Protecting Yourself In Difficult Situations

The other day I was talking to a friend who is having some issues at work. It’s a pretty negative environment and it’s been hard for her to not only enjoy what she’s doing but also want to be there. When she was hired she was under the impression there would be work/life balance, but instead it’s been all work and no life.

Besides trying to figure out what is truly best for her and dealing with the nerves that come from the should I stay or should I go conversation – she is still caught in the day-to-day minutia that’s draining her energy and leaving her overwhelmed.

“I just want to block it out.” Is what she said. “So I can get through this until I leave.”

To protect ourselves in any battle we’ve learned we have to wear armor. We have to put up a shield. We have to somehow surround ourselves with pain proof glass. And normally in these circumstances we fight back to protect ourselves. We defend. We attack.

So when my friend said I want to block it out – in a way, what she wants is to protect herself from what she is feeling so she can just get through it. She doesn’t want to feel the way she is. In some circumstances it’s possible for us to remove ourselves from situations or people that we know don’t bring out our best selves, but other times…while still possible to leave…we have to wait a bit longer than we’d like.

We have to wait because we need the income. We have to wait because we don’t believe we can do anything else. We have to wait because we’re scared nobody else will hire us. We have to wait until we find another job or our partner makes more money.

But how do we deal with these difficult situations while we wait? How can we protect our energy our mental well-being while in these difficult situations?

  1. Head in to work with the intention to enjoy what you can and let go of the rest.
  2. Don’t take anything your boss says or your colleagues say personally. You can even repeat to yourself, “I don’t have to take this personally. I’m not going to take this personally.”
  3. If you’re beating yourself up for something you did wrong forgive yourself. And also silently forgive yourself for putting the other person in the position to have to respond and react the way they did.  You made a mistake – this doesn’t mean you are a horrible person or that you’re stupid and will never find another job – you made a mistake from which you get the opportunity to learn from and move on.
  4. Don’t make assumptions about what the others in the office or your boss is thinking about. No need to add any accessories to the direct experience – all adding on does is make something bad or good when it simply is.
  5. Remind yourself that everyone is going through it and that you respect and care for those you work with. They aren’t out to get you or make you feel badly. You have a shared purpose / passion – focus on what you both have in common and care for that shared responsibility.
  6. Know that you don’t have to respond in situations that are difficult. You can say – this is a difficult situation for me; I’m not sure how to respond. I’ll need to take some time.
  7. When you feel your body tensing up – your chest, your stomach, or that you want to roll your eyes, attack, defend, shake your head – pay attention to the reaction in your body or the want to get annoyed and upset and drawn in. Then remind yourself that you don’t have to engage in this way if you don’t want to. You can choose to respond differently. Instead, cultivate compassion for the other person – I know they’ve been under a lot of stress lately – they have deadlines to meet – they have dues that need to be paid – their manager is nagging them – this is how they are trying to help the situation – then try silently saying – I want to be nice to this person – I want to be helpful – kind.
  8. Before going in to work do a visualization. Imagine that you are protected by a violet light, or within an encasing of some sort – you know that with this around you no one can affect your energy. It acts like a racquetball wall. Other people’s negative energy bounces off of you – their judgements – their blame – their anger. By bouncing off you don’t attach to the words and by not attaching to the words you can’t suffer from them.

Caring for ourselves is a full-time job and it’s important for us to have strategies and techniques to use when we know we have to weather a difficult situation for a bit longer. Hopefully the above proves helpful.


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