This might seem more like a self-help approach to work culture, but it’s one of the most beneficial practices one can do: I call it cleanslating.
We all want clear consciences in life. Most toxic toxic thoughts and behavior spring from a heavy conscience, and I argue that the ability to go into work every day knowing that everything is right on your side of the street–morally, financially, and performance-wise–is the most important aspect of a good, hard, honest worker.
But what about when other people cause us grief? Or heartache? Or anger? Or fear? …We begin to resent other people, places, and institutions who cause us such emotions. That’s called resentment.
If you’ve ever gone through your morning worry-free, without a care in the world, and suddenly had a thought hit you out of nowhere that brings you down…that’s normal. Happens to everyone. It’s caused by resentment. These resentments offend our day-to-day lives by taking us out of the here-and-now in favor of the past or future. Fear not, though: there’s a solution to resentments…an antidote, if you will. I call it cleanslating.
Here’s how it works. And I admit that I’m taking this directly from the Tenth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous because it can benefit everyone, not just alcoholics:
Turn a blank sheet of paper into landscape layout and make yourself five vertical columns. At the top of the far-left column, write “I’m resentful at.” Over the second column, write “Cause/Reason.” Third: “Affected my.” Fourth: “Fears associated.” Fifth: “My part.”
Now that you’ve got your start, just start writing, one row at a time. You will find yourself writing something similar to this example: “I’m resentful at John in Finance because he makes snide remarks behind my back, which affects my ego, self-esteem, and trust in co-workers; I’m fearful of other people’s thoughts of me and that others will buy in to John’s gossip; my part in this is that I let it affect me and that I haven’t taken the time to address him regarding my resentment.”
Do that over and over again for every resentment you have. Are you resentful at your boss? Write his name down. Towards the IRS? Write that down. Your child’s daycare? Write it down…and most importantly, complete the associated four columns to get to the causes and conditions of your resentment. No resentment is “too small” to write about. It all adds up.
The ability to be able to see you, on paper, what is on your mind…and what is bothering you…is extremely valuable. Very underrated. It can turn the most macrocosmic catastrophes into a simple, concise, and sometimes even laughable reality.
To take cleanslating one step further, I recommend calling a close friend and telling him or her about each resentment; this is the epitome of getting something “off your chest.” In fact, one could certainly say that it gets it off your heart and mind so that you can pursue what really makes you happy in life: productivity, joy, and a clear conscience. I try to use cleanslating daily, but sometimes it only happens weekly or monthly. The ability to break down the chaotic mind, column by column, resentment by resentment, is extremely beneficial and highly underrated. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.