Years ago, I had a job that I dreaded going to. I had a colleague who was hostile, aggressive and antagonistic to everyone around her, and it caused me a huge amount of stress. When we were working together, I felt defensive and vulnerable, sometimes finding my heart pounding at the thought of having to ask her a question or communicate an issue to her.
Her outrageous behavior was well known at the agency where I was working at the time. Everyone was afraid of her, and no one wanted to do anything about it. As time went on, I began to feel trapped and helpless. I loved my job, but she was making me miserable!
It came to a point where I dreaded every interaction with her. I felt that if only she would get fired or quit, my life would improve dramatically and everything would be good again.
I didn’t realize at the time, but I was putting my sense of joy, freedom, and power in a very unpleasant and unstable person. No wonder I was miserable!
If you are in a situation like this, here are some ways to turn your thinking around, reconnect with your authentic self, and eventually get yourself unstuck from the situation.
Stop feeling the need to defend yourself.
Realize that you are never going to feel or be free when you are in the mindset of needing to justify yourself to someone else.
As executive coach Stewart Emory says, “you’re just an extra from central casting,” meaning that someone else’s opinion of you is never personal. They’re just treating you as they would anyone who represents whatever it is you happen to represent to them.
Be okay with the fact that not everyone will see you for who you authentically are, and you don’t need to spend time worrying about it. By feeling the need to explain myself to my colleague when she was giving me a hard time, I was wasting valuable time and energy. The bottom line was she was never going to be a reasonable person, and I needed to stop wanting her to be.
2. Use your feelings to guide you to a place of balance.
How do you know when you’re not being authentic? You feel like shit! Luckily, unlike the opinions of a crazy person, our feelings are one thing we can actually control.
As Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from man except one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist whose entire family was killed and his life’s work destroyed in the Holocaust. Yet through it all, he maintained that we always have the choice of a better feeling thought.
If my younger self read that quote, I might have said that it was impossible to feel good with that woman in my life. In fact, there was a certain satisfaction and camaraderie in bitching about her with coworkers and to my husband. But that did nothing to improve my situation and in fact, it only made it worse.
If I was looking to feel joy and inner peace, focusing on the part of my job that sucked was never going to help me reach that goal - no matter how justified I was.
3. Use your thoughts to guide your feelings.
Many people think that when they feel better, their thinking about the situation will improve, but the opposite is actually true: your thoughts create your emotions. This is good news because it means you have the power to improve your situation all the time - it’s all a matter of focus.
When you’re focused on thoughts that you’re being treated unfairly, you’ll be stuck in a shitty situation until someone else gets fired or quits. If you’re honest with yourself, there is always going to be someone treating you unfairly in life. If you’re waiting until you are treated well by everyone in the world to be happy, you’ll be waiting a long time.
So how do you use your freedom to choose better feeling thoughts? By focusing only on the parts of the job you enjoy. Make a list every day of the parts of your job that are awesome and that make you feel great.
Here are some examples:
I’m great at my job and I love how I’ve been asked to head the new project. It feels good to know that my hard work is being recognized.
I love that I have friends at work. It’s great that we connect and support each other throughout the day.
My job gives me a daily opportunity to be creative in new ways.
I love that I’m taking care of my family with my income.
Look at the situation with a sense of gratitude and appreciation and then think about the feelings. The great part is that the more you use these tools, the more they’ll work for you!
If you want to learn more about how to use your thoughts to guide your feelings and find a place of balance, get in touch with me. You can call me at 973-769-2401 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.