October 16, 2010

Work and Resentment, or How to Manifest a Million Dollars

Most people feel some degree of resentment about the work they have to do. This is an emotional pattern that not only affects the way people approach work, but also their approach to money, to-do lists, and clutter.

How to Manifest a Million Dollars

Manifesting can be a powerful concept, but when you present it to people, it becomes a caricature almost immediately. In the United States, ask people what they would like to manifest, and the most common answer, almost a consensus, is “I want to manifest a million dollars.”

There is a hidden problem embedded in this formulation. The problem becomes obvious as soon as you replace the word “manifest” with its synonym, “make.” Then you’re saying, “I want to make a million dollars.” You immediately remember that there are hundreds of well-known ways to make a million dollars. If you haven’t done any of them, the reason is that they require work. When people say, “I want to manifest a million dollars,” what they’re really saying is, “I want to make a million dollars, but I don’t want to have to work.” The greater challenge in this in not the million dollars, but the part about not working.

Not working means a deprivation of working, or a lack of work, and manifesting techniques, at least the ones that people hear about, won’t create deprivation. Use them one way, and they’ll create work for you to do. Use them another way, and they won’t create work for you to do. But there isn’t a way to apply the manifesting techniques to create an absence of work.

Apply the manifesting techniques well, with a high degree of skill, and they’ll present lots of ways for you to make a million dollars. If you’re stuck trying to manifest a million dollars, it’s likely because you’re overlooking these results, not even noticing them, simply because of the amount of work that they require. It might even be effortless work, but if you have to do a particular thing for people to give you money, then it’s going to look like work, and it’s going to bring up whatever emotional resistance you have on the subject of work.

Resistance and Resentment

Resistance doesn’t mean avoiding something. The people who resist work the most end up working the hardest, which of course, makes them resist work even more. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken by changing the emotions that keep the cycle going.

Resistance is an easy subject to examine because it’s one of the staples of pop psychology. Wayne Dyer’s first bestselling book, Your Erroneous Zones, examined resistance with the questions:

  1. What is your pattern of inaction, or failure to take action where it is needed?
  2. What are the neurotic payoffs you get as a result of your pattern of inaction?
  3. What thoughts do you have that lead to the payoffs?
  4. What thoughts could you use instead?

Applying the first question in the list to the issue at hand, there are several patterns that come up, which may involve doubt, fear, fatigue, confusion, and other emotions. The overwhelming emotion connected to work, though, the one that everyone seems to have at some point, is resentment. It’s the emotion related to why me thoughts: Why do I have to work all the time? Why do people expect so much from me? Why do people hold my work to such high standards? Why do I always have to clean up after other people’s mistakes?

You may have three to five automatic thoughts along these lines that get repeated every day, whenever you’re working on anything. Listen for them echoing around your head whenever work gets unreasonably difficult — or do so right now as you imagine how much work it would take for you to make a million dollars, or whatever financial benchmark you imagine for yourself. For example, if you are selling pies for $18 each, you can make one million dollars (in revenue) by making and selling 55,555 pies. Or, if you are a writer getting paid 4¢ a word, you can make one million dollars by writing 25 million words. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of work? What do you think? As you think about these work scenarios, or any other money-manifesting scenario you care to imagine, can you hear any familiar, automatic thoughts?

Using the pop-psychology version of psychoanalysis, it’s easy to imagine how this pattern of resenting work could have been created. It’s virtually guaranteed that at some point early in your life or career, when you were 5, 10, 15, or 20 years old, someone gave you a difficult or even impossible task to do just to get rid of you for a few hours. When I was young, I remember being sent to clean a piano without any tools, supplies, or techniques. There was no feather duster or furniture polish or anything else that would have served to remove the dust from the ornate scrollwork and other crevices that were part of the design of this particular piano. I worked on the piano with everything I could think of, and I did take away most of the dust, but when I gave up in frustration after two hours, the piano was still covered in dust. Of course, no one seriously expected me to get the dust off of the piano. They gave me that task on that particular day because they knew it was something I wouldn’t be able to do.

Everyone has had experiences along these lines. It’s rational to feel resentment under these circumstances. It’s not rational, and not constructive, to take an experience like that and apply it to all the work that comes your way. But it’s natural enough to do exactly that.

Erasing Resentment

Once you identify the automatic thoughts that create the emotion of resentment around work (or any other subject), it is easy enough to answer them or replace them with rational thoughts. You can choose thoughts that redirect your emotions and energies in a more productive direction, one that doesn’t create so much resistance. These more constructive thoughts might include:

Work is taking action, and taking action is the purpose of life. People expect a lot from me because they can see I have it in me. The world is lucky to have my skills and energy available, because there are problems I can solve that most people can’t. Taking action, in the form of work, is an opportunity for me to express my true nature. I may be remembered for the work I did, but no one will remember the work I didn’t do. It’s only natural if people appreciate what I do and want to give me money.

Just thinking different thoughts such as these for a minute can create a noticeable change in the way you feel about work. If you condition these thoughts over a period of at least five days, using conditioning techniques, you can change your whole attitude about work.

That’s not to say that this will happen quickly or automatically. I’ve presented this problem and solution in a quick, superficial way, without covering the specific techniques that may be required. If you are familiar with the techniques for changing your patterns of thinking, you can go ahead and apply those techniques to this subject. If not, there are a wide range of techniques that you can discover, for example, in the self-improvement section of any bookstore.

After you take away the resentment surrounding work, you are likely to discover other emotions, such as fear and doubt, that hold you back and keep you from doing the work that would move your life forward. You may also simply have bad habits. Perhaps you try to work at a pace that is physically too fast for you, then get fatigued, and in a state a fatigue, make poor decisions. Whatever the pattern is, you can discover it and address it in a similar way.

Resistance Is Not Laziness or Procrastination

Many people think resistance is a sign or aspect of laziness or procrastination, but in fact, the common forms of emotional resistance are not related to laziness or procrastination. Everyone is lazy sometimes and procrastinates sometimes, but as life problems, laziness and procrastination are really quite rare. If you find some tasks easy to do, but other tasks that require a similar scale of physical effort are hard, that is nothing to do with laziness. Laziness is not selective in this manner. When you are lazy, everything that involves getting up and moving seems about equally hard. On the other hand, if you chronically have trouble getting enough work done to keep your life moving, you can’t just dismiss that as laziness. You have to find out what the real issue is.

Similarly, it’s common to come upon something you want to do and put it off till later in the day, or till tomorrow. That might very well reflect a pattern of procrastination. But if there are many things you want to do that you have been putting off not for a day or two, but for weeks, that is not merely procrastination, and again, you have to find out what the real issue is so you can address it. Often, the real issue is a form of resistance. If the subject is work, then there is good chance that the real issue involves resentment, rather than laziness or procrastination.

The Resistance in To-Do Lists and Clutter

Part of the reason people have to-do lists is because of the emotional resistance to work. Part of the way this works is obvious: people write tasks on to-do lists instead of taking action immediately. Later, people leave tasks on the to-do list instead of completing them, and to-do lists grow longer. Similarly, stuff piles up because you are resisting the work you planned to do with it. You can end up with a long to-do list and cluttered material surroundings. The clutter and to-do list can then embody your resentment about work, so that you are literally surrounded by your resentment in physical form. This part of the pattern is not so easy to discover and overcome.

The book Fear of Nothing provides a series of actions to overcome the clutter and to-do list, but as you apply that approach, you may find that the same resentment that created the to-do list and clutter also slows you down when you go to clean them up. It’s just your own to-do list and your own clutter, which you created out of your own decisions, but you find that you face the same general resentment of work when you confront the effort that will be required to get your stuff in order.

This is especially likely if you have just been through a full day of work that you already resented. You spend eight hours or longer correcting other people’s problems that they shouldn’t have created in the first place, then maybe you make supper for people who don’t appreciate it because they’re wrapped up in their own problems, and you walk the dog even though it wasn’t your idea to have a dog, and now it’s 10:30 and you have one hour you can do something with before you have to go to bed. Whether you will seize the moment and move your life forward or waste away the hour on trivialities depends a great deal on the emotions you bring in that moment.

The primary emotion that creates clutter and to-do lists is not resentment, but fear, as I describe in the early chapters of Fear of Nothing. You can address the fear by addressing the clutter. However, if resentment is also an obstacle, you may find that you make faster progress after addressing the resentment surrounding work, even if you can shift it in only a small way at first. If you can just shift the pattern of thoughts and feelings you experience at 10:30 p.m. from I shouldn’t have to do all this work to I shouldn’t have to do all this work, but this is my moment, my chance to do something for myself, there is a much better chance that you’ll use that hour constructively. One hour may not seem like much, but one hour a day is more time than most people give themselves, and it is enough time to turn the circumstances of your life upside down in less than a year.

Associations Between Money and Work

I need to circle back to the challenge of manifesting a million dollars, because there is another psychological trick, or obstacle, involved in that. In studies, people associate money with work so strongly that as soon as they are being paid, what they are doing becomes “work.” Then they enjoy it less, put in less effort, and produce smaller results. As long as this is your pattern, there is nothing you can do to “manifest” a million dollars. You will start to resist any activity that brings in money long before the millionth dollar comes in, regardless of how easy and effortless the activity actually is. Therefore, before you can attempt to manifest a million dollars, or any form of financial prosperity that involves money, you may need to change your ideas about money and work.

One common association between money and work is the thought When I am paid for my work, I make sure I put in the minimum effort necessary to get by. You might change this to Whatever I am doing, I do it in the way that provides the strongest expression of who I am and what I can do. You might also adopt thoughts along these lines: Being paid for something is a sign that I am doing it well, not a sign that I have to start worrying about how well I am doing. I do the things I do because they are things I do well, and the money follows naturally. I don’t need to minimize my efforts so that I can conserve my energy all day long — instead, I want to use my energy in the best ways I can find over the course of the day, so that I get all the physical exercise I need, and when I go to bed, I am tired from the day’s activities, and I fall asleep easily and sleep well.

Whatever you want to accomplish, if you have this pattern of resentment and emotional resistance to work, it will slow you down. This is an emotional pattern that is easy to develop and hard to avoid, but if you become aware of it, you can address it and change it. Then, work is easier to do, and it becomes something you can enjoy. You can experience whatever work you decide to do as going smoothly and easily, without that resistance to slow you down.

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