Dear Dr. B,
There is so much stress and drama at my office. Management is harping on the tiniest of mistakes when the larger organization is falling apart. I’m getting caught in the crossfire and I’m walking around on eggshells, waiting for other shoe to drop. My stress is through the roof and it’s really taking a toll on me. Every time my boss calls a meeting, I feel overwhelmed, wondering what he’s going to find this time. People who are doing a good job but aren’t part of the “network” get targeted and take the fall for the truly incompetent. I’m working crazy hours and I know it’s going to catch up to me. I’m going to make a mistake and then what? What do I do?
~ Stressed to Perfection
Dear Stressed to Perfection,
That sounds like a shitty way to live. I have some survival tactics for you, of course, but I have to ask the question that’s as obvious as the nose on my face: Why are you still working there? I know it’s hard to start a job search. I know change can be difficult. I know that the devil you know can feel better than the devil you don’t. I know that you hate to give up and admit defeat. But, Stressed, this defeat doesn’t sound like it’s yours. Have you done your level best every day? If so, it’s time to assess what more you think you can do there (is there really anything?). And then, my friend, move on. It’s often hard for us as humans to do that. To give up. To throw in the towel. We stay committed to things (or people) until we’re set to be committed. That’s no bueno. Since I’m in the advice business, here’s my survival advice until such time as you walk out the doors and don’t walk back in:
Get active in your job search. There are other jobs and companies that would be blessed to find your kind of passion, fortitude, and competence. Seek them out.
Focus on self-care. How much are you exercising? How healthy are your food choices? When was the last time you took a day off? Pick one good thing you can do to show yourself some love and do that. Right now. Then pick another. Repeat. Building your strength and focusing on you is your best use of your energy. You’ve been focusing on Crazytown and that ain’t good.
Find your power. The first two pieces of advice were really all about this, to be honest, but I couldn’t start with this or you might have stopped reading before you got here. You are the only one in charge of your power but you’ve somehow forgotten that along the way. You’re handing over your power here by letting this situation define you. Stop that. When you’re surrounded by crazy you can feel as though you’re crazy, but that doesn’t make you crazy. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths before you enter or exit any room, meeting, start a project, take a call, etc. Imagine yourself in your happy place. What can you see? Smell? Feel? Now, when you’re interacting with the other inhabitants of Crazytown, imagine that they are behind plexiglass, like in a zoo exhibit. You’re in your happy place, they aren’t. You’re watching them like we watch the monkeys at the zoo, without becoming a monkey because we are on the other side of the glass. Observe what’s happening, but don’t become what’s happening. That’s where your power resides and where stress can’t find you.
Call me if you need support. You’re not alone, not out here where the peace and the power is.
~ Dr. B