After my last post on this theme I suffered a difficult reversal. A bout of intense hay fever struck me down with the one-two punch of overwhelming headache and severe lethargy. In that state my eating habits tend to suffer, which is a problem because nasty processed carbohydrates are exactly what exacerbate my allergic reactions!
Somehow, though, I fought through the discouragement that goes with these states, looked after myself, and pulled clear of the allergy. I decided to seek out a sales job in earnest. I pursued a few leads aggressively, and within the week I had me a potentially very exciting and lucrative job in sales.
After a week, I quit. Why? I discovered something. You see, a week in this job proved to me that I had totally overcome my fear of attempting the kind of inter-personal imposition that cold telephone sales involves. I discovered I could handle the numbers game of the process, accepting 100 “no thanks” responses for every one “yes please”.
What I found though, is that the company I was working for ran things on a short term, strip mining kind of model. No networking, no relationship building, no attempts at cultivating repeat business. Consequently many of my sales calls failed because of the irritable person on the other end who had been repeatedly pestered by my co-workers in recent weeks.
Furthermore, I quickly discovered that, desperate for the whiff of money, sales people are willing to say all kinds of rubbish. One gentleman (I use the term loosely) in particular would attempt to invoke a battery of racist stereotypes in order to induce fear in his mark as a motivator to buy. After a few days of endless racial slurs wafting through the room I found myself very repelled by a work culture willing to consider such behaviour to be acceptable.
The breakthrough happened on my last day. I figured out “how to do it” that morning, and voila – a slew of sales. That one morning was very lucrative for me personally. And then? I felt the gears shift inside me and I couldn’t do it any more. So I walked out.
What I realised is that there is a difference between fear and aversion. If you fear to do something you are less able to sense how you actually feel about doing the thing you fear. You might feel adverse to it, but that aversion seems like excuse making to justify fear, that is, weakness, and this makes it hard to trust your own feelings.
The other thing I hadn’t expected with a sales job was the boredom. SO boring. Hour after hour of having many almost identical interactions, staring at the same cubicle wall. Seeing as how I recently got my results back from this year’s studies (GPA of 4.0, thanks very much), I felt especially, well, wasted on such a role.
Having conquered my fear and proved I could do the job well, I found a knot of intense aversion. Not necessarily to sales, but to the short-sighted and destructive business model my employer utilised. And so, no longer with anything to prove, I heeded the ethical sense that I could now cleanly hear, and quit.
A couple of days earlier I had met with Donovan and we performed a beautiful blot in honour of Midsummer. All the good stuff that can happen with ritual happened – the environment around us responded to our calls, brilliant poetry came to us both, we chanted and swayed like loonies, and the mead took on that extra-special-delicious flavour that ritual mead sometimes gets.
I invited the “way” to open before me at that ritual, and from the moment I walked out of my sales job it did just that, spreading like a blossoming flower.
Having walked out of my job, I decided to go to the art gallery and take in some of the Hindu devotional statuary there (I like paying my respects to Vishnu and Ganesh).
On the way, I get a call for a job interview.
Next day, I do the interview. It is a very sweet job.
And today I get the news that the job is mine! It doesn’t involve sales or anything like that, but it is interesting, the hours are good, it is close to home, and it is well paid. Perfect!
Lessons about deconditioning:
The most important thing I have learned from this experiment is that even when you consciously construct a plan for doing some deconditioning, you have to be open to the unexpected. A program of conscious deconditioning can confuse you into thinking that your way – your limited understanding of how things “should” unfold – is the way.
I suspect that if one gets too caught up in such a mentality one risks not having the necessary sensitivity for distinguishing between fatuous fear and appropriate aversion. I’ve known people who have bent themselves into ugly shapes by trying to force themselves to fit self-images that run contrary to their true natures.
Having the self-honesty to be able to separate out fear from aversion is a valuable skill and if deconditioning exercises can lead you to blur the distinction, my own experiment shows that they can also help you to refine that distinction.
I have also learned about the importance of being open to the unexpected when deconditioning: witness my growing public-singing habit. This has been the best discovery I have made in the process, and it is reaping all sorts of obvious and non-obvious rewards. I am determined now to maintain this habit and explore it. Curiously, after a day of telesales I found myself unable to sing: a strong message from my unconscious!
So I think I can conclude this deconditioning exercise on a note of cautious triumph (caution being adopted so that I do not devolve into tilting at windmills). This experiment has expanded my idea of what is possible, of what kinds of action and ways of being I can comfortably include within the domain of my personality. It has also given me more trust in my practical commitment to growth and magic, and underscored the value of documenting one’s personal/magical experiments, since these articles have definitely helped refine my focus and bolster my motivation.
We are headed now into 2010: and perhaps onto bigger and better magical evolutionary efforts! Tonight I will make another sacrifice in thanks for my good fortune and my victories.
Tags: Chaos Magic