At Butler Towers, the last few months have been dominated by somewhat of a saga with dental pain. A significant event within the saga was a wisdom tooth extraction, which is not something I would wish to repeat in a hurry. In the painkiller-induced stupor afterwards my mind started wandering to how my errant tooth was an interesting metaphor for a pattern of behaviour most of us follow.
My tooth harboured an infection – something that slowly and perniciously was causing me harm. The obvious solution was to remove the tooth, which I didn’t need in any way, and remove the source of the harm. Yet my body was firmly attached to the tooth, and really didn’t give it up without a struggle. The tooth had no use, was actually harming me, but my body couldn’t let it go.
Sound familiar? Are there things in your work or personal life that serve no purpose and/or cause you harm, but that you won’t let it go? How much pain is that causing? What sort of harmful things do we hold onto?
Harmful relationships: many of us hold onto harmful relationships longer than we should or could. These could be with staff, clients, suppliers or people in our personal life. Which harmful relationships could you let go?
Harmful habits: similarly, we’re prone to hold onto harmful habits – distractions such as social media, insufficient sleep, consuming to excess toxins such as alcohol or caffeine, or even just holding on to tasks that others in the business could be doing. Which harmful habits could you let go?
Harmful things: we are also able to hold on to way too much stuff. What is cluttering your world – whether it be physical items in your home or office that cloud your personal space or products or services that make your offering to customers confused? Which harmful things could you let go?
As I negotiated my wisdom tooth “journey” I noted a handful of steps – which you could adapt to help you let go of some of the things identified above:
- Recognise the harm – I easily spotted my toothache, but are you fully aware of the harm some relationships, habits or things are causing you?
- Treat the issue, if that is possible – I tried two courses of antibiotics before conceding that the tooth really had to go. How can you address the harm you are facing, without resorting to removal?
- Use a pro – I turned to my trusted dentist, whereas you might want to turn to an HR adviser, a business coach (ahem, I can recommend one…) or an employment lawyer to deal with your harm.
- Anaesthetise – twice we tried stuff on the tooth without adequate pain relief, and twice I whimpered. What work can you do to protect yourself from unnecessary pain in the process?
- Give it a good hard yank, and keep going until your done – my dentist needed a lie down by the time my tooth was out. Make sure you show similar determination to see through the unpleasantness and allow for recovery.
- Medicate afterwards – I needed more painkillers and antibiotics for some time after the extraction and you, your colleagues, your clients will need tender loving care until the wounds are healed.
Please, just remember that the pain now is much less than the pain if left untreated. Let it go.
I hope you can identify some things that are harmful but that you are still holding on to, and you find a way to let them go. If you need further inspiration, there is always Princess Elsa:
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
Which reminds me of another tooth extraction when I was a child…