of time - it was probably a good 6 months - where I kind of shut out the world and devoured my therapy lessons, books on related topics, and journaled the heck out of my thoughts and feelings. It was a sad time, but a really important time. I got really real with myself. I had to identify the thoughts and behaviors I needed to change. The fact of the matter is - we create our reality. Many of us take a "poor me" mentality (some refer to this as victim mentality) and blame other people and circumstances for why we're not where we want to be in life. Some blame parents, some blame a bad twist of fate, some blame some fact or circumstance of their life. It can be hard to admit that we've played the victim. But when we're stuck in this mentality, we don't get very far in life. Why? Because we've given up all of our internal power (some call this our divine power) to something external - to that person or fact we blame. That person or fact holds all the power over us. We're kind of helpless, and we're certainly not in a good place. This is why we seem to attract one bad thing after another. It's in giving up this victim mentality that I found my power. When you stop blaming other people or things and come to a place of forgiveness and acceptance, you stop giving up your power. And you start to realize just how powerful you are to decide differently for yourself. To choose a different life path. To tell a different story about your life. This was the crux of it for me, and I think a lot of people can relate. To a large extent, our society has taught us to think and act like a victim, not to claim our internal power.
So, looking back, here's what I'd say to the person at rock bottom. The person who's taking that very first baby step on the way out. This is before (WAY before) you make any big changes (like quit your career and start a jewelry business - that happened much later in the process!). Here it is: you have got to get really, really honest with yourself about your stories. What stories are running your life? Is your story "Life sucks and then you die?" I'm from New Jersey so pardon my bluntness, but I know quite a few people who believe in this story. Is your story "Everyone hates their job, it's normal?" Is your story, "My parents really messed me up and I'm never going to get very far in life?" Is your story, "My dad left when I was young so I must not be worth very much?" Is your story, "I have to please everyone else and what I want doesn't really matter?" On and on the stories go. Most of us have a few and, chances are, you don't have to think hard to identify yours. After you identify your stories, take a good hard look at your life. How have those stories shown up for you? Again, you probably don't have to think that hard (if you're being honest with yourself). Chances are, your life has turned out in line with your stories. See? You HAVE created your life intentionally - you have just done it with negative stories! The exact opposite is possible - you can create a life from positive storylines. Change the stories, and watch what shows up for you. Of course, it's not as easy as a snap of a finger. There are issues and root causes that need to be unearthed and replaced. But - in the grand scheme of things - it's a small blip on the timeline of your life. For me, this process lasted about 3 years. That's 3 years from rock bottom (my dad's death) to significant change (when I quit my lawyer job and started g+h). And I mean, that's some significant change right there! Almost everything about my life is different - my work, where I live, how I show up everyday (my energy and general demeanor), and even the people in my life to some extent. 3 years is nothing! So if you're stuck today, know it's temporary and know you can do a complete 180 if you're willing to get honest and put in some work. It is hard but it is worth it, one thousand times over.
I hope you've found this week's journal entry enlightening. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!
P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I'm in the process of creating a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate all of my journal entries. I have a few weekly journal entries on the board right now, and I'm adding more on a weekly basis. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past couple years and I want to make it easier for you to read the entries that resonate most!