Mounica Veggalam

Not getting what you want? A 3 step self-inquiry to determine the right action, increase your confidence and influence.

Published over 1 year ago • 5 min read

Conversations For Career Transformation

Mounica Veggalam | 02-03-2024

Read time: 6 mins

Hey Reader!

Last week we talked about how the victim mindset can take over and prevent progress.

Remember that the victim mindset is sneaky.

  • Any waiting for things to get better -> Victim Mindset (“My hard work will pay off soon!”)
  • Any blame on yourself or others -> Victim Mindset (“Why is this person not changing yet!”)
  • Any overwhelm -> Victim Mindset (“Why is my life not changing yet!”)

When deep in it, it’s tough to get out and show that you’re a sorted, influential, and powerful person.

I often get into this victim mindset when things don’t go my way. I can only start feeling a deep, unshakeable confidence when I come out of its clutches. My teacher and coach’s interventions helped me develop a system for myself. Today, I want to talk about this self-inquiry method to get out quickly and back to leadership.

It has 3 steps:

  1. Ownership: What emotions am I feeling?
  2. Responsibility: What is my responsibility in this?
  3. Creation: What tough conversations do I need to have?

It’s not as complex as it sounds. Let’s dive in!

Say you’ve been passed over for a promotion.

You feel crappy. You don’t know what to do next. You don’t want your frustration to come out on your manager (or on your spouse or kids). At the same time, you don’t want to keep meditating on how your childhood instances have contributed to it.

How do you get out and not make life hell for everyone around you?

The key is to go from feeling helpless to making empowered choices

The root of the victim mindset is being in a state of disempowered experience.

We understand this when people do bad things to other people. But I argue that the disempowered experience is not just reserved for those situations. We subject ourselves to a disempowered experience even when we feel victim to ourselves — our habits, our default reactions and our own inability to act towards what we want.

The worst part is that it happens innocently in the most harmless situations.

We make choices from our “should”s because either a)”It’s the way I have always done it” or b) “It’s the way others expect me to do it.” What we really want to do gets obscured by these “should”s. And we’re left with a disempowered experience.

So, how can we return back to empowerment?

It happens at 3 levels.

  1. Validation: When you feel validated that you’re perfectly ok where you are and how you are.
  2. Choice: When you feel powerful, take responsibility for yourself and recognize what you really want.
  3. Action: When you feel the courage to act on that choice despite your resistance.

The inquiry I’m about to suggest is to help you feel empowered at these 3 levels.

And it starts with ownership.

Step 1 - Ownership: What emotions am I feeling?

When there is an emotional charge, it’s hard to think objectively.

But if all you’re aware of is “I’m feeling crappy,” and you can’t name your emotions, you will feel restless for weeks (or months) and not know how to get out. So, you need to get highly aware of what you’re feeling.

Sit with this question What specific thought loops am I stuck in?

Am I dissatisfied with my boss’s vague feedback? Am I angry at them for not recognizing me? Am I guilty about how I reacted to my boss’s vagueness about my promotion? Am I dissatisfied at the job - it’s not what I thought it was? Am I angry at how they treated someone else and I’m afraid they will treat me the same? Am I afraid the current economic condition will not help me get to what I want, when I want it (next position, next stock raise, or my FIRE Goal)? Am I afraid of not being able to meet my family’s needs?

Get specifically aware of your fears, dissatisfied needs, and future projections.

Own it.

“Yes, this is what I’m feeling. And no wonder I’m feeling this way.”

Then let off the steam:

  • Journal
  • Talk to your partner or a close friend
  • Approach a Therapist/Coach

Sometimes we need to be seen, heard, and listened to. The goal is for you to arrive at “I’m ok as I am, no wonder I’m reacting this way, and everything’s ok.” Suddenly, the massive burden of shame disappears.

You can recognize the humanness amidst the chaos.

Step 2 - Responsibility: What is my responsibility in this?

When you think your hopes have been squashed, it’s easy to blame everyone- your manager, your skip manager, the processes at your company, the new director, or your family.

Some high-agency people blame themselves, “I must not be good enough.

Either of these default ways of blame does not serve you. We often reason and justify on these tracks because we don’t want to face the truth of either—

  • how our choices led to the current situation
  • or how acting differently could be highly uncomfortable for everyone.

Only when we acknowledge our past choices and take 100 percent responsibility for our impact on others— we arrive at a place of learning and understanding what we really want.

(A catch here is to distinguish between taking responsibility for our impact on others vs. how others experience us. For example, when you say something that hurts someone, you’re responsible for your words/actions that caused the hurt. But you’re not responsible for that person experiencing you as a hurtful person. The same person could easily dismiss it if the words were coming from a child. Adam Quiney explains it beautifully in his book).

So, redirect your mind to your responsibility.

It could be, “I didn’t seek enough growth feedback here." Or “I didn’t put myself in high-growth situations,” or “I didn’t ask for support.

Step 3 - Creation: What tough conversations do I need to have?

Often, I would say 99% of cases, one conversation is all we need to have to get what we want.

I am guilty of this— I skirt my way around the conversation because the consequences seem scary. It’s edgy. I could cause a big violent reaction. I could be seen as selfish, unempathetic, or arrogant. My mind gets into stories of how I could lose everything that I hold dear.

But these reasons are just that— mental stories.

Get into the discomfort and get clear on what you need to say/do.

Do you need to apologize for the mess you created? Do you need to acknowledge that you’re wrong? Do you need to get vulnerable and say that you want a promotion? Do you need to propose a new way of doing things that your boss will resist? Do you need to cut down on the time you spend on other things? Do you need to change your routine?

When you get clear on your options and are ready to confront the discomfort, you can make a deliberate choice of what you want to do.

You could choose to lean into your fear, or you could decide to let things continue as they are. Either way, when it’s a deliberate choice, it’s an empowering experience. Getting this clarity is very tricky.

The support of a coach, a close friend, or a mentor is invaluable to acting from a place of empowerment.

So to summarize, when you find yourself troubled the next time, sit with these questions:

  1. What emotions am I feeling?
  2. What is my responsibility in this?
  3. What tough conversations do I need to have?

I made a handy flow chart to help you refer to this quickly. Find the full image that you can zoom in on here.

Hope that was helpful. I’d love to hear what’s not clear, what resonated the most, or what you found the most helpful. Hit reply and let me know.

PLUS, whenever you’re ready, here are the ways I can help you:

Mounica Veggalam

Executive Presence and Performance Coach

Hey, there! I talk about non-linear growth strategies and leadership development for tech leaders. Get mindset deep dives to break through into senior leadership roles.

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