How Do I Deal with a Stressful Job Situation?

Posted on by Sen.

Working on laptop

Reader’s Question: I am stuck in a stressful job which drains me each day, I can’t leave the job because of financial reasons, how can I find peace in the midst of it?

Though the question is specifically about a stressful job situation, it’s applicable to any unpleasant situation in our life which we need to deal with on regular, or daily, basis owing to its presence in our reality. A very direct answer would be to make the choice to leave a situation that drains you on a daily basis, it’s like how you stop eating food that you know is constantly triggering an allergy in you – it seems blatantly illogical to continue torturing yourself by eating a food item that consistently triggers a bout of allergy. In fact, as you grow in awareness (through the practice of relaxed awareness, or state of allowing, or any other practice that you may be working on) you are likely to be even more keenly cognizant of anything that feels mis-aligned with you – this is because, during the practice of developing awareness your mind also inculcates the tendency to be more aware/observant, you no longer live on the surface rather you are more in touch with everything that’s happening inside you in the realm of emotions, thoughts and physical energy.

However, just because you’ve developed higher awareness, in your mind, doesn’t mean that you’ve also developed self-assurance, or a trust in life’s intelligence, or courage, or authenticity, automatically – it’s not a given, it’s not a package-deal. It takes a level of courage, and self-assurance, to make a choice towards letting go of what feel mis-aligned with you. A mind that lacks self-assurance can continue to feel insecure even after developing a higher level of awareness. At this point it’s useful to clarify what I mean by higher awareness in the mind and how it’s different from connecting with your source awareness (or what I call the ”source being” aspect or “being-part” of who you are).

Mind’s awareness

The mind can grow in awareness through several practices, including mindfulness which essentially is all about being alert to the present moment, being in touch with your emotional energy, thoughts, physical energy, surroundings, inner and external movements. In fact “relaxed awareness”, which I talk about, is not very different from the practice of mindfulness except that it includes the pointer of letting of the “doing”, without trying to dictate your attention, let the attention move around while staying as an open awareness, not trying to control anything – this allows for awareness to grow organically instead of the brain-centric technique of focus. However, this awareness is still a mind-based awareness as the mind is actively observing all that’s arising.

Being’s awareness

The awareness that’s present in your “being” doesn’t need to be developed through practice, it’s just there – in fact the other name that’s commonly used for the “being” is also “pure consciousness”. The being-part of who you are has a quality of unbiased awareness, there is no judgement or distinction in this awareness. It’s as open to an unpleasant situation as it is to a pleasant situation. The being-part of who you are is always present, your mind can switch off/on depending upon it’s wakefulness. So, to get a sense of who you are as the “being” is called self-discovery, or even enlightenment, in most spiritual circles – this is what Buddha found, this what Mahavir discovered, this is what Ramana Maharishi realized, and this what any of you can find quite easily if you let of go of all the aggrandized notions about it. To discover the being-part of who you are is easy, if you can just recognize the part of you that’s “still” in the midst of all the mental/emotional movements – that’s the being-part; what’s difficult is to reside as the “being”, to move your center from your mind towards your being, to move from the core of your being rather than being stuck to a mental/emotional movement.

Hopefully, the above summary gives you some understanding of what I mean by mind-awareness and being-awareness (or the being-part of who you are), as I would need to reference it further while answering this question.

You can use your mind’s awareness or your being-awareness, or a combination of both, to address any situation in your life. You will find a lot of writings that address finding solutions through mind’s awareness, mental-positions and maturity – anything that deals with using your mind, in a better manner, to address situations in your life is taking the approach of using mind’s awareness. You will also find a lot of teachings on connecting with your “being” and using the being-awareness to handle the situations in your life, where the mind is moved to the background. I’ve worked on both approaches, and at this point, based on my experience, I would recommend the use of both, simply because it seems to be a more integrated approach towards a growth in your mind/soul along with the stability brought in by the connection with your being. It may not seem easy to combine both the approaches as it involves being dynamic enough to move your center between being-awareness and mind-awareness, but in the end this feels more natural, it allows for more experiences, it’s more enjoyable in terms of working with your ”polarized” life-energy in midst of the “non-polarized” being – the contradiction between the mind and being, along with the support that the being can bring to the mind, makes it more enriching as a journey.

For example, for this specific question of how to deal with a stressful job situation, you can find a solution through a combination of mind-awareness and being-awareness by addressing it from both these dimensions.

Your being-awareness is like an “open space”, it doesn’t hold on to any positions, it doesn’t have a bias or judgement towards any situation, it’s the part of you that’s at peace irrespective of the movements around it. It’s not an imagined/imposed mind-state, it’s a very real presence in you – it’s a reality that doesn’t need to be constructed, it’s just there. When you connect with the being-awareness, or rather the being-part in you, you will sense an openness towards letting the situation “be” to start with – the being-part of you is observant without judgement, it’s aware of the presence of the situation but it’s not pushing away. This does not mean that it’s a “static”, or neutral state, rather there is also an intelligence at play here which can bring forth a solution – in other words the being-part of who you are is not just static space of awareness, it’s also a dynamic intelligence, though its intelligence functions in a very non-linear manner than the mind-based intelligence which depends on aspects like memory, conditioning, future projections, inhibitions, doubts, rationale etc.

If you allow yourself to function from the “being-part”, in the midst of your stressful job situation, there will be a sense of inner peace in the middle of the mind’s stress, body’s irritation, anxiety and emotional distress. The mind would still be occupied with the stress, but you will get a sense that the being-part of you is not disturbed by the situation, either the technical difficulties or the personal difficulties of triggered by the situation – in fact, all the unpleasantness would feel like the waves on the surface of a deep ocean, they tend to keep arising and subsiding, they don’t stick around in the space of your being. So, in a way, you experience freedom in the midst of your mental agony. It feels peaceful but you may not be able to sustain this connection as your center keeps moving into the pull of mind’s movement (of irritation, anxiety, stress and dead-line driven action). Whenever you connect with the being-part there is sense of peace but there is also an opportunity to imbue an intelligence that’s deeper than your mind. However, the intelligence brought forth by the state of being still needs the co-operation of your mind/physical-body, in many cases, to actualize a solution – the nature of the being-intelligence is that it’s not forceful and hence your mind has the capacity to override it easily through its force.

This is the reason why, in spiritual circles, there is a lot of importance placed upon letting go of the mind centric position – because it’s difficult for the being-part of you to really bring forth it’s intelligence into your life-situation in the presence of a forceful mind. However, letting go of the mind is mostly an extreme position, it can cause a lot of confusion, severe anxiety, a sense of acute depression or meaninglessness, or even a position of absolute passiveness in some cases. The mind wants to be around, it doesn’t want to be let go of, it doesn’t want to be in the background, it doesn’t want to die – so it’s a lot easier, and conducive, to work with the mind and develop qualities in your mind that’s co-operative with the intelligence/wisdom of your being.

Again, coming back to the original question, from the place of being-awareness you will have the ability to “deal” with a situation from the ground of openness (or allowing) without it severely obstructing your sense of peace or stability. But, this state of being-awareness, will also cause intelligence to sprout within you along with a movement of intelligence in your reality, which may need the co-operation of your mind and physical-body, towards finding a solution to the situation. Your mind will continue to desire for a solution, because every mind/soul desires freedom inherently and doesn’t want to feel shackled, and the being-part of you can manifest this solution through its intelligence but it would need the co-operation of your mind towards actualizing it – in other words, a change in mental-position could well be the most important ingredient of the solution that’s being brought forth. If you hold on to the lack-based thinking, as your mental position, it would be difficult for you to ever align yourself with the solution being instigated from the intelligence of your “being” – qualities like courage, self-assurance, trust in life, staying true to yourself, backing your strengths and knowing your limitations (mental/physical), staying true to your heart (desire) or joy, being tolerant towards others, being patient when needed, honoring the freedom of others as much as yours, are all various mental-positions that can allow for the intelligence of your being to bring forth a solution – without developing these mental-qualities, you can connect with your being but you won’t be able to actualize the intelligence of your being.

It’s easier to just a give simplistic answer, but each situation has many facets to it, it’s present owing to multiple reasons, both collective and personal, and in the end one has to develop an inner state that’s conducive towards a wholistic solution, which allows for the experience of a reality that feels good to you without it creating undue suffering, or imbalance, towards outside. In the end, you are part of the whole, or rather you are one entity in this reality of several entities, you are one aspect of creation in the midst of this huge spectrum of creation. The being-part of who you are functions from the “whole”, it’s the source of all creation, whereas the mind-part of who you are functions from the “individual” boundary – when you integrate the being and the mind, by connecting with your being and developing mind-qualities that are conducive towards applying the intelligence of your being, the journey starts feeling more enjoyable, peaceful and wholesome.

It’s possible that the stressful job-situation (or any “unpleasant” situation) is around to help you develop qualities of patience, humility, responsibility, discipline and tolerance, or it’s around to help you develop qualities of courage, self-assurance, ability to stand up for yourself, connecting with your truth, ability to let go of what is not aligned with you, along with the most fundamental movement towards connecting with the “being-part” in you – in other words, it around to because you need to develop qualities in your mind while discovering/connecting with the being-part in you. When you understand this dynamic, you see every unpleasant situation as call towards a growth either in your mind-awareness/mental-position or connection towards your being-part – it’s a personal journey, of growth, experience and expression, and it’s always going to involve both these facets. As you continue strike this balance between developing your mind, along with developing a connection with your being-part, you reach a zone where you no longer feel unequipped to deal with life and its challenges, rather you see it as an enriching journey of experience, expression and growth.

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  1. G

    Very happy that you are posting new articles again Sen. I have been following your blog for around 5 years now, and have found it tremendously helpful so far in my internal development process.

    If I could ask one question, it would be this:
    I feel my attachment to my ego strongly diminish now, and there is a sense of being just space, but there is a lot of emotions and physical resistances still present in my body.
    Why is it taking so long for the emotional stuff to leave, even though I have been working with awareness for multiple years now? And is there anything specific that has to be done to release physically stored emotions and tensions?

    I have great appreciation for you and your work!
    Thanks a lot

    1. P_SPACE

      I think every time we are concerned about releasing then all those times we remain locked in our heads. Maybe we need to free ourselves from the idea of releasing which is ‘thought about it’ + ‘some planned action or posture’ instead learn to be and flow without even having the idea of releasing. Initially, we might feel some assurance thinking we can sit and release everything but that itself becomes a way to remain closed. But if we reflect we are being bullied by the thought of ‘I have to release’–and it, therefore, becomes a way to be locked in the head again which is what we wanted to gain freedom from in the first place. It becomes merely another self-centered activity–an activity to stay in the head again (?) Just my thoughts.

    2. Clark

      Sen speaks of the progression from efforted awareness (Tolle’s inner body meditation etc.) to relaxed awareness (Adyashanti’s true meditation). Have you progressed in the recommended way? (4 – 12 months of Tolle, then switch to Adya).

    3. T

      i find myself in the same place, I have been working on the release for around 4/5 years, and although my life changed in some unprecedented ways in most areas in my life, I still notice that I have a strong momentum in my mind (rapid thoughts rushing through my mind most of the time), I have several fears that don’t let me jump into actions sometimes, I have manifested a financial situation that was great, but it gradually started to leave me, and I cannot find the energy to study and find a normal work. I don’t know how to proceed because I know I have a lot of talents but im not able to channel them into a livelihood.

      I feel good to have my awareness and the capacity to dis identify from thoughts, but I feel more confused than ever in my life.

      i don’t know if I have to take on the attitude of being a deliberate creator, or continue to release the emotions and thoughts that are instigated by the situation (while also looking for limiting beliefs that are mirrored in that situation, which is why I attracted it)

  2. P_SPACE

    Can the mind be supportive for “being” oriented through its imagination? For example, I might be in a difficulty but if I hold the imagination of an actor playing such a role of going through such difficulty then straightaway there is space from being locked in the role and also some “freeness” to go through such difficulty. The automatic tendency is to use the mind for doubts (or script everything that might happen in advance) and add more stress to the situation we are in and not to hold an imagination that supports “being” oriented risk.

    Even a real actor might have to let go (or not be locked in it) of his personal mind fictions to freely play a role.

    Just sharing my doubts 🙂

  3. Aoife

    Sen, thank you so much for answering this question. I find myself in a similar situation and your answer makes so much sense. So lovely to see you writing articles again

  4. Clark

    I like the balanced take between mike and being. I wonder if you still have the same recommendations when it comes to mind development as before – 7 habits of highly effective people – as per this blog post of yours

    1. jay

      Thank you so much for the comment and link.
      I’m working towards return of focus and the book the now habit was really helpful to me at this point of time.
      Thanks Clark and sen 🙂

  5. Ahmad khan

    Thank you so much Sen GOD bless you 💞💞

  6. Joanna

    Out of nowhere tonight I had the sudden impulse to visit calmdownmind after many years. It’s absolutely wonderful to see you posting again Sen! Thank you for the insights!

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