It’s really difficult to feel like we’re holding back tears at the photocopier, or are too anxious to focus in a meeting, or find ourselves numbly staring at our computer screen.
Firstly I need to get this out of the way: it is normal to experience difficult feelings at work. If we’re going through a break up, or some kind of personal crisis, then these emotions will bubble up. Our emotions can not be silenced by suits and shiny shoes. Emotions still exist regardless of how important the meeting is.
An easy way to understand how toxic our working culture is, is to consider how big the consequences would be for breaking down at work. In general the more toxic the environment, the greater the consequences.
When this is the case, it can really help to have some close friends at work who we can trust and confide in so that we can feel a bit supported.
If these feelings aren’t to do with a temporary crisis, but instead are more of a persistent tearfulness or feeling of overwhelm – then they do need attention. These feelings need release, and the only way they get released is by processing them.
We often think that ‘processing’ means talking about them. Quite understandably, people often roll their eyes, and insist that they have “talked, and talked about their feelings and it hasn’t made an ounce of difference”.
I believe them. Talking only gets us so far.
However processing feelings means going to a deeper place than talking. This can feel like a riskier place for some people. It is about talking about the feelings in such a way that they are deeply and completely experienced, and that with the help of a therapist, you can reach an outcome, an emotional completion, that you haven’t reached before.
The healing happens at the same level at which the wounding happened.
At the same time, part of processing has to include talking. We also need to find some meaning and understanding around the experience.
It is at this point where it might also be important to consider whether changing career, or moving to a new firm would play an important role in recovery.
So the key here, is in deciphering what is ‘normal’ and will naturally pass, and what is more chronic and needs some loving attention.
Share your experience of overwhelming feelings at work, or go ahead, and ask any questions in the comments section.