Writing a dissertation brings with it many hard choices. Often those hard choices directly impact relationships.
One dissertation client told his parents that he can’t talk about his dissertation with them—not when it’s going well and not when he’s stuck—because he feels that it opens him to too much scrutiny.
But he’s always ill at ease around his parents, knowing that his dissertation is the elephant in the room. He finds that he puts enormous energy into avoiding the subject.
His decision and its aftereffects remind me of what another client told me about riding a difficult horse inside a large, covered arena where big steel uprights ran from ground to ceiling.
My client said she had been very afraid she was going to hit one of the big steel uprights because the horse was huge and very young and not completely steerable.
There was one upright in particular that worried her, and every time she came around the 20 meter circle, she would worry about that big steel upright.
And of course as she tried to avoid it, she came closer and closer to it.
You know what happened, right? She hit the one she had been trying to avoid.
The experience confirmed for her that if you focus on what you don’t want to happen, well, you get what you don’t want.
If you are trying to protect yourself from scrutiny, but find yourself putting increasingly more energy into that process, it’s time to reframe and refocus.
Where do you want to put your energy?
Where is your energy? I’d love to hear from you!
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Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach