Sigmund Freud once stated, “A man with a toothache cannot be in love,” meaning simply that the attention demanded by the toothache doesn’t allow that person to notice anything other than his pain. In working with people going through job change, I often find Freud’s principle to be confirmed. I see grown men who have lost their jobs ignoring their wives, hiding out to avoid seeing their friends, watching too much TV and eating foods that blunt their minds. I see women embarrassed about yet another layoff who then stop going to church, spend money they do not have, read romance novels rather than inspirational material, and snap at their kids when asked an innocent question. The “pain” of the job loss seems to mask the health, vitality and success they have in other life areas.
Yes, a crisis will scream for our undivided attention. However, diverting your focus may in fact be part of the solution. A couple of years ago I worked with a young man who had just lost $3.2 million in a business deal. He was totally in the tank financially and in his career. But rather than focusing on his career crisis I first suggested that he go to the YMCA each morning for 2 hours. His intense focus there initiated the vitality, clarity and inspired thinking that allowed him to quickly spring back to success financially as well.
Going through an unexpected or unwelcome change in your life provides a great opportunity to take a fresh look at your success in other areas. Don’t let other critical components of your life deteriorate as well. Make additional deposits of success in your physical well-being. The energy and creativity that can come from a sharp mind and body can generate the very ideas you need at this time. Organize a pot-luck with a group of your friends – you’ll be surprised how many of them are going through a similar experience and providing one dish will cost you no more than eating your own meal. Pick up a great book to read. If you read only 10 minutes a day you can read a new book a month – and that can transform your insight and preparation for new options. Stay connected spiritually. You’ll realize that in the scope of eternity, this event is probably a tiny spot on the timeline.
What is the toothache in your life that is demanding your undivided attention? How can you continue being “successful” in other areas of your life anyway?