Maybe you’re dealing with a client or coworker who drives you crazy
Or you’ve got a boss who’s critical or demanding
Or the commute is killing you
Or the work itself is so frustrating you feel like you just can’t take it anymore.
When you’re miserable at work it’s easy to carry those negative feelings around with you all the time.
A bad day at work can easily turn into an evening of snapping at your partner for every little thing even when all you wanted was to just have a nice evening at home after a crappy day. Which just leaves you feeling worse.
And the frustration can double when your irritation at your current job is draining all the energy you need to plan how you’re going to get out of there.
Those are the times when it can be hard to believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it can be temping to just numb out with food, alcohol, or mindless evenings spent surfing the Internet or watching bad TV.
So what do you do?
This might sound simplistic but here’s what I suggest when your job makes you want to scream and cry.
Give yourself space to scream.
Give yourself space to cry.
Seriously. Those feelings need to come out. So much of the energy drain comes from keeping them in, trying to distract ourselves from them, or somehow trying to avoid them.
Maybe they come out a little bit when you grumble to your friends or partner or coworkers. Or if you cry in the bathroom at work & then try to pull yourself together so no one will notice that your eyes are red and puffy. (I honestly think I cried at every job I ever had. I had jobs where I’d carry Visine and under eye concealer in my purse just in case).
But what if you REALLY gave those feelings space to come out so you could stop carrying them around all the time?
How to release your feelings
It’s critical to feel safe when you give yourself space to feel your feelings, and a lot of that comes from putting a container around them. What is a container? It just means setting aside some dedicated time and space that has a clear END point.
In other words, sometimes we avoid feeling our feelings because we’re scared there will be no end to them and they’ll become too overwhelming.
Or maybe we just don’t stop to honor their importance. You might, like I used to, tell yourself that you just don’t have time to feel sad or angry.
Many of us also have a tendency to intellectualize our feelings. We talk ABOUT them but we don’t let ourselves really FEEL them.
But like I said, feelings are real and important. And when we don’t create space to feel them, we carry them around with us. They’re there under the surface whether we try to ignore them or not.
As a way to process your emotions, I invite you to spend a few minutes every day for the next 7 days on this exercise (which I credit to my mentor Kate Courageous, who first introduced me to it). If you’re feeling both anger and sadness, I recommend alternating days. In other words, on one day you’d focus on anger & then on the next day you’d focus on sadness and so on.
Here’s what you do:
1) Find a private space: If it’s hard to find a time when you’re home alone or if you don’t want the neighbors to hear you, try your car. I’ve done this exercise plenty of times in the comfort and safety of my own garage. Just make sure you’re parked somewhere safe and, of course, definitely don’t attempt this while driving!
2) Set a timer for 3 minutes
3) NOW, use that 3 minutes to let out all of that anger OR sadness (remember, you’re just focusing on ONE). If you’re focusing on anger, yell those things you wish you could say to your boss or whoever really pissed you off, throw your fists in the air, scream into a pillow. Do whatever you need to do to really tap into that anger & get it out. Really go for it. Force yourself to remember the things that have made you the angriest so you can really feel the full force of your anger. The sky is the limit – you can think about ANYTHING that makes you angry, whether it’s work related or not. The point is to just really feel your anger. Or, if you’re focusing on sadness, force yourself to think about all the things that make you really sad. Try to really FEEL the sadness. Cry if that comes up. Let yourself really cry without holding back.
Whichever emotion you’re feeling, keep at it for the FULL 3 minutes.
4) STOP. Set your timer again for 1 minute
5) Laugh. That’s right, I want you to laugh for one full minute. Even if it feels forced and fake (it probably will initially. In fact, I would be surprised if it didn’t). Just keep laughing. If you can think of funny things that make your laugh feel more real, do that. If not, just force yourself to fake laugh & really get into it. Slap your knee, throw your head back. Do the things you’d do if you were laughing so hard you were about to cry.
6) After your minute of laughter is up, take some deep breaths and, when you feel ready, go on about your day.
I challenge you to try this practice every day for 7 days straight & just start to notice how you feel.
What happens when you start to create space to really feel your feelings?
What feels different in your body when you start to let some of these feelings go?
What do you notice shifting in terms of your perspective or your mood or your interactions with others after implementing this practice for a dedicated period of time?
Fill out the form below to get my Five Simple Ways to Find Work That Feeds Your Soul plus weekly tips from me.