I recently had a conversation with an individual I know about how her life is unfolding these days. Short answer: “Not so well.” Hmmm. I was curious. I then asked, “Going forward, if this week were typical of next week, and the next week, and the week after that, and the next six months, the next year and five years after that, would it be OK?” She instinctively reacted: “No, of course not!” – her words, affect and body language communicating flavors of resentment, frustration, and muted rage. When I asked if she’s doing anything about the state of her life, about possibly moving forward, she responded with a “Well, you play with the hand you’re dealt” attitude, feeling the victim – intimating she’s too flooded by victimization consciousness to take time to stand back, reflect, take a larger perspective or do anything constructive about changing.
Julia (not her real name), a successful professional woman, spouse and mother is basically unhappy – stressed out by her work, by her relationship, by her children, by the uncertainty of the economy, by the state of her physical health and her social life. Nothing seems to be “working” as she phrased it. When I asked, “Why not?” she thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know; I just don’t have time to get my life together.” That’s when I asked the “Well, if this week is typical…” question.
So, what about you? How are you showing up in your life – not just life at work, but life at home, life in relationship, and life at play?
“Presenteeism” is a term used most often to describe a form of “disengagement-with-life” type of fog with which many folks show up in life. The reality is lots of folks are exhibiting presenteeism in just about every aspect of their life. They are mental, physical, and emotional wrecks to some degree – a larger, not smaller, degree. Many folks are not doing justice to their work, their spouse/partner, their children, their friends, or their own self because they’re suffering from presenteeism.
Being the victim
Because many folks are (re)acting as the victim, and begrudgingly living life from the “hand they are dealt” perspective, and choosing not to be proactive about changing their life or lifestyle, they are experiencing stress, overwhelm, depression, confusion, anger and unhappiness manifested in self-destructive life habits – lack of sleep, poor diet, workaholism, overeating/drinking, sickness, disease, dis-ease, lack of exercise, estrangement from family members (even while living in the same space), being abusive, argumentative, resistant and resentful. In addition, many have concocted “stories” to justify why they can’t move off the dime. And thus their “insanity” continues – you know, doing the same thing the same way, over and over again and expecting different results each time.
So, is this a good time to explore your possible relationship with presenteeism, with your own “insane” way of dealing with your life, with change and with the stories you use to justify and rationalize why you are where you are. And in this self-reflective mode, here are some considerations that might support your journey forward so that the “next week” and the “next week etc. might not be carbon copies of this week or last week.
How is your relationship with your work? Why do you do what you do? What attitudes (and related behaviors) do you bring with you to your workplace? Do these attitudes support your well-being? Do you find meaning in your work – even in the mundane (hint: it’s possible)? Are you engaged at work, passionate, challenged, unhappy or overwhelmed? Would you do this work even if you weren’t paid? What do you like about your work (place)? How do you justify doing work you don’t like?
What’s your relationship with your family like? Is the value of family (“being the most important thing in my life”) manifested by the daily “reality” of how you relate to your family? Is there a disconnect? Are you satisfied with your relationship with your spouse or partner, with your children? What about real connection and intimacy? Is something missing? What about your relationship with your parents, sisters or brothers? How’s that working? Is your relationship with your family “this week” exactly what you would like it to be in the weeks, months and years ahead? How do you rationalize and justify unhappy and unfulfilled relationships that you allow to continue? Do you allow your job (and for that matter, Smartphone) to keep you from your family (that “most important thing in my life”)?
How well do you take care of yourself? And what rationalizations, stories and justifications do you use for not taking care of yourself? How do you explain neglecting your health to your spouse/partner and children? If you became disabled tomorrow, how would that affect your family and others who care about you? Are you a good role model for others in the way you deal with your health? Would you urge your spouse/partner and children to follow your health patterns?
Are you a friend to your friends? Or are they more the friend and you the recipient of their friendship? Do you take more than you give? Are friends important to you? How do they know? Do you subjugate friendship to a low priority, even though friendship is important? What rationalizations, stories and justifications do you use for doing so? If you have no friends, what is that about? Are your friendships consistently superficial or are they continually ripening and deepening? Do you have true and real friends at work? Are most of your friends “Internet friends?”
Are you happy? Honestly – tell the truth. Do you experience joy in your life? And never mind the “it’s all relative” or “compared to whom/what” retort.” You know if you are; you know if you aren’t. It’s about the truth. Are you settling? Are you resigned? Are you OK with your level of happiness? Do you know how to achieve true and real happiness? If you’re not happy (however you define it, what justifications, stories and rationalizations do you use to explain your level of happiness? Is your level of happiness “this week” exactly what you would like it to be in the weeks, months and years ahead? Is happiness in the foreground or background for you? Why? What brings you joy?
So, this week is last week’s “next week.” If you decided last week, or some earlier week, to make changes in your life “next week” (the euphemistic phrasing for this is “when it’s the (so-called) right time”), how has this week been? Effected any changes yet? Waiting for another “right time?” Waiting until “next week?”
We all know the “right time” never comes and if/when it does, it’s not the “right time” we’re expecting.
Remember, when nothing changes, nothing changes. Groundhog day, Groundhog week – each wrapped in presenteeism. Is that what you’re choosing? If so, why?
Some questions for self-reflection:
- If last week or this week were typical of next week, the week after and the week after that, and every week for the next six months, every week for the next two years, would that be OK with you? If not, why not?
- What one or two baby steps can you take this week, to move in the direction of having “next week” be truly different from “this week?” How so?
- What has to happen, or not happen, for you to take a first step towards change?
- What conversation(s) do you need to have in order to move forward?
- Resistance to change is based on fear – 99.9% of the time. What are you afraid of? Be honest and tell the truth. Who or what can help you move through your fear, your procrastination or your stuckness?
- How did you and your family deal with change when you were growing up? How so?
(c) 2019, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.
What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.