Posts tagged workplace tears
The Courage Within
many faces.jpg

I had a really good week.

I made it through a full schedule of classes without my body falling apart, I am getting into a GROOVE with my students at GVSU and I launched my new website. All three are reasons to celebrate, yet the thing I am most proud of is that I am doing them all MY WAY.

As part of the clearing out process that comes with a website/blog switch, some old posts left in my drafts are popping up. I know my last post was also about staying in the wrong place too long and what it does to a person, and normally I would not share two of the same in a row, but I feel compelled to share the message that making change is up to you.

NOTHING, no job, no person, no life situation should ever be allowed to make you feel less than. To make you feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, to make you question your worth, to suck the joy out of you. Life is not meant to be so hard.

Over 5 years ago I found the courage to let go of what was no longer serving me as I set off to follow my heart. It was a scary fantastic thing to do. The result is I now end my days with a smile, a sense of worth/belonging, and knowledge that I make a difference. The dirty feet, messy hair and sweaty clothes I come home with are an in-the-present daily reminder of this. What a difference operating from your sweet spot makes in a person's level of joy. Below is the post from my drafts, I hope my words resonate with the right person today and encourage change.

You are enough. You are worthy and deserving of joy. You have a place in this world that is meant just for you. Find it.

Courage does not mean that you possess the strength to carry on. Courage means that you will carry on when you feel that you no longer have the strength.

This is one of the first statuses I saw when I opened up Facebook this morning. Maybe it was an answer to last night's prayers asking for the strength to get through the funk I am in. Maybe it was just what I needed to realize that I need to find the courage to plow through my current problems and face my fears. After struggling through another sleepless night, and waking up to the same sad, scared, tears-really-close-to-the-surface-feeling I have experienced for the last couple of weeks, I am ready for a change. I do not want to feel like this anymore. It sucks.

I believe in being honest. So I will tell you that my blog has been quiet because I haven't been myself. I don't know what people who suffer from depression feel like, so I won't say that is how I have been feeling, but I think it might be appropriate. I will say I am stressed, beyond stress I have ever felt before. Emotional is maybe not a strong enough word.

It stems from me feeling like a failure. At work. I was hoping by now that I would have achieved a different result, I've certainly tried hard enough. But a year after I began my quest to find my place within a changing industry and a stagnant company, nothing has changed. Honestly it has gotten even worse, for me. Because now that I have tried so hard, and beat myself up every step of the way trying to make sure I was doing the right things, and they haven't worked, I now I feel that I have indeed failed. Not a feeling I am used to.
Lately this feeling of failure is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, what I think about during the night when I cannot sleep, and what awaits me when I wake up in the morning. It permeates everything I do. It is wrecking one of my favorite times of year. It is wrecking the joy I feel being around my own family.
I hate feeling uncertain, unappreciated, unsure, heck, unwanted. I hate that there is a now a knot in my gut all day long. I was foolish enough to think that people at work would see how hard I was trying. That by me finding the courage to take some chances and think outside the box, it would count for something. That someone in management would appreciate and recognize the lengths I was willing to go to find a solution.
Instead my value to the company is even more in question. So much so, I felt like I was summoned to a meeting to get my walking papers last week. I didn't, at least not yet. That is never a nice feeling to experience, but it is especially hard for me because our family size has recently increased by two. At this moment in my life, my contribution to the family income, is crucial.
Why is it that after doing a job for almost 24 years, my opinion does not matter? Why is it that after continually attempting to share ideas, and implement them, I am questioned about what I really do, what my role is? Whose fault is it that I am in a "grey area"? Why am I, after 12 years with this company, asked to write my own job description to clear up the confusion about what I do?
How can I not be offended by this? And not then take everything said as a criticism? My new boss (who has been at our company for a year) told me he has no idea what I really do. How is that even possible? If someone told you that you needed to start submitting a report every Friday about what you were going to do the next week, how would you take that? I cannot "not be so sensitive". I must be wired differently.
I take it like this, I am a failure. If no one can see any value to what I bring to the table, somewhere I have made a crucial error. Did I fail to advocate for myself? To make sure I achieved recognition? I am not motivated by my personal gain (at least not monetarily). Job satisfaction, passion for what I do, and joy come from feeling that I make a difference. Clearly I have failed to make that difference in my workplace, I have failed to matter. And that is my worst fear realized.
So, I am facing it. I am now going to find the courage to carry on. This blog will no longer remain quiet. I will once again achieve success. My promise to my family is this: I will not be sad anymore. I will fix this.

When one door closes, another opens.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe these quotes will help.
He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses his courage loses all. - Miguel de Cervantes

Have the courage to face a difficulty lest it kick you harder than you bargain for. - Stanislaus

Crying for all the Right Reasons

Is your check engine light on? Mine sure was. A few months ago mine clicked on, and stayed on.Thankfully I paid attention to it.

I recognized that something was not right. I was crying. A lot. At work, while driving in the car, when I got home from work, and even in the middle of the night. I would wake up, begin tossing and turning, and the silent tears would start.

"What the heck is wrong with me?" I wondered.  Was I for the first time in my life depressed? Was I going through some kind of mid-life crisis? Was I sick? Or was the new job I had taken on, too much for me?

Why were tears so close to the surface all the time?

I was most concerned about the tears I shed at work. To me they were awkward and a deeper sign of a problem --- they felt like tears of frustration and dissatisfaction, but they came across to others as complaining. It bothered me that I couldn't seem to control them whenever I got passionate about an idea or a situation where I needed help with a  solution. What I thought needed to be done, and what I saw that needed fixing, wasn't as important to others. So not only did it feel like no one was listening, it felt like they thought I was trying to fix things for all the wrong reasons. Like I was being selfish.

I am pretty sure the stomach ache I had constantly was an early form of an ulcer. The ache grew from a sense of misalignment that even I didn't clearly see -- until many months later, after I had time to reflect. All I knew was that I couldn't seem to get away from the stress. And the stress seemed to be felt only by me.

At the time I had no idea that emotion in the workplace is not only normal, but helpful. Generally workplace tears represent anger or frustration at something that isn't right, more than they represent negativity and overall sadness. Check out this video from Anne Kreamer, Author of It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace.


Some interesting things I have since come to learn about emotion in the workplace:

•The person crying is almost always embarrassed and wishes they weren’t crying. •The most professional response is to hand the person crying a box of tissue and continue the conversation. The worst thing you can do is to make a big deal of the tears, or to withdraw from the conversation and stop talking to the person, making them feel worse. •The person crying is often a person who has a lot invested in their work, or who is experiencing something in the workplace that goes against their personal values. It’s very important to listen and to ask a lot of questions to determine the source of the frustration. •Dig a little. The first explanation for the emotion may not be the real one. It might only be the most recent one. •Don’t see tears as weakness or negativity. They are very simply someone's reaction to strong emotions.

It is important for the person doing the crying and the manager (or whomever is observing the tears), to move through the emotion and get to heart of the matter. Too many managers, especially men, feel really uncomfortable and guilty when tears are present. They hurry the tears and attempt to alleviate the distress. What is really needed is to connect deeply with the person crying, and to  listen to what they are truly saying. That will build both trust and respect, and give you a good insight into the things that might be out of balance.

It was only after I made the decision to quit my job that I found this video. And with time and distance, things began to make sense to me.

I was crying for all the right reasons. I was in the wrong job (for me) and no amount of effort was going to fix that. And until I removed myself from the internal stress I was feeling, my tears were going to continue; at work, at home, in the car, in the middle of the night --- everywhere.

If you find yourself crying a lot ( especially at work), it might be time to give your check engine light a look.