job hunt

I’m tired. I’ve been applying for jobs the past few days, which is very exhausting because I have to continually fight the negative thoughts.

I read a job description, and I immediately pick out everything I can’t do. These cant’s have nothing do do with me not being qualified–they are the social aspects of the job. Behind every single can’t is a negative experience, or failure on my part, from my past. For example, if one of the qualifications is that I need to be able to to work independently and as a team member, I immediately think back to my former job when I failed at this; or, more precisely, what I perceive as failures. I was fine with working independently, but I had trouble working with others, socially speaking. I never knew what to say or how to act. I questioned everything I did .. every .. little .. thing.

I also put up a difficult front. My anxiety caused me to appear stoic and unapproachable. This, coupled with shyness and introversion made it difficult to connect with people. My co-workers thought I didn’t like them, which couldn’t be further from the truth–I so desperately wanted everyone on my team to like me. (Why do I let other people’s opinions affect me so much?) But I couldn’t break through this pressure. Day in and day out, I wanted to make connections, to show that I was a valuable member of the team, and to not make any mistakes .. and everyday I failed in some way.

The more and more jobs I look at, the more and more I tell myself I can’t do something–and the more I rehash something from the past. I am just rehearsing my failures, and the more I do this, the more I believe that I am a failure, and eventually I get locked in a cycle.

Fortunately, because of CBT, I am aware of all this, and can break through the cycle; nevertheless, it’s still exhausting having to continually fight my negative thoughts. You see, each thought means much more than it should. These perceived failures are in the past. I am a different person now, and I am capable of so much. I can do anything I want. Yet, I forget this as I apply for jobs. My exhaustion has lead to a small depression, and now I’m feeling hopeless–all because of my negative thoughts, which are just based on distortions of my past (they are irrational interpretations, in other words).

What’s more, I’m applying for jobs I don’t necessarily want.

I want to work in the public library, but none are hiring because of the economy right now. I’m worried that when I do graduate (next summer) and get a degree, I’ll just have to go back to some office job. I’m trying to prepare for that now. Maybe if I get some simple part time job, I can slowly immerse myself back into the “real world.” I think if I wait and jump back into a stressful office job in the summer, it won’t go very well. I need gradual exposure in order to learn how to manage my anxiety.

So, I’m stressed, worried, and anxious about the past and the future. I’m not present. In conclusion, I’m concerned–

  1. I won’t be able to use my degree to get the job I want.
  2. I won’t be able to find a job at all (and if I do, it will be similar to what I did in the past and I’ll just be miserable again and end up quitting).
  3. Because I won’t be able to find a job or quit some other job, I won’t be able to pay rent and I’ll either have to move in with my girlfriend’s family (if they’ll take me, of course) or move back to Kansas City with my family (again, if they’ll take me).
  4. As a result, I will be a failure.

Do you see how powerful thoughts are? I have to continually remind myself that I am capable of anything. I may have struggled in the past, but I am changing. I just need to try to take it slow, gradually exposing myself to situations I’m afraid of–and, above all, stay present.

I guess I could always fall back on something like this if I can’t find a job.

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28 responses to “job hunt

  1. I recommand employment agencies if you want to consider the private sector. A lot of jobs are only available through these agencies because some companies don’t want to go over all the work of handling applications. And the interviews are easier because they trust the agency – you can even become the prey instead of the hunter!

    Libraries interviews can be very anal and ask a lot of “what would you do if” questions. It’s ridiculous. It can shake the most confident candidate so if you really want to work in a library, know that it’s unpleasant for everyone to get in. I hope this thought makes it easier for you and not the opposite…

    Maybe you can try different strategies and then obtain motivation from whatever works best. Maybe you’ll obtain a job that’s good for a while until you get the perfect job for you.

    I’ve been where you are right now. It’s both depressing and frightening (as if one wasn’t enough). Just try your luck and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. Thanks for the feedback! When I had my interview for an internship at a library, they did ask a lot of situational, “what-if” questions. It was rather annoying.

    The public library actually just posted 3 new positions that I’m qualified for about an after posted this post, so I’m feeling better.

  3. Oh, my god. This is exactly what I’ve been going through these past few weeks. I’ve just written a post on my blog that talks about job-hunting. It’s been more than 10 months since my sick leave, and I can sense some progress taking place inside me. Yet, I find it nearly impossible to break my negative and malicious thinking pattern based on the past because I had gotten so used to it.

    I think it is good for me to start thinking about getting another job, but I have tremendous difficulty figuring out what it should be. I’m aware that I am capable of doing some things, but I’m also aware that I screwed a lot when I was an office worker at the current company. As you did, I tried my best to get everyone to like me so I would keep a place to belong in the section.

    I think you’re doing great, although you may find it difficult to think that way. You worry about the timing of getting your degree, don’t you? That is a really sensitive issue for sure. I hear the economy there has been sluggish, and I can easily imagine how hard it must be because the same is happening in Japan as well.

    I hope I don’t sound stupid, but I would suggest that you try to find jobs related to books, like working at a bookstore as a cashier for example. Don’t bookstores like B&N hire anyone right now? Or what about libraries at schools or other institutions? You might want to consider signing up for some online recruitment agencies as I did and see what is available to you. I wouldn’t recommend that you get a job like your previous one because that would probably send you into severe depression.

    I’m often worried if I can ever work again. Reading about people like you who have gone through similar experiences helps a lot. I hope you’re feeling better, and I may e-mail you again in the near future to have some chat about this subject. Take care, man!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I really do not want to go back to an office job. A few research jobs have opened up through my school, and some jobs opened up at the public library yesterday–which I am in the process of applying for. I am feeling better about the situation now that I’ve talked about it. I also hashed it out with my therapist last night–it all comes back to my dissatisfaction with myself. Anyway, I hope things are going well for you, and I’ll check out your blog later.

  4. When I took my writing class we had one night when we talked about work, and everyone was saying that they are NOT team players and it seems every job description requires a person to be a team player. Where do all of the non-team players go? I’m lucky in that I get to work all by myself, but it is also isolating. I don’t get overwhelmed though, which is good for me.

    This resonated with me so much: “Fortunately, because of CBT, I am aware of all this, and can break through the cycle; nevertheless, it’s still exhausting having to continually fight my negative thoughts.” I totally agree. I know I can do it, can fight the thoughts, but I get tired of it. I would rather that I didn’t have the thoughts in the first place! Is that ever going to be possible?

    • What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?

      I think eventually as we break the cycle more and more, the negative thoughts will dissipate and eventually disappear–in theory, at least. I know mine have been gradually slowing. They’re still there, though–they just don’t have the same power over me.

      • I am an executive assistant. Most of the time at work the people I work for aren’t there. One boss works out of his home, so I spend my days at his house, which is nice. My other boss has an office, but she usually isn’t there when I am working.

      • Sounds nice. Would be perfect for someone with social anxiety. 🙂

  5. I never understood just how powerful thoughts were until I developed panic disorder with agoraphobia. And you’re right having to continually fight them is exhausting. I am always asking my pdoc if it is always going to be this way. I have both types of jobs where I either work alone or with many other people.

    • I definitely don’t think it’s always going to be like this. The more we experience situations that used to give us anxiety and panic, anxiety and panic free, the more our brain changes–and, overtime, our thoughts will change, which will change our beliefs and behaviors. It will take time, but we will change.

  6. There is something to be said for the positive experiences overriding the negative experiences that create the negative thoughts. But this is a coding issue too. How were those negative experiences you had encoded? Because unless there’s similar encoding of the positive experiences, change will be much slower. Look at how you subjectively represent those negative experiences that create the negative thoughts. So, if a job requires that you be able to work independently, and you get one of those flashbacks of a time in your life when you “failed” at doing that, look at how you represent that to yourself. Is it funny or is it devastating to recall the event? What are the colours, sounds, feelings involved?

    If you have an understanding of how you code these things into your personal ecology then you can use it to make sure the positive experiences of the present and future are encoded in a similar way. This will give them enough power to challenge the negative experiences and bring about an organic experience of the truth of reality and of yourself and what you can do and what is possible for you.

    • You’re on to something much deeper than I normally look at–at least in the terms of CBT. I think understanding the past is essential, as it shows how I create meaning in the present. If my filter–i.e., social anxiety–isn’t working, then I do need to look to the past to understand how that filter got into place. I think, though, before I begin to understand how I “coded” my current beliefs, I just want to get a handle on my thoughts.

      I can catch my negative thoughts quicker. I am more aware, in other words. And I am working more on not accepting those thoughts, and, instead, viewing reality a little more objectively and positively.

      I do agree with you that as I go through life with this new filter, I need to re-program, or re-code, my experiences in the same way, in order to override my previous codes.

      I hate these computer metaphors, but they do seem to work.

  7. Actually, it’s more powerful and potent the other way round. We’re not talking about time the force here. We’re talking about “Mike time”. If I am down about my looks and look at a picture of myself then I feel that the picture makes me look ugly. If I’m happy about my looks or feeling good about myself, I can look at the same picture and think I look good. Memory is state dependent so that understanding of the past you seek will be influenced by how you feel in the present moment.

    For sure, past experiences conditioned you to some degree. But the question is, which experiences, why and how?

    For sure, getting a handle on catching those negative thoughts is great. Trouble is, fear needs more than a thought to build a foundation for something that will hold you back. I don’t have phobic reactions to ice and snow because I think ice and snow are bad things. I have phobic reactions because I slipped on ice, fell and shattered my elbow joint. My body remembers the pain, my mind feels under threat and the whole thing goes into panic attack protection mode.

    It’s not so much that I think about the negative things that happened. Their power over me came from how they were encoded.

    The thought and the experience are working together. If you think negatively about yourself you don’t think things like: “I’m a big pink elephant”. Because, chances are, that makes no sense on either a past or potential experience level. You haven’t been a pink elephant and you’re unlikely to end up as one so there’s no need for the mind to protect itself by you imaging what it would be like to be that elephant and worrying about it.

    Your ability to accept or reject those negative thoughts is also dependent on your ability to accept or reject the power of the experiences that either created the thoughts or work in tandem with the thoughts.

    The socially anxious person is not sat there simply thinking: “i might end up being laughed at if I go outside”.

    The socially anxious person is imagining what it would be like to be laughed at if they went outside or remembering a time from their past in vivid detail when they were laughed at outside.

    Individual reality cannot change on a thought level alone. It’s the organic growth element that has the bulk of the power.

    • Yes, I agree- thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m also in talk-therapy to address some of the deeper issues. That is, to help re-frame past experiences. It’s been tough, but good. That said, I do think one does not need to re-frame their entire past to get something out of CBT.

      For example, if I got made fun of because my face turned red when I made a class presentation, and I developed a phobia of speaking in front of people because of this, I do not think it’s necessary to change, or re-frame, the experience in positive terms in order to change present behavior. I think you can change your thoughts and slowly immerse yourself in the feared situation until your behavior has changed. This, in turn, will change the deep-seeded belief.

      Tell me about yourself. You seem very adept in what you’re talking about. Do you suffer from social anxiety? Have you tried CBT? What interventions are you using?

  8. Dear Mike,
    I can completely relate – just last year I finally earned my bachelor’s degree – something that was a goal for me for a long time (as I dropped out of college the first time around – it just wasn’t for me – to go right after high school) – so I went later in life… So I understand the anxiety about not wanting to waste all that time for a job that isn’t even in the field you worked so hard toward….

    I too understand the anxiety when looking through jobs – and picking apart the things I can’t HANDLE – which – like you explained – doesn’t mean you can’t do them – it’s just that it causes high anxiety…

    I have to tell you that because I understand so much of what you’re saying and because this is currently what I’ve been discussing with my therapist (as it seems you are too with yours – I agree – CBT is the way to go!! :)…

    This is what I’ve come to terms with (and granted everyone is at a different stage in life, but I’ll share my thoughts and hopefully you can take something away from it…

    1. Through your therapy and the inner work you are doing on yourself – you ARE finding your true purpose.. and it WILL all come together – have faith in that… even when it feels like you never will (I’ve felt that way many times…) but I’ve learned that the universe has a plan for each and every one of us… and we ARE being led…

    2. Another way of looking at the your anxiety – If reading about a certain job causes anxiety it’s your body telling you “this is not for me”… please don’t settle for a job that you know will make you miserable… I know it’s probably annoying to hear given the condition of the economy… but if it’s possible for you – I hope you can do so…

    3. Start off slow – volunteer somewhere that interests you – it can possibly lead to other opportunities… plus with volunteering it’s a comfort to me (as someone who deals with major anxiety too) to know that I am GIVING MY TIME – and I’m more or less in charge – and it’s a way of easing myself back into the work force…

    4. Then from there go to a part-time job… something that interests you… and just work your way from there…

    I TRULY hope you can find a job in a library since that is where your heart is leading you… I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers that something opens up and works out for you – maybe volunteering there will help lead you to a job as soon as one opens up? More than likely they will go to someone they already know – it saves them the hassle of having to interview others…. I got a job offer from a place I was volunteering at… so it’s a good idea! 🙂

    I’d like to leave you with a couple inspiring quotes that I love and that help me:

    “Your mind can hold only one thought at a time. Make it a positive and constructive one.”

    “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~ Rumi

    I hope I didn’t come across as annoying!!! I could just REALLY relate to you and am in the same boat in many ways… It helped me to read this knowing that someone else out there feels the same way I do!!

    Take care and I hope you have an anxiety-free (or lessened anxiety 🙂 holiday season!!! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011 – and even moreso – to a year filled with wonderful opportunities!! 🙂

    ((Hugs))
    Christine

    • Hey Christine. Thanks for the comment. You definitely gave me a lot to think about. I am somewhere between step 3 and 4. The public library doesn’t take volunteers because they don’t have a volunteer coordinator (because of budget cuts), but I am volunteering through one of the library’s outreach programs, adult literacy training, and through the friend’s of the public library. I am actively searching for a part-time job and am a lot more confident in my abilities, socially speaking. I applied for 8 jobs that opened up at the library last week, and if those fall through, I’ll continue looking elsewhere.

      I have been thinking more and more about going abroad and teaching English after I graduate, as I think that would be really rewarding. Also, there is a part of me that would like to teach, but I don’t know if it’s right for me. Teaching abroad would help answer that question.

      Thanks again for the comments. I love the quotes, by the way.

      Take care, and I hope your holidays go well, too! 🙂

  9. “For example, if I got made fun of because my face turned red when I made a class presentation, and I developed a phobia of speaking in front of people because of this, I do not think it’s necessary to change, or re-frame, the experience in positive terms in order to change present behavior. I think you can change your thoughts and slowly immerse yourself in the feared situation until your behavior has changed. This, in turn, will change the deep-seeded belief.”

    Different people heal in different, unique ways so there’s some merit in that healing process.

    But I’m not really talking about looking at the past event and reframing it in “positive terms”. Reframing has its merits but there’s a lot to be learned from looking at the representation of the event that is, apparently, the cause of a particular phobia. How has the individual represented that memory to themselves?

    Take someone with a fear of flying. Now, you can change the thoughts and take them on thousands of flights where nothing goes wrong at all. And they may start to feel better about flying and not demonstrate the same amount of the phobic behaviours and actions as they used to. However, what about the next time they fly? The thousands of plane trips are no proof whatsoever that, next time they got a plane, there won’t be a disaster where they find themselves in danger.

    The phobia is a protection device. Sound the alarms and protect the self. If the fear of flying started when they went on a flight and something did go wrong….if that was the cause of the phobia…then it’s not flying in general they are scared of. It’s not flying in general that they are running from. They are running away from the possibility of what they experienced on that occasion happening again.

    The event in the past has power. But why? How has it been encoded in terms of subjective experience? Is the person, when they remember the event, seeing things through their own eyes or looking a themselves in the feared event as it happened?

    The event has power. However, the event is dead. It may not have actually happened like the person thinks it happened. But the event has a representation in the head in various modalities and sub modalities on a sensory level. It may even have anchors and triggers where certain sounds, images, words etc can summon feelings of fear and upset on an automatic level.

    You don’t reframe the event in positive terms. You change how you represent it internally. It’s not a positive or a negative. It’s just something that you’re either seeing and experiencing in massive Technicolor surround sound every time you remember it or else you see it as a black and white film slowly disappearing into the distance.

    You look at how the stuff that is impacting negatively on your life is being represented on an internal level and you change it. But before you change it you notice what gives that representation the power it has. This will give you clues as to how more positive experiences and memories can have similar amounts of power.

    It is possible to go deeper with this and talk about the subjective representation of experiences as they bleed into the identity construct (basically the internal, subjective representation of the self). But combining looking at the subjective representations of memories and experiences with the CBT stuff along the lines of looking at changing the thoughts and exposing the self to the feared situation gives the healing process a bit of a jump start because you’re working on more than one level. The problem is on more than one level.

    I started suffering from mild SA after my accident earlier this year. Case and point: I went out lots of times and proved that I wouldn’t fall over but that didn’t stop me fearing and worrying that I would slip again and feel that same agony for weeks on end that I went through the last time. So, the wider mind came up with social anxiety as a way of protecting me.

    I had problems with self hatred and depression for years. I made the mistake of fighting against and trying to remove my self hatred. Every time I tried to do that- even using hypnosis- I would scream. Because the self hatred was a part of me and removing a part of me was basically psychological self harm. Instead, I talked to my self hatred and we formed an alliance Depression gone too.

    Lots of healing still going on. But it’s been an amazing year. Now, people heal in different ways and they find the right way for them but looking at how things are represented in the wider mind, the memory etc gives us a lot of clues about how best to heal.

    • Hey. So, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around our conversation–and now I have a bit of a headache. At times it seems like we may be talking about the same thing–just using different metaphors–while other times, you seem to be talking about a therapeutic approach much deeper. I’m curious about the types of therapy you’ve been through? Maybe this would help me understand better?

      I keep going back to this quote- “So, if a job requires that you be able to work independently, and you get one of those flashbacks of a time in your life when you “failed” at doing that, look at how you represent that to yourself. Is it funny or is it devastating to recall the event? What are the colours, sounds, feelings involved?”

      I’m doing CBT by myself, but I’m also in talk-therapy, and those questions you posit, sound like they came from my therapist. Whenever we go back to look at trauma, he always asks me about the sounds and visuals and how I felt. I never understood why. I mean, on a rational level I do. But everything happens so much deeper than that. Anyway, I’m going to stop rambling. I hope all is well for you.

  10. I don’t think the work abroad option is a fall-back one. I think it’s a valid option. And a meaningful one at that. For what it’s worth, my after-college ‘profession’ and my degree had little to do with one another. I became a teacher without taking any education courses and then I taught abroad. I think their are people who write it off as just escaping real life, but it was real life to me. I was doing all of the things my ‘real life’ buddies were doing, except I was often 10s of thousands of miles away. I’ll admit I’m a lunatic, but I don’t regret that step in my career life.

    There’s an interesting article I read recently about how to balance doing what you love (which often won’t afford you the life you want) and doing what you need to afford doing what you love. Might prove useful.
    http://www.martynemko.com/articles/do-what-you-love-and-starve_id1380

    • I enjoyed the article–thanks! I have to admit that teaching abroad is something that I’d really like to do, but it wouldn’t be easy for me. Traveling alone to a country and getting thrown into a situation like that isn’t easy. I would hope, at the least, the school would offer some training. I’d also be leaving my g/f behind for an extensive period of time. Anyway, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and I know I can do it–it just won’t be easy.

  11. I don’t know if I have a social anxiety disorder or it I simply do not like to be in social situations; either way, I’m not a fan of large groups where I’m expected to know how to deal with things. I get panicked.

    However, funny enough, I find it easy to travel to new countries, especially solo. The reason why is because I’m surrounded by thousands of people (depending on where I am) but I’m essentially alone. I don’t know the language so I’m not anxious about what people are talking about, I don’t know the people so I’m not worried about getting sucked up in a group. It’s a perfect recipe for feeling safe and isolated (not isolated in a bad way) while around others. It’s hard to describe. I feel most sane and normal and healthy when I’ve just stepped onto new and foreign soil (needs to be a place where no one speaks English) than I do tucked safely away by myself in my bedroom. The problem only occurs after I’ve been in that one place too long.

    No advice re: girlfriend. I’ve never had a suitor long enough for it to matter. But maybe she’d be interested in joining you?

    • I’m the same–traveling solo is not a big deal for me. I’m more concerned about the actual teaching aspect–How will my anxiety handle that? How were you able to hand it?

      As far as my girlfriend, she can’t go as she’s stuck in an internship.

  12. Before I took my very first teaching abroad contract, I informed myself that if things in the brain took a turn for crazy, it was ok to leave. I reminded myself that people quit jobs all the time for any number of reason so being in a foreign country didn’t mean it was any different. If I needed to move on, then I needed to move on. I think being comfortable with that helped alleviate any potential anxiety before the plane touched down in New Land. Also, any time I move (or go somewhere for more than a couple of weeks), I take the same couple of items to use to set up my ‘house’ or whatever space I’m in. For example, some of the items are a collection of photos, a sarong, and a book. These always go in a carry-on bag or purse and before I unpack anything, I take those out and create my “home” space. When I have panic attacks or rage or severe paranoia, I usually feel somewhat better when I return to that ‘home space’.

    I like teaching and it comes natural for me. Still, I was a wreck on the first day. When I got off work after the first day, I planned on roaming around the town but I instead went back to my apartment and curled up under my sarong, read my book and looked at my photos. The next day was better and the day after was better. The only time I couldn’t deal with the anxiety was when I taught teens and adults. I think it was because there was no outlet. If I felt anxious in front of young students, I could release some of it by switching to a more active activity. When they were doing something like group work or something that required moving around the classroom, I felt I had a few moments to myself to get centered. It’s a lot of thinking quickly on your feet and having some fall-back lessons and ideas always available, which does take a bit of time to build up if you’ve never taught.

    I’d always recommend teaching young students for those suffering from the crazies. You’d be surprised how many people with are gainfully and happily employed in the foreign elementary teaching field. It’s not always sunshine and roses. But non-American/Western children are 1,000 times easier to deal with than the stress-inducing brats we have here.

    • That’s great info. I’m currently volunteering at an adult literacy center. I’m working with a single adult, mostly with his writing skills. What other types of things would you recommend I could do to help prepare for something like this, teaching wise?

      I really appreciate all the feedback, by the way! 🙂

      • One way to prepare for teaching is to familiarize yourself with basic teaching philosophies and methodologies, especially those associated with the country you’d be moving to. Most of Asia generally subscribes to an essentialist approach to education, basically meaning the core subjects are rigorously taught via authority and memorization. You may or may not be expected or required to teach in the host country’s method, but I think it’s important to be aware of how your students have been taught to learn. Next, educate yourself on the types of schools you are qualified to teach in. This is just as important as the teaching aspect because private, after-school academies are very different from the run-of-the-mill public or private school. Academies all over the world tend to have much smaller classes and you usually have more specific training. Public and private schools outside of the North America and Europe rarely provide adequate classroom training.
        Finally, steer clear of online message boards related to teaching in the country of your choice. These are often filled with miserable fucks who make loud complaints about everything and can give you negative pre-conceived notions of what to expect. You’ll rarely find positive stories on these forums and, when I read them, I started wondering why the hell anyone would travel to Asia/the middle east/another part of the world to teach if it was so bad. Instead, find personal blogs of people who are there and teaching. They will provide insights into what daily life is like, including in the classroom. I think the outside insights are just as important as those related to teaching because when you are in a foreign country as a working resident rather than a visitor, the daily happenings can impact you just as much as a classroom mishap.

        I haven’t given advice on exactly how to teach and that may be more of what you are asking for. The reason is because I think my advice is unsuitable for you as my recommendation would be to NOT prepare anything more than the first lesson. Each school is different, each classroom in each school is also different, and each teacher is different. The only “lesson” I could recommend preparing for is the one you’ll need the very first day and that’s an introduction lesson. Introduce yourself and use your method of finding out more about the class (are they timid, rambunctious, actual level of content knowledge vs. tested level, etc). If you choose to teach abroad, feel free to email me and I’ll send a very detailed plan for that first day.

        After the first day, it really depends on your style, the school’s requirements, and the classroom. I’m a very fly-by-the-seat type of teacher. Others aren’t. (This is why I’m not very well suited to teach in America where detailed minute-by-minute lessons must be turned in and exactly executed). But again, teaching abroad is a very different thing that teaching in North America and over-preparing for potential lessons can be unnecessary and needlessly stress-inducing.

      • Thanks for all this info! I am going to give this some thought over the next month or so. I need to start applying soon if I want to get in somewhere for next Fall. If I do end up applying, I’ll definitely email you with more questions. 🙂 Thanks again!

  13. That was supposed to be, “You’d be surprised how many people with (insert mental disorder here) are gainfully and happily employeed in the foreign teaching field.”

  14. “Hey. So, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around our conversation–and now I have a bit of a headache. At times it seems like we may be talking about the same thing–just using different metaphors–while other times, you seem to be talking about a therapeutic approach much deeper. I’m curious about the types of therapy you’ve been through? Maybe this would help me understand better?”

    I am talking about a much deeper therapeutic approach. Re-framing the past event would be like looking at a picture of something and changing how you feel about that picture. What I’m talking about is more along the lines of looking at that same picture and seeing what it is about it that makes you feel certain things. And, since you have control over that picture, it’s also about changing the elements that make up that picture and seeing if that changes things.

    As a trainee psychotherapist I am trained and am being trained in a variety of theraputic approaches. But I do tend to work on multiple levels and on deep levels as my own healing process as has been on more than one level.

    “I keep going back to this quote- “So, if a job requires that you be able to work independently, and you get one of those flashbacks of a time in your life when you “failed” at doing that, look at how you represent that to yourself. Is it funny or is it devastating to recall the event? What are the colours, sounds, feelings involved?

    I’m doing CBT by myself, but I’m also in talk-therapy, and those questions you posit, sound like they came from my therapist. Whenever we go back to look at trauma, he always asks me about the sounds and visuals and how I felt. I never understood why. I mean, on a rational level I do. But everything happens so much deeper than that. Anyway, I’m going to stop rambling. I hope all is well for you.”

    The event is dead. The representation you have of a particular event is as it is for particular reasons. The representation can have a lot or little in common with how the event actually happened. You can have a representation of your fourth birthday party and you can have a representation of a trauma. One will quite likely have power than the other. One may have easily been processed whilst one may need attention, love and care and to be learned from before it can be processed.

    And you can see what can happen when these things don’t get processed. They bleed into the identity construct (self image). You see it all the time on the SAS forum. A guy “fails” to talk to a girl he likes and he assumes he’s “just not the sort of person who can talk to girls”. That’s not his identity. That’s experience conditioning and the representation of past events telling him a story about himself which he then accepts as his own story and tells to others.

    Working on this can be quite a powerful process and the person ecology of the person needs to be resepected. One moves at this at one’s own pace.

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