Unconscious beliefs are ideas we hold true, but that we don’t consciously think about. We live our lives and make decisions based on these unconscious assumptions without even realizing that we are doing so.
There are three unconscious beliefs that are particularly common in HSPs who are thinking about changing careers or who are already in career transition. I’ve seen quite a few HSP career coaching clients stay stuck and unable to move forward until one or even all three of these beliefs were brought to conscious awareness and addressed. These are by all means not the only beliefs that hold people back, but these three come up so often that I thought it might be useful to highlight them in this article.
3 UNCONSCIOUS BELIEFS THAT KEEP HSPS STUCK IN THEIR CAREERS
#1 THERE MUST BE A PERFECT OPTION THAT I JUST HAVEN’T THOUGHT OF YET
Many HSPs (including yours truly 😉 ) have a tendency toward perfectionism. We usually think of perfectionism as something that shows up when you are doing something concrete like completing a work project or cleaning your house. But perfectionism can also show up when you are making decisions – like trying to choose a new direction for your career.
Perfectionism is always rooted in fear. Perfectionist career changers get stuck because they are afraid of making “the wrong decision” and having to experience the pain associated with “the wrong decision”. So they keep looking for the perfect career option with no negatives. “If I just keep looking, I’ll find the perfect option!”
Unfortunately, this unconscious belief leads to a lot of time wasted waiting for something that doesn’t exist. There are no perfect career options. Each option is going to come with advantages and disadvantages, pluses and minuses. So instead of looking for the perfect option that doesn’t exist, you might as well compare the imperfect options you do have to a) your current situation and b) to each other. And then ask yourself “Which option has the best mix of pluses and minuses?” Or an even better question to ask might be “Which option is so exciting that it makes dealing with the negatives worth it?”
And speaking of dealing with the negatives…
#2 I WILL ALWAYS FEEL AS DEPLETED AS I DO TODAY
Many HSPs seek to change their careers, not simply because they’ve lost the passion for their current job, but because they have been completely depleted by it. By the time they realize that change is needed, they’ve often spent a considerable amount of time – usually counted in years – doubting themselves about whether things really are as bad as they seem, then trying to make the best of it, and then all out struggling until finally reaching burnout.
When jolted into action by the burnout, these HSPs muster up whatever bits of energy they can to start considering career alternatives. But they very quickly find themselves feeling stuck again, because none of the alternatives sound doable.
And the reason that none of the options sound doable is because not much actually is doable when you are exhausted and burned out. Considering options from a burned out perspective is a dead end, because exhausted and burned out people don’t need new challenges and growth opportunities. They need rest. Chronically stressed out HSPs may have been in that state for so long that they don’t even remember what it’s like when you are feeling well-rested, calm, and confident. Maybe they’ve never felt it.
So how do you move forward from this? Well, it depends on personal circumstances. Some HSPs are able to get the rest they need or at least get enough of it to get a glimpse of what their interests and priorities are when they are feeling better. Others need to use their imagination. In order to get excited about a new career and take steps toward it, you need to be able to imagine what it would be like if you were at your full capacity. What obstacles were easier to climb when you weren’t so tired? What did you used to enjoy?
#3 I NEED 100 percent CERTAINTY IN ORDER TO MAKE A CHANGE
Our brains have evolved with one high priority goal in mind: to keep us safe and alive. Highly sensitive brains tend to take this goal particularly seriously. HSPs have a gift for carefully thinking things through from all possible angles and for anticipating and detecting potential problems.
One thing our brains consider to be a major threat is uncertainty. Even if we are not completely satisfied, we are safe and alive at the moment, so should we really be rocking that boat? This line of (unconscious) reasoning keeps many HSPs spinning their wheels, searching for 100 percent certainty that things will work out before they can move forward with change.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with anticipating obstacles and coming up with plans to address them. But looking for 100 percent certainty is another time wastey strategy, because whether our brains like it or not, nothing in this life is ever certain. Every path you choose (including the familiar one you are currently on) is going to present you with unexpected bumps in the road.
So instead of looking for 100 percent certainty, it might be more fruitful to remember how you have gotten over unexpected bumps in the past and how you can continue to build your capacity to do so in the future.
Most HSPs I have met are incredibly creative and resourceful. I see HSPs overcome challenges on a daily basis, so I know for a fact the capacity is there. 🙂