Birth Pangs in the World of Work
By Tanis Helliwell
When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.
– Viktor Frankl
We are experiencing a great deal of pain presently because of the upheaval of all the life and work values and roles on which we have based our security. Because of this loss of “knowns” in our lives many of us are suffering loss, confusion, frustration and often anxiety and panic. We might dearly love to retreat to the safety of the “old” system where it was safe, but this cannot be. Painful though this experience is, the shake up of old values and ways of working are the birth pangs of a new way of working.
Success, as our society perceives it, is frequently accompanied by a great deal of pain. Dr. Howard Hess, when corporate psychiatrist for Western Electric, said that people were promoted to their level of pain. The pain of what he called “success trauma” is caused by guilt, loss of peer acceptance, fear of increased expectations and responsibility, identity confusion and addiction to success. And psychological pain and disillusionment with our culture’s view of success appears to be happening at even younger ages. University of California psychologist Robert Perry has stated that he’s seeing more 25 to 35 year olds who “have made it and don’t like it.”
I believe that people often do not change until the pain of changing is less than the pain of staying in the painful situation. We have come to this point now in the work world. Workers are crumbling with the pressure of doing always more with always less. At the risk of appearing sadistic, I am hopeful precisely because so many people are in pain and will, as a result, put pressure on organizations to revise work policies that are unhealthy for almost everyone.
Addiction to overwork, as described in Diane Fassel’s book Working Ourselves to Death, can kill our soul if not our body. Characteristics of workaholics include denial, self-esteem problems, looking to others for approval, inability to relax, and obsessiveness. According to Fassel this results in dishonesty, self-centeredness, isolation, control, perfectionism, lack of intimacy, self-abuse, physical and psychological problems and spiritual bankruptcy. These conditions of workaholism are soul destroying and the opposite of qualities that consist of living a soul-infused life. All of us ultimately come to a stage in our growth where the personality desires must submit to the needs of the soul. Workaholism is a refusal of the personality to relinquish control. The personality attempts—by doing more—to shut out the soul’s voice that calls the person to reflect both on what they are doing and how they are doing their work.
Numbing the Pain
Dr. Larry Dossey, medical doctor and author of several books on the importance of the way we think about our health, points out that the largest number of heart attacks occur between 8:00 and 9:00 A.M. on Monday mornings. What are we doing then? Going to work. Doing work we don’t love is literally killing us. Some individuals numb their pain through television, cigarettes and alcohol addiction, while others become compulsive neat freaks, changing their clothes twice a day and keeping their homes spotless, in an attempt to control their lives. Still others have settled into a complacency—a learned helplessness—and in a numb semi-awake state walk through the motions of life without joy.
The late Mother Teresa comes to my mind when I think of risks we might be asked to take to heed the soul’s call. She was 38 years old and teaching geography in Calcutta when she heard her soul’s call. As she says of her call, “Vocation is like a little seed. It has to be nourished; it cannot be forced. It has to come from above.” I believe that we, like Mother Teresa, have the seed of greatness within us no matter which form it takes, but if we do not listen and act on that small inner voice within us we will be unsatisfied with our lives no matter how great our acclaim from others.
Tanis Helliwell, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions. Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which offers programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.
Tanis is the author of The High Beings of Hawaii, Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Hybrids: So You Think You Are Human and Decoding Your Destiny.
For information on Tanis’ courses, click here.