January 10, 2017 at 4:39 am #124992
I am having a difficult time this morning, just wanted to write about it and get it out there. I have a job where I am very responsible for a lot of moving parts. For the most part I am very good at it but there are some parts of the job that, if I don’t focus on them, will crash and burn. I liken it to “juggling chainsaws”
I understand these things happen and I can’t be perfect all the time but I have a hard time reporting issues to my boss upfront because I either don’t think to or I don’t want to. This inevitably leads to a barrage of questioning from her later on to figure out what is going on (rightfully so), which always makes me feel horrible and like a failure. I am very fearful of losing my job over mistakes I’ve made because I’m not paying attention. I would not like to be afraid. I would like to just own my mistakes and move on but I take it all so personally and internalize the questioning as criticism which causes me a lot of distress.
Realistically I know that the only way to really lose my job is to lie about something or have a similar integrity violation but I feel like if my boss has to pull answers from me after the fact that’s just as bad as lying, at the very least it’s a little immature and shady. What can I do to conquer my fears and be more upfront?
MJanuary 10, 2017 at 9:03 am #125002
Dear Maria Mango:
You are uncomfortable reporting issues to your boss upfront because it causes you anxiety. But you know that it is to your benefit to do so; that it is the right thing to do. What can you do to conquer this anxiety?
To report issues to your boss uprfront. Notice when there is an issue to report; then notice your anxiety, your distress at the thought of doing so. Then take a few deep breaths, and with your heart beating faster and maybe feeling your body temperature going up, focus on your breathing and do the deed: report. Congratulate yourself every time. Do not beat yourself up for not executing the reporting perfectly. Focus on progress, not perfection.
Then do it again and again. Over time it will become easier.
anitaJanuary 10, 2017 at 10:54 am #125006
Thanks as always, Anita. I’m sure that is the right thing to do and it’s what I’ll keep working towards. I’m just upset with myself because I seem to be sabotaging the success I’ve worked for up until now at this job. Any ideas on how to stop that? I really am on the verge of giving up and just saying that someone else should do the job because they would do it better than me. If you can’t tell I’m pretty hard on myself 🙁
Thanks!January 10, 2017 at 11:09 am #125007
Dear Maria Mango:
Yes, I can tell you are pretty hard on yourself- the sad face tells me that as well as your expressions in this thread. Seems like you consider making mistakes, or performing less than perfectly, to mean that you, as a person, are inadequate, unacceptable. It feels so badly, doesn’t it, to feel this way?
So much so that you would rather give up the job than feel inadequate.
But this feeling, this belief that you are unacceptable for performing less than perfectly, that will cause you trouble wherever you go, whatever job you have, almost. So better deal with it in this job and in your current life circumstances.
I think this common misconception that performing less than perfectly indicates being unworthy/ inadequate/ unacceptable has to do with having been punished as a child for such, having been beaten up for such- and that punishment (verbally, if not physically) is something the child-turned-adult keeps inflicting upon herself.
Was that the case with you?
anitaJanuary 10, 2017 at 11:28 am #125008
Yes, for me perfection is a safety mechanism. When I was a kid I was pretty often bullied by peers and family for being different. Growing up I’ve learned that the less mistakes I make the more people will like and accept me, a feeling I never really got as a child or young adult. Now I’ve tied it into my very survival being so far away from home. I tend to get stressed because I feel like if I don’t make it at this job I’ll be out on my ear.January 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm #125012
Dear Maria Mango:
Perfection as a safety mechanism doesn’t work on the long run. It can give you a feeling of safety here and there, keep some jobs ongoing, but it doesn’t work on the long run because we are imperfect, there really is no such thing as perfection, for humans, for anything living (for a machine, there is..?)
You learned that the less mistakes you make the more people will like you and accept you, except for you! Being hard on yourself is like bullying yourself. When you bully yourself, sometimes you avoid others bullying you, but you are still being bullied.
anitaJanuary 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm #125018
You are correct, it is not a great long term strategy as I’m finding out now! It’s kind of
disconcerting to find I’ve internalized the bullies. I don’t want to live my like that.
I guess I’ll really have to keep working towards a new strategy, thanks for your help!January 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm #125020
You are welcome, Maria Mango. There are strategies to slowly, very slowly and patiently externalize that Inner Bully. I’ve been doing this kind of work on myself for a long, long time.
anitaJanuary 11, 2017 at 5:53 am #125043
Hi Maria Mango,
For this particular circumstance it’s good to remember:
1. Your boss is a person, not a monster
2. Your boss is actually on your side.
What does this all mean?
Well, I would talk to her over drinks or outside of the work environment. After a glass of wine tell her exactly what you’ve told us. She’ll “get” that if you make a mistake, you are the type of person who is less likely to let her know, even subconsciously.
And, your boss knows how hard “juggling chainsaws” is and would be loathe to give you up as a new person would probably do worse and have to be trained.