Just back from work. I feel a kind of despair. Although a lot of good and vital things are actually going on in my life, and I hope to post about them also. But right now, I feel despair.

Work brings on so much anxiety for me. I am not accepted, I don’t have a friend there. Actually, having one friend there would make all the difference to me. But that I don’t have.

I had an interesting project, but it was felt I suppose that I wasn’t doing well, though I’d barely begun it, so that was given to a more senior full-time person to do. This is the same IT woman who was giving me work and being quite friendly. Well, she kept me on the project, but has been really disparaging of what I’d done so far. Today there was a meeting on it, and everything I said, which wasn’t a whole lot, but any comment I made or question I asked, she kind of shot down as if I was an idiot. Ouch. That hurt. Then the admin assistant would say the same thing I had, but spent ten minutes doing so, and that was fine, she was listened to carefully.

In general, I do not do well at work. It’s odd, because I did well in school, academically at least. My writing was praised quite a bit. But at work, in many jobs, I come across as not very good. It’s likely more to do with an anxious approach than my actual skills. So much is judged very fast at work – oh, this person is great, this person is crap, on so little evidence. Just appearances.

Though of course it’s also possible that I am simply not much good at what I do.

I can trace this kind of thing back to my family. Not to make excuses, but to try and understand what goes wrong, and maybe get some distance from the whole scenario. My father was an academic, the first in his family even to get to university, never mind earning a doctorate. A lot of his value to himself is his brains, which makes sense I suppose.

Anyway, as kids, we were always encouraged to be extremely smart. We weren’t much critiqued on our appearance or our manners, but brains was where it was at. There’s nothing that wrong with having intelligence as your main value perhaps. But my father was insecure, so he always had to win debates among us. Of course, the ten year old child I was could not match wits with a grown adult with many years of education, and win. But wasn’t his job to encourage? He didn’t do that. Instead, he felt he had to show how smart he was in debating things with us and beating us down.

This backfires as a child raising technique. I just became very anxious any time I had a thought and expressed it.

So now, any time at work there is something to think about, if I speak up about something, I’m attacked with massive anxiety.

Most would just not talk in this situation. However, that’s not my personality. So I somehow feel I must say what I know, and then am attacked from within by anxious feelings. At which point I’m trying to dampen down those feelings, and keep up whatever conversation there is. Which makes whatever I say a kind of anxious mess. Which makes people respond badly to me.

Oh, who knows. This is what it seems like to me.

I just don’t want to be disliked anymore.

I will post soon on some more encouraging aspects of my life. Just right now, after work, I can’t.

  1. gniz said:

    keep perspective now…this is where the rubber meets the road in your practice to treat yourself better. NOW. this is a big opportunity to change your reactions and self criticism.Relax. Take some deep breaths. Don't jump to all the negatives that you are not liked, that people think you aren't good, etc. Granted, it is hard to change people's assumptions once they've made up their minds…but still.Are you looking for a new job? Getting in somewhere where you make a better fit could make a big difference. It has for me. Sometimes just having a boss you really get along with…But its not all one answer. Take the power back. You can look for new work, while keeping at this job with the best possible attitude.Realize that you are making the necessary changes, and that frequently you're losing perspective on how people see you because of past trauma.But right now, when things feel worst, is when you have potential to REALLY change. I know from experience. Take this chance to change your habitual patterns. Turn it around and realize that you are doing better and will continue to improve with steady hard work.

  2. Paula said:

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I can understand you feel despiar yet you wrote yourself that is not all your life is made of. You know sometimes I use to tough words: there are things you can not change and there are things you can: you can not change how much other people like you. However you can change that you are listened too in standing up for yourself. Being shouted down. Stand up for yourself and calmly speak: when I did it the first time I was trembling and nearly lost my voice; I said: I feel miserabel right now as I never spoke up for myself. For myself and a better communication within the team, I am going to speak NOW…..Yet there is another aspect to PTSD: if untreated or not effectively treated it porgresses over time. 12 years ago I was one of the 2 Location Marketing Mangere appointed to the German government, establishing foreign companies in Germany and expaning over to Eastern Europe. By now thinking of this responsibility – gosh it makes my skin crawl! My deepest low is over, I am improving again, yet the idea to work on such a high level, still makes my skin crawl. Still a long way to go, yet I speak again for myself. Looking forward to your positive posts yxet I will be away for soem weeks on my pilgrimage and wont always have time to pass by. I will be thinking of you. Love acoss the pond

  3. diver said:

    Hi Ellen, it's hard to believe you're "no good at what you do". A blind blogger could see that you're a gifted communicator – so clear and 'reader focussed'. For technical writing you've clearly got the requisite skills, please don't doubt it!I do understand what you say about turning to mush in conversation though. I used to be like that too, in a way, only I'd blush and freeze a lot (like an A1 nerd). I wish I had a quick cure for you … alas I suspect my own conversational disasters all just helped condition my agoraphobia in the end. I got so sick of the workplace competitiveness: the unspoken demand to present oneself as a strong, slick, consistent, commanding, 'in control', trash-talking sorta person … I guess I just gave up in the end, accepted that I was better cut out for working at home, alone. Maybe you are too?Yeah, you're right … dad's are supposed to 'encourage', not 'compete'. And with little girls, well … you let them win at least 60% of the time, even rig the game so that they do. That's my understanding of fatherhood, anyway. Of course I now have three young adult daughters who think they're better than everyone so pah, maybe it's a no win situation haha.What you said about the IT woman with whom you've been getting along … I thought that was sad. She was the closest thing you had to a friend there and she … well, she demonstrated quite a bit of insensitivity I think. I hope she's since recriminated about that mistake and has resolved not to do it again!All the best Ellen. I', sending warm vibes to you, and to your chilly workplace 🙂

  4. ellen said:

    Thanks dear commenters. I actually teared up when I read your supportive comments today.@gniz – Very nice to see you Aaron and thanks for the pep talk! Now Mike's closed his blog and you're not posting, I was wondering if you were still going to come by…Today was actually a much better day. For some reason, my co-worker talked to me a bit today, and also I got along with the strong silent type, the other co-worker, by asking him about a knotty Word issue…I like your advice and will attempt it. That you speak from some personal experience is interesting too. I'm putting out some feelers for other work also. And I definitely lose perspective, especially on lack of sleep, that's for sure. Thx!I have to go to bed (top priority is trying to get some sleep) – will respond to Paula and diver tomorrow…take care. I love the comments on my blog – so helpful.

  5. gniz said:

    Hey Ellen,Glad my words and the wise comments from fellow readers have helped you, and that things are improving.Years ago, I used to be so insecure at my jobs that anytime my boss or certain co-workers walked by without smiling or acted distant, I would think they were extremely angry at me or thought I sucked.Now I no longer think that way–mostly–sometimes it rears its ugly head. But for the most part, I understand that people are stuck in their own worlds, thinking of themselves pretty much 99 percent of the time. They rarely come out of their own heads enough to bother seeing what's going on with someone else. So if they're being distant or cold, you can almost always chalk it up to their interior state and maybe just having a bad day, etc.That being said, my last job i was at, I didn't get along that great with my boss. It wasn't horrible, but we just didn't connect–and by the end of my time there, I was pretty miserable. It sucked. I didn't get a very good review and I eventually found other work. But i was steaming most of the time I was there, angry about their lack of appreciation, etc. And I did obsess for awhile about why nobody seemed to like me, it brought back many of those old feelings I was talking about earlier in this comment.So, my overall point is that most of the time, we can write off people's reactions to us as being about them. Their life, their problems, they probably barely even think about you, to be honest.However, sometimes if you don't get along that great with a boss or co-worker, it can really make the job an unpleasant place to be, and that's just how it is. When that happens, my suggestion is to try and find other work, and also to try as hard as you can not to let it get you down or take it as a sign that YOU are somehow a crappy worker, not likeable, all that other stuff.So many people go through these issues, Ellen. So, so many people deal with this stuff, to varying degrees. I think you are doing all the right things, and that you just need to keep reminding yourself of the very basic premise. Try to stay calm and relaxed, even if something is going awry at work. Try to be that person that everyone says, "how do you stay so calm when everyone else is freaking out?"Try being the one who says, "everything's gonna work out. Let's not get carried away."I know this would be difficult, and maybe counterintuitive, but you can always make it a goal! I do that at work all the time, despite being very high strung, I just put on a calm face and try not to take it seriously.Of course, it's easier to do when my buttons aren't being pushed. Anyhow, I've rambled long enough. Just remember that you're not alone and you've got plenty of fans rooting for your success.

  6. Ellen said:

    @Paula – Thanks Paula, it's so interesting to hear your experience as we have many similarities. I'll keep in mind that I can speak up for myself also….I haven't had the experience of working at a very high level and then not able to any more. I've just always shied away from the world. But I am doing a job that is less than I am able to do from a skills perspective, because of my anxiety and other symptoms, such as not being able to sleep etc. So though it's not a high level job, it challenges me psychologically and socially. I admire that you were able to speak up in a trembling voice, despite everything!I wish you all the best on the pilgrimage and will think of you often Paula. Hugs@diver – Thanks for the vote of confidence on the skills…especially as you are a fine writer yourself. I actually think I could develop my writing more with practice – it's serviceable but nothing special at the moment. Not to put myself down, but just being realistic about where I'm at. Anyhow, at my job that doesn't matter. It's mostly about being extremely detail oriented. People there don't know what good writing is or isn't, so they go by the image they have of the person. I know what you mean about the 'spirit of the office' 🙂 But somehow I must master it. I give in to my moods too much when at home, get depressed and don't get much done. So off to work I must go!I like your vision of fatherhood! Your daughters are lucky.Yeah, it is sad about the IT woman. Thanks for sympathizing. It was a blow to me. You cheered me up diver! A big thank you all the way to Australia.@gniz – Thanks for telling a bit about your story…that is so interesting and it is very much like what I go through too. Hmm…maybe the job is a very bad fit for me also. Well, several times I kind of was walking past the door when my boss was leaving, so I said goodbye, have a good weekend, and she didn't respond. The person with her kind of waved at me though. Sigh. I assumed I was about to be fired. But who knows, maybe she was just tired. We certainly do not have rapport.I am taking your calmness advice very seriously Aaron. If I can do that, it will improve things for me. It is entirely counter-intuitive though. A worthwhile project. Cheers

  7. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,In the UK we had a comedy series named 'The Fast Show'. One of the recurring sketches was a father and son in different scenarios which reminds me a lot of what you said about your own upbringing. In one sketch they are playing cricket in a park and as the young boy bowls the father whacks the ball for miles leaving the kid to retrieve it while he ran about waving his arms in celebration. It was the ridiculousness of it that made it funny. Its not so different from what you described but there is nothing funny about that. As you said that is not an encouraging way to bring up a child and must have been a continual opression on your self esteem.Your work environment to me just isn't healthy. I do wish you could find something elsewhere. Not to say that it would be any different as cliques exist in every workplace but at least there would be a chance. As a contractor I worked in lots of different places and found some like you are in now but also a lot more that weren't like that. What I learned though is that you cannot change people like that. And it is not you that is the problem. In many ways its not even personal even if the attacks are. No matter who comes in they would find the same problem even if they were the nicest most intelligent person on the planet.Anyway I hope things get better for you or a new opportunity arises.All the bestNechtan

  8. I'm so sorry that things are yulky for you at work. Ouch! That sucks!I have some similar issues (like believing no one wants to be around me) . . . I'm learning that, in order to shift my current experience, I have to shift what I believe about myself.For me, that involves looking at past experiences. Otherwise, I'd be spending my energy learning how to manage and minimize the coping symptoms. Personally, I find it much more satisfying to heal whatever is causing the pain rather than figure out a different way to cover it up. As long as I'm tied up managing symptoms, I don't have the ability to joyfully live.I know your experience of dealing with past trauma has been traumatic in and of itself . . . but, I encourage you to find a therapist who can help you do so gently. I am learning that skill set is rare . . but worth the search.- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  9. Ellen said:

    @Nechtan – I had to smile at your description of the scene from 'The Fast Show'. That pretty much summed it up. Comedy is funny because there is a lot of truth to it I think.Yeah, it could be my work place is not much good. Interesting to hear your experience too. I'm putting out feelers for other work. But I know that I also have a problem with anxiety and especially social anxiety, and that would follow me to the other work also. But I'd do a lot to get away from this one co-worker, that's for sure. Thanks for the comment.@Marie – That's a really good point about healing the cause of the symptoms, rather than continually just managing them. The therapist I have should be able to do that – I chose her because she specializes in trauma. But who knows. And you're quite right – I was re-traumatized with my last attempt at therapy. Still haven't got the sleeping back. Nice to have you visit Marie!

  10. gniz said:

    I've been reading Marie's blog and highly recommend it. I think she's a great example (so far, I haven't gotten through it all yet) of how to deal artfully with these kinds of issues.It's also helped me with some understanding of the stuff happening with my niece…So Ellen, not sure if you've read Marie's blog, but fwiw I think it's really insightful and educational.Hope all is well.Aaron

  11. Ellen said:

    Thanks for the recommend Aaron. I have read Marie's blog, and will have to see about putting a link on my sidebar too. Once that link is there, I go check the blog a lot more. She does have a good grasp of the issues – good to hear you find it helpful. I'm fine, just very tired. I'm in survival mode – working and taking care of the basics, and after that, not much else. I wish all the best to you and to your niece also.

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