The other day I had some difficulties at the office and it took me a few days to finally work through them.
When I finally did so, I not only felt relief, but I was also grateful.
I was grateful that my work always seems to push me towards more and more personal growth as I grow professionally, negotiating various situations and challenges as they come up day to day.
These two things, professional and personal growth, are intertwined quite intimately, as are personal growth and interpersonal relationships.
In fact, I used to write about something called The Bicycle of Life, where I described the two wheels as the Work Wheel and the Love Wheel, representing professional and relationship growth, respectively.
My theory was, that as we grow (and grow up) in life, the Work and Love Wheels of the Bicycle of Life represent major opportunities in adulthood to learn about ourselves and to get back to who we really are. Our work and our relationships bring us back to ourselves.
So the other day, not only was I glad for the immediate relief of having solved a problem, I was also thankful that I had learned yet another new piece to the puzzle that is me—this time through the challenges on the Work Wheel.
It was at that point that the old Bicycle of Life came back to the forefront of my mind again.
In childhood, we don’t always get the opportunity to learn all that much about ourselves, depending on how closely the adults around us were able to validate our feelings and ask us open-ended questions as we tried to work through difficulties, instead of becoming angry or dismissive with us.
Kids don’t necessarily know how to negotiate difficult or complex situations, thoughts, and emotions, so that the adults around them are the ones who really need to help them work their way through these things. (You can Google “Dr.Ferraioli LVAC Technique” to learn about the LVAC Technique, which I developed for the sole purpose of guiding adults’ behaviors towards helping their kids in this very way.)
Now because the childhood opportunities for accruing self-knowledge and self-awareness were so limited for most of us, I like to think that our work and our relationships (i.e. the Work Wheel and the Love Wheel), represent a sort of ‘second chance’ at finding or re-finding ourselves in adulthood.
So the bottom line is this: You will learn a great deal about yourself through your work and your relationships. This includes how you respond to difficulties and conflict, to changes, to intimacy, to your various impulses, and to commitments. It also includes how you communicate your thoughts and feelings in various situations and during various interactions with others.
You stand to gain an invaluable degree of self-awareness and self-actualization if you look at your life as a series of events and situations which can teach you the intimate details of who you really are.
How closely do YOU observe yourself as you live your life on the Work and Love Wheels of the Bicycle of Life?
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand A Few Things First)
Cobwebs and Ugly Wallpaper