I was reminded this week of how far I’ve come in changing the old patterns in my work life, the negative situations that kept recurring over and over. I was always a quick learner and a smart, hard worker who did good work, but I had ongoing challenges that, I learned only later, were caused by anxiety and depression.
The way I used to approach some tasks and issues at work was like knocking my head against a wall, then another wall, then another wall. So much of my energy was spent banging my head against the wall trying to manage these challenges that I usually ended up frustrated, overwhelmed and bitter in every job I ever had.
When I started focusing on personal healing and growth, I identified, reflected on, and changed those moments at work when I felt frustrated and overwhelmed. Here is what I discovered:
Lack of Motivation: Sometimes, I lacked motivation to do the work or to get started with a task or project. As the work piled up, so did my guilt and my justifications.
What worked for me: Starting by doing the parts I like. And, very important, learning not to guilt myself, rather to acknowledge that it’s difficult but that I am working on it, little by little. And praising myself for the work that has been done.
Distracted/Hard to Focus: There were times when I just couldn’t focus on a task, either because it overwhelmed me or I just couldn’t focus, period. Again, sometimes the work piled up and the guilt stared me down.
What worked for me: If I felt overwhelmed, I broke the task down into parts on paper; I’m a visual person so I need to see it to understand it. If I didn’t know how to do something, I googled it (it’s amazing what’s out there…).
Then, I concentrated only on the first task I had to do — and I made sure that task was manageable. I also allowed myself to take mini-breaks as I worked.
To enhance my focus, I did 1) my Line of Calm technique, and 2) my Full Calm technique, and 3) I connected with my self and with the world around me. These visualizations have been crucial to enhancing my ability to focus and to see clearly and objectively.
Moodiness/Negativity: For a long time before I started to do my personal growth work, moodiness and negativity were very difficult issues for me.
What worked for me: When I noticed myself falling into that murky, quicksand of moodiness or negativity, I stopped what I was doing and 1) opened my heart, 2) connected with my self and the world around me, 3) balanced my energy centres and/or 4) (silently) forgave myself and any others involved. Then, I re-evaluated the situation and did the techniques again if needed.
Dwelling on mistakes: I call it Sinking Stomach Syndrome — that moment when you realize you made a mistake (or, worse, when someone else points it out) and your stomach falls into your feet. You frantically try to justify your actions or words, to explain them to yourself and to others. You panic. You dwell on it. Every time you dwell on it, you panic again. You think that others think badly of you. You question yourself. You think that they question you. You dwell on it some more…
What worked for me: 1) Taking some breaths. Every time I exhaled, sometimes I sent love into my entire being, sometimes I let all the crap fall out of me and go into the earth (that took a while…). 2) I worked at opening my heart. It could be quite hard sometimes. 3) I forgave myself — everybody makes mistakes. I reminded myself that the important thing is learning from those mistakes and making them count. If anyone else was involved, I (silently) forgave them too.
After four or so years of personal work (that mentioned above plus more), my work challenges rarely involve anxiety and depression anymore. I still face stress and other regular challenges at work but, when I do, I know what to do and I can handle those difficult moments. I still make mistakes… and I’m okay with it because I’m still learning. Allllllways learning.