Welcome to “Dear Dana”, our regular column on career and workplace advice/coaching. Please write in and tell me about a career challenge or frustration you’re facing at the office! – Dana Theus
Dear Dana, I’ve been having a tough time at work lately (crappy boss etc.) and my sister keeps telling me I should be feeling grateful. I don’t see how this is going to help me and I’m getting really impatient with my sister in addition to my boss. What should I do? – Annoyed in Arizona
I feel you! Those people who are always running around with the answer “love and light” for every question about difficult things can be—annoying!
Fortunately, they’re right, too, but not always for the reasons you might think.
The reason I think it’s so annoying to be told to feel love, gratitude and other kind feelings when you’re annoyed is because being annoyed, upset or angry is a totally different state of being than feeling love, light and gratitude. It’s jarring to think you can get from one to the other so quickly. After all, you’re annoyed and frustrated for a reason! Love and light don’t always just make those feelings disappear!
But love and light actually can bring you to a state where those reasons don’t feel as important to you when you learn to practice your “love and light muscles.” And this is the point, to learn to shift yourself from annoyed to peaceful quickly so you can respond to the difficult reality from a better place.
Even though you want the boss to change first, this is usually a futile hope. More importantly, it puts the control of your emotions and fate in someone else’s hands (a difficult someone at that!) However, once you learn to shift yourself, and your own reaction to things regardless of what others do or don’t do, the difficult boss starts to feel less difficult. And once you’ve shifted emotionally to a more centered plan, it’s easier to problem-solve the best way to deal with others who cause you those negative emotions. When you’re more emotionally centered you can think more clearly and act with more intention.
Learning to Shift Yourself
Letting go of those negative emotions like anger, shame, guilt, anxiety and hurt to begin this shift can be extremely hard. This is probably why people like your sister wisely tell you to feel focus on feeling grateful instead. Gratitude is a powerful emotion which, when you tap into it deeply, has the power to melt away those negative feelings. Gratitude is a wonderful way to begin to shift your own perspective and improve the relationship. Here’s the trick, though. To genuinely tap into the deep well of potential gratitude lying within you, you must focus on things that genuinely put you in a state of feeling grateful, right now. Here are a few examples in your situation:
- I’m so genuinely grateful that my crappy boss is helping me see how ready I am to get a new job
- I’m so genuinely grateful that my crappy boss’s opinion of me is so obviously wrong that it helps me see my own value more clearly
- I’m so genuinely grateful that despite a crappy boss, I love absolutely everything else about my work and my life
- I’m so genuinely grateful to my boss for giving me this opportunity to let go of so many negative feelings I am carrying around inside me by feeling grateful instead
What else can you add to this list that you have deep gratitude about, and which your crappy boss situation helps you get in touch with? As you add to this list you’ll begin to feel your negative emotions about your boss transform and slip away as the warm feelings of gratitude take over.
So to sum up your sister’s wisdom here, you have the power to change your state from frustrated to peaceful and this can improve your situation, at work and at home, both. Once you’re in a more peaceful state you may still have to figure out how to deal with your boss, but it will be a lot easier. And by the way, I know how hard this can be. That’s why when my clients are struggling to get past the negative emotions and stay more regularly in a state of gratitude, I start by helping them detrigger. All those negative emotions are exacerbated by your triggers. Once you learn to detrigger, you have the tools to let gratitude in whenever you need it. Good luck!
P.S. – Have a question you’d like anonymous support on? Write me!
Download the free InPower Coaching career health guidelines for dealing with difficult people and stress at work.