"I feel like I'm having a heart attack! I can't breathe. My heart is racing ."
"I'm here to help. You're not dying. Let's focus on slowing down your breathing."
"What was that?"
"You were having a panic attack. I've had them before. It feels like you're having a heart attack, but there's really nothing physically wrong with you. It's just a physical reaction to your mental and emotional state. Do you have any understanding as to why you would have a panic attack? Are you stressed, overwhelmed, upset about something?"
"Yes, yes and yes."
Don't Panic, Take Action
Have you ever had a feeling, or a situation pan out like the one described above?
I know I personally have.
I was in a job years ago that was not an ideal fit. I took it when it was offered to me due to my own desperate circumstances at the time -- my wife and I just moved and she was months away from giving birth to our first child.
That job took an emotional toll on me, to the point that I felt physically ill on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, I think this same scenario is true of many people. Perhaps even you.
For me, I was denying myself the ability to be myself in any recognizable form by being in that job.
That job and the organization I was working for at the time didn't really allow it. They took several measures to squelch individuality.
As a result it was extremely damaging to my spirit, motivation, psyche and personal relationships.
I knew something had to change, but I was unsure how to change it, and I unfortunately knew that change wouldn't happen all at once like I wanted.
Building Small Positive Habits
So, I promised myself that I would do at least one thing every single day that was an effort to move me into a new job away from the organization and position I was currently in.
I started reading -- daily -- what I used to consider very cheesey positive affirmations and related books. Over a short period of time the effect of this was clear to me -- it worked to help move past my negative mindset.
I carried around a small pocket sized notebook to use as an anxiety journal. Every time I started to feel anxious I would pull out the notebook and quickly jot down what I was feeling anxious about. Releasing it from my brain proved to be very beneficial.
Then on my lunch hours and in the evenings -- long evenings taking care of my newborn son -- I sent out job resumes, connected with professional contacts via email and social media to make forward progress on my goal of leaving that job for something that would allow me to be more authentic.
Why Protecting Your Authenticity is Not Selfish
From the moment I made the commitment to myself, my wife and my young growing family that I was going to positively change my employment circumstance, it took me almost 8 months of grinding it out, everyday.
However, I had an interview with a small entrepreneurial HR software organization that went well.
I don't even really remember the interview process -- I was so exhausted and running on adrenaline at the time, but I do remember mustering all my energy to present myself and my marketing portfolio of work.
Later, my boss who hired me, told me that I was the only candidate that came in with a portfolio of work examples to share. He said the candidate race wasn't even close after he met me.
Wow, that felt good!
Getting hired at that job, at that moment in my life, helped me turn the corner on what I was capable of if I relied on my authentic self.
That situation made me realize that I'm most successful when I'm my authentic self (I'm not necessarily speaking about monetary success, but that follows when you truly are who you are and you protect that).
I learned that it's not selfish to protect your ability to play to your strengths and be your authentic self so you can stay positive, productive and happy for yourself and those you care about -- it's a necessary survival skill.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
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