Working Through Intellectual Loss

When effort, skill & execution don’t bring the results you thought they should

Photo by Amin Moshrefi on Unsplash

“The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.” ― Gabor Maté

Loss, grief and recovery are talked about quite often in recent times. The accuracy of more instruction and prompting to look beyond death as the only type of loss worth grieving has been paramount to the healing and reparation of souls over the past few years. The experience of loss happens across a myriad of lifestyles, a variety of locations, and most certainly, in the world of work. We are growing in our collective knowledge about what qualifies as something that causes grief. Adults have feelings of loss in common areas of life: when a parent of theirs’ remarries, in situations of lost income, and even in successful weight loss journeys people can identify as having grief. Individually, changes in emotions and the dependency on certain types of coping mechanisms begin to shift. In light of recent events occurring in my nook of the world, I want to acknowledge what happens when creatives, solo-preneurs and multi-hyphenates experience intellectual loss.

…but we also can find ourselves “taking an L” in micro-doses.

For clarification, I am not using the phrase intellectual loss to describe when someone plagiarizes your work, or adopts and presents your idea as their original thoughts. That type of IP theft is ramping up more and more as people strive to build content rapidly across platforms and utilize products that take written work and convert it to video. However, what I am trying to target is the short term endeavor or project that doesn’t materialize the way you thought it would and the accompanying feelings of loss one can encounter. Sure, large projects that you have poured your money, heart and soul into for months and years carry a significant amount of despondency, but we may also find ourselves “taking an L” in micro-doses. How were the stats on the 25th time you checked your newly published article? Did your latest ad start ticking yet? How many hits to your landing page did you get? Those add up.


Before you get back on the proverbial horse

Don’t take your next disappointment for granted and don’t take it lightly. Each one triggers a physiological response inside your brain and establishes the highway your future thoughts will travel on. Newly minted solo entrepreneurs are among the rising numbers of people experiencing self reported depression, discouragement and feelings of desperation. Here are a few suggestions for you to look over and consider creating a process for yourself as you work to establish stronger and more personalized bounce back plans of action.

I came across an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website under the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology called Vicarious Goal Satiation by McCulloch, Fitzsimons, Chua and Albarracin. Their research feels like standing next to a best friend who is tactless and outspoken, but inarguably stating what you wish you had the nerve to say.

Stop looking for inspiration outside of yourself!

McCulloch, Fitzsimons, Chua and Albarracin presented that once a person has witnessed a goal as complete, they reach a point of satisfaction and any need to self regulate for continued pursuit toward that goal is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, this completed goal doesn’t have to be done by you. In other words, by vicariously scrolling, reading and watching influencers, you are robbing yourself of the actionable opportunity you have for yourself.

Therefore, at the top of my list of how I am bouncing back after not receiving the writing challenge grand prize, I am placing the do not live vicariously sign on my WFH office door.

1. Do not live vicariously.

2. Seek out face to face support from people who care about you.

3. Support yourself emotionally by taking care physically.

4. Journal or process what happened with the project and any feelings about what could have or should have happened.

5. Use the processing to launch your next decision or to restart the same goal.

“I dare you … Visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear — from it, from us — for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.” — Michaela Coel (Emmy speech excerpt)
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