If you talk to any professional therapist, you’ll hear that our clients often struggle with “work stress” or “burn-out”. Not surprising, I know. We all have struggled with this from time to time.
With the economy as it is, it’s obviously important to focus on the positive as there are less opportunities in the job market then years past. I’m hearing, “I don’t have the luxury to be burned-out, I need to make this job work for me!” Keeping an open mind about alternatives is away a good thing and “making my current job work for me” isn’t to negate the need to explore other fields of work or employment opportunities. My work-stressed clients are more often than not asking for help in decreasing job stress at their current job.
With that in mind, over the next few weeks I’ll be writing about job stress and what to do to decrease and manage it more effectively.
In this post I’d like to ask something that seems to help my clients make a shift in their work stress: What “needs” are you seeking from work that may be unreasonable or unavailable to you within your work environment? Or a similar question is: Are you seeking to have what I call your “Primary Needs” met from a “Secondary” source (work)?
I’m well aware that when I start taking about “needs, Primary needs, Secondary sources” I run the risk of sounding like I’m speaking psycho-babble. Please hang in there and think about this for a bit.
Assuming you’re struggling at work, just what are you seeking from work? What “needs” are going unfulfilled so that you are dissatisfied, upset, feeling under-appreciated and/or unhappy? Or if it’s none of the above, just what is the struggle? Are you bored or feeling unchallenged?
Whatever it is I want my clients to make sure they are being realistic and reasonable about what they are seeking from their job. If a person is having an unreasonable expectation, or one that just flat-out isn’t going to be met at their current place of employment, then some of the issue will be resolved by changing what’s expected (until a time that a job change can take place).
Being bored at work, under-challenged, wanting job description changes etc. are all things that we can try to create change around in the work-place. The challenge becomes when the answer (either overly or covertly) is “No”. At that point it’s about accepting the job for what it is while making determinations re eventual changes (within the company or elsewhere).
The main topic of this post is to point out that sometimes people seek needs that aren’t going to be met at any job. Our “Primary Needs” are met withing our most intimate relationships. Feelings of being loved, truly accepted and appreciated, and valued are needs I’m wanting people to seek from their Primary Relationships…not their primarily from their job or work. I often see people who are unknowingly seeking needs from the workplace that are unrealistic. Most therapists know the work of Virgina Satire who worked with her clients on what she called the “Five Freedoms”…that she used to describe full personal functionality. Each freedom has to do with a basic human power…they are The Power to Perceive, The Power to Think and Interpret, The Power to Want and Choose, and the Power to Imagine. We are all limited in these powers within the work place…that’s just the way it is. They do exist in a healthy “Personal Life” outside of work…let’s have our focus of our “Primary Needs” be within this life, not our work life.
So, are you trying to get your personal and primary needs meet at work? If so, I’ll bet you’re disappointed and at time hurt by the lack of how those needs are fulfilled. Achievement is great and important…so is being able to pay our bills, support our families, and feel successful. Those are reasonable goals for work. Let’s just make sure we aren’t seeking needs/fulfillment from our workplace that’s unreasonable.
More on this in the near future. I’m hoping this post is food for thought.
To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here: Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.
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