There is a really great job opportunity being posted on a couple of websites in my city right now. It’s the same job title I currently have, along with all of the same types of tasks. It looks like it was written for me.
Oh wait. It is written for me. Except it’s not.
My employer has placed an ad for my job.
Of course, the moment I saw it, my heart dropped. It was not like I was entirely surprised by this; to be honest, I’d been searching my work’s company name on various career websites to see if they’d ever post some kind of ad like this. So on some level, I knew and expected it.
But I certainly was not actually prepared for this. I felt a panic attack coming on. I felt sick to my stomach and my mind began to race. I can recognize it as my Ego saying “THEY WANT TO REPLACE YOU, THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU, AND THEY ARE TRYING TO WEED YOU OUT.” Yes, my Ego talks in all-caps.
But that’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking. That they want me out.
I immediately texted my Work BFF with the link. She is often the one who actually posts job ads for our company, but she had no idea this had been posted. It must have been my boss who did it himself.
As I walked downstairs to tell Boyfriend, I tried really, really hard to remember what my psychologist had told me. She’d gotten me to write down some simple steps in my phone about what to do when I felt a panic attack coming on, or basically whenever I felt I was going to combat.
But the problem is, when I’m defence mode, I am not able to contemplate much else. I was already vaguely aware of other reasons why my boss might have posted the job, but it didn’t matter. My anxiety was telling me it was because they want me out, and it didn’t want to consider any other reasons.
Boyfriend calmed me down. He made sure I could see that maybe my boss has other innocent reasons for posting the ad. They need to replace me because I have a big job. They legally cannot deny me my job when I am ready to return (although they could fire me and offer a severance I guess), because I am on medical leave. It’s not like I quit.
This helped a little. But I was still struggling to find that rational thought process my therapist had gone over with me. I wanted to put that plan into action and try to make it work.
But I was at a loss – not only was it not really ingrained in my memory, but my Ego was so hell bent on being right about them wanting me out, that my Ego was arguing my side instead of trying to take a step back and look at things objectively.
I went back upstairs, and Work BFF called me to talk it over. She offered very similar advice, and after we chatted for a while, I did start to feel better. She suggested that I write my boss an email setting out a plan. He has no idea where my head is at, and the fact that he is not approaching me about things, although it totally sucks, doesn’t mean he is not supportive or doesn’t care. He probably sees me as fragile and is not comfortable with it.
So I did pen an email. I tried to make it as honest and real as possible. I did not write as though I were a computer (I tend to be very formal and use, as Work BFF puts it, ‘big words’ in my letters and emails) so that I would come off as a person. I had her review it, and I am going to send it to him on Monday morning so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Meanwhile, I am studying my little cheat sheet for how to handle my panic attacks. It is difficult work. It’s not easy.
Here is an overview of what I need to do. I haven’t really gotten down to business yet. After I wrote the email, I went into hibernation and napped for a couple of hours, then continued to avoid everything until now. Since writing is one of the best ways I can express myself, and really explore things, I may as well do it here and now.
- Ask myself: how can I see this differently? What am I blind to?
This should slow things down, and shift my focus. The goal is to look at things from a bigger place. But I find it near impossible when my Ego has made up my mind and things feel black & white.
But in this situation – My Ego is blind to any other result except the one he’s come up with. I could see things differently by looking at it from my boss’ perspective, or really, any outsider’s point of view.
- What feelings are here?
My next step is to recognize my feelings as things that are not a part of me – they are just something that I am experiencing. That’s also really hard to do when you are all revved up. My therapist said it’s important not to say “I am sad,” for example, but rather “I am feeling sad” or “sadness is here.” This way, it’s easier to think of the feelings as passing clouds. They aren’t me.
Today, I was experiencing fear. Fear was telling me that I wasn’t wanted, that I was out of options, that I was not in control.
- Is what Fear says true?
I need to think about whether Fear is really all-powerful and right about everything. It’s Fear that is doing the talking and making the decisions (along with my unwanted BFF Anxiety). But does Fear really know the absolute truth?
No, not necessarily. I have no way of knowing for certain, but I can say it’s possible that Fear is wrong. Or, at a minimum, it’s only half-true.
Perhaps my boss does want me out. Maybe he doesn’t. But that doesn’t matter: I still have control over how I react and what my next steps are. I still have options, I am still a great employee, and there are 100s of other job opportunities out there for me.
- What IS true?
It’s important to keep my Ego in check.
This is just a circumstance. The opposite of fear, in this case, is honesty, safety, and most of all Trust.
- If I look at things from the feeling of Trust, what would I be thinking? Feeling? Doing?
This is to help me realize that there are certainly other viewpoints, and those viewpoints are not coming from scary, pessimistic, negative places.
If I felt safe and trusting, I would be thinking that my boss is just covering his butt. He needs to solve the short-term problem of needing more support in the office while I am away. And if Trust really has an opinion, it’s that he has recognized that I needed help (I had, after all, asked for an assistant in our department in the past). Maybe he can finally see the gap I left, and needed to fill it, and also realizes that if I get hit by a bus, they need someone who can take over. They need someone who can take over even if I’m just on vacation, honestly. Maybe this person isn’t a replacement, but rather an addition.
- Finally, I need to remember the following. The Self is the one who needs to be doing the talking.
I trust myself. I belong, and I’m wanted. I’m a good employee and I’m useful.
Those make me feel confident, open, and receptive. I feel more physically relaxed when I am experiencing those feelings of openness. I can take my time, and I have a choice.
I am still struggling with truly feelings the feelings of safety and trust. On paper, it makes sense. I can write all of that out and it doesn’t really have any holes in it. But it’s difficult to truly realign myself to that thought process.
I think that next time something similar happens, I am going to take out a sheet of paper and write things out. If I do this over and over, even for the small stuff, I will be better at it, and can turn it into an automatic response over time.
Hopefully, I will learn to quiet my Ego and think with my Self.