Calm Business, in their 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report: The Future of Work, reported that forty-two percent of respondents to a workplace mental health survey said that workplace challenges are the top reason they seek mental health support.
This is followed by personal illness, dealing with the illness of a family member, losing a loved one, and dealing with financial stress. Other studies indicate that employees feel stressed with overload, lack of personal control, and high pressure demands.
My aim is to shine light on the dynamics in the workplace and suggest practices that can bring clarity for each of us. Change at work begins with understanding how you can empower yourself to find personal freedom, peace, and satisfaction.
Dealing with stress and anxiety at work and in life starts with self-knowledge. Understanding how the ego operates is essential. The ego in the workplace, uses strategies to feel safe, superior, and impenetrable. Ego behavior prevents collaboration, cooperation, and creates stress, gossip, and internal competition. The path to our own personal satisfaction and those with whom we work takes awareness of the ego, the blocks, and the obstacles. Whether you are a leader or an employee, I want to recommend the following for finding personal satisfaction, freedom, and peace of mind.
- Pause and breathe.
Take a deep breath frequently throughout the day. Deep breathing slows down a busy mind and helps stop the circuitous thought process. Whether we recognize it or not, we are often caught in a repeating thought pattern that goes round and round, never arriving at a solution but is just a habit of worrying. Unless you stop and realize that is what you are doing, it can keep you feeling agitated and in angst. You are often regretting some previous behavior or feeling fearful about the future. You are definitely not present.
- Be personally responsible.
Being responsible for our own actions and choices means we deal with the consequences. We are not powerless, and we are not victims. Placing blame on others or circumstances is often so subtle and so automatic, we don’t even know that we have handed away the controls for driving our own story. But other people’s words or behaviors are not really causing our pain or insecurity. We do that to ourselves. If we want the story to change, we need to first see that we are the writer and director of the story. As we do this, we will take off the limitations and fears and find much more peace, success, and happiness. When we regain authorship for our life, we will find courage to make empowered choices.
- Be aware of your automatic pilot.
Much of our behavior is automatic and that is okay for many things so that we can get them done quickly and safely. It is a normal human way of operating in the world. But sometimes our automatic behavior is a quick and repeated way to deal with issues in our lives, but it doesn’t give us new possibilities. Many times, we are doing the same behavior just wrapped up in a new package. Then we are surprised when the result is the same. If you genuinely want positive changes or new improved outcomes in your life, you have to first see that you are on automatic pilot and be willing to wake up, be aware of what is not working, and make new choices.
- Be aware of what you can’t control.
Becoming aware of what problems and events are out of our control is an important step for finding personal happiness and satisfaction. As we separate and accept what is out of our own control, we prioritize the things that we can control and take action on those, rather than fretting or stewing over the uncontrollable. You will gain energy and power by directing your attention on what you can do in your own behalf, rather than complaining or whining about what you can’t do or don’t like.
- Be open to new options.
Just being open to new possibilities is a giant leap forward in finding personal satisfaction and success. Being resistant to new ideas or new options, is so common we are unaware of what we prevent coming into our lives. Most people don’t like change and fear the unknown. But opening a closed mind, even for a minute, can assist you in finding brand new opportunities that are better than you imagined. But we have to be at least open to let the light in. As Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
- Recognize and overcome self-doubt.
Self-doubt is a human plague that affects everyone. When you doubt yourself, it is often because you fear what others will say about you if you venture out of your usual behavior. It feels much easier to be safe and protected but fearing rejection or failure prevents you from achieving new goals or having exciting new experiences. People who have achieved great feats or created something brand new, were willing to give up their fears of what others might say and the worries of being shamed or humiliated if they failed.
- Focus on gratitude for the good in your life.
Much of the pain and suffering we experience can be attributed to what we tell ourselves. I have found that recognizing and appreciating all the good in our lives helps us stay positive and brings more of the same toward us. Feeling gratitude in the morning and before we go to bed helps our state of mind.
- Express compassionate grace.
Having compassion and giving grace to others is genuine empathy. Studies again and again are recognizing that empathic leaders elevate the results in employee surveys and make a huge difference in recruiting. In a competitive market for seeking and attracting employees, leaders who express compassionate grace will contribute to the culture people are seeking in today’s workplace.
- Connect with your core strength and inner wisdom.
Everyone has a deep inner state, an innate wisdom, that is part of their inheritance as a human being. Whether we connect with that deep self is up to us. Too often, the ego jumps in the way, wanting to be right, wanting to be superior, and needing constant validation. When we can bring ourselves to the present moment, give up the constant mental chatter, and simply slow down, we will find a deeper sense of who we really are. It is a relief to take off the mask and let ourselves be vulnerable, authentic, and open. Shining light on our shadow, comprised of our fears, our doubts, and angsts, frees us to have not only new experiences but real, immeasurable joy.
As we all individually unravel our ego strategies that are barriers to our own peace and personal satisfaction, we impact everyone with whom we work. We communicate better, we build quality teams, we innovate, and we better serve patients, families, and communities.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.“–Ralph Waldo Emerson
**By Danna Beal
💜 Compassion & Love