Coping strategies

What to do when people make you feel inadequate

Work environments are sometimes the hardest places to be a human. As a human we are imperfect and still growing and we do make the occasional mistake. Making these mistakes in the workplace though, sometimes lead to harsh judgment and critique.

There may be people who will make you feel inadequate for the job at hand. How do you bridge this?

  1. Always remember that everybody is allowed an opinion, but like the old Facebook wisdom rings: A lion isn’t concerned with the opinions of a lamb. See yourself as that lion.
  2. In the morning, or at night before bed, open an empty document on your computer and type at least 5 positive, building affirmations about yourself. I am more than capable. My work is always done to the best of my ability. I am reminded daily of how hard I work. I have 10 years of experience in my field. I am at a senior level for a reason.
  3. Think a little longer about your replies to scrutiny. Sometimes no reply is better than a snippy one.
  4. Remember that nobody can steel your worth. You are worth more than the sum of your mistakes. If that were true, everybody would have to be taken down a notch or two.
  5. If it’s making your life miserable, don’t be afraid to let go. You still have a choice to endure or to get up and leave. Don’t ever feel obligated to keep yourself in a situation that is hurting you, through a false sense of loyalty or the like. Know when to remove yourself from poisonous environments. Be your own advocate and fight to stay happy.

One thing you have no control over is the opinions and actions of co-workers. Your only job is to check your own attitude and make sure you aren’t that poisonous co-worker making somebody else’s life miserable. We’re all just normal human beings trying to make it to Friday :-).

Coping strategies

Taking care

Like losing weight, it is important that you tackle taking care of yourself gradually, so as to form habits that will last. Following a diet or making huge changes to your eating and exercise plans might mean that in a short while you will give up. When I started losing weight I made little changes at a time until they were part of my routine. This way I ended up making a lifestyle change that lasted and today I look back on a much healthier way of living.

Now I stand at the beginning of another lifestyle change: being a 21st century human, I don’t take care of myself as well as I maybe should. To be honest right now I wake up tired, have a headache almost 90% of the time, skip meals when work gets in the way, work way too many hours and I can keep adding to the list until the cows come home. So I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I’m going to start with small changes until they are part of my thought process and decision making patterns.

How can I start small? Well, I know I respond well to touch, soft words, love and care. So I decided to start by washing my face every night (not just make-up wiping it with wet cloths) in warm water and always following my baths with a lotion massage. This will be my small change. Once I got this down I’ll post again to say what my next change will be. I feel strangely excited about all of it. For the first time in 35 years I’m going to give my body the rest and love it deserves. It’s going to change my world!

If you wake up tired and feel like you are on auto-pilot most of the time, what about making changes in your routine to remedy that? Don’t be content with just surviving. It doesn’t take a month-long holiday in the Amazon or a full spa-day to fix things. Both are expensive and the spa-day fix is temporary. Make a lasting change one step at a time to give yourself the rest you need. And remember to share your ideas. Yours might be the one idea that helps someone else get out of their rut.

Coping strategies

Handling disappointment

Being disappointed because the coffee is finished and you can’t get your first mug of coffee is not what I’m talking about. It’s falling short of a life-long dream or pushing hard for something you want and just missing it.

Recently I had two huge disappointments: I was passed over for promotion at work and we got another negative pregnancy test. I’ve worked really hard in my career for the pivotal moment when I would finally reach management level. I was so sure it would happen this time, but it didn’t. My husband and I have also been trying to fall pregnant. We will be married 10 years in 2015. I was so sure this time was the one. It absolutely tore me apart when the test came back negative.

So Life handed down the two lemons separated by a month. I’d like to think my reaction was pretty standard: I was in denial, I was angry, I bargained with God, I was depressed and I accepted it. But it didn’t happen in that sequence and it didn’t take a week.

When things that feel huge happen to you, there will be many anecdotes telling you to just get up and go on, become a stronger person from it or to learn from the experience and don’t let it get you down. When you are under the weight of it though, the view is different and you might feel like you have no idea how to even start dealing with the disappointment and/or anger inside.

One thing I want you to remember is that you are human. There is nothing wrong with feeling angry, disappointed or sad. It was a huge knock and you are allowed to take time to absorb it. Just remember this: it does not redefine your worth, it didn’t make you worth less than you were before it happened. You didn’t suddenly become a smaller version of yourself and you should not be beating yourself up because a dream failed. So somebody closed a door in your face. So you have to wait a little longer before it finally happens for you. Just the fact that you are still alive proves that you have the strength to pull through this too.

You lived through birth, you lived through primary school, you made it through your teens (or are making it through your teens), you survive in the corporate jungle every day without being eaten by a Boss-ious-terranicus or trampled on by a herd of bleating employees…you have been through so much in your life. This will not be the thing that breaks you. I know you are stronger than this.

Early last week one of my friends posted on Facebook that she is going through a rough patch. I will tell you now what I told her: I believe that when many bad things accumulate in a short period of time, it is Life’s way of opening a period of miraculous blessings. Life is made up of valleys and hilltops. You are in a valley now, but know that your hilltop is coming. It must. It’s the law of Life.

So chin up and don’t stop fighting and hoping for that big dream to be fulfilled. You are worth it.

Coping strategies

Every-day things I do to relax

The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that I need a daily way to handle even the small stresses, so they don’t accumulate and strangle me eventually. Over the last three months I’ve noted that I naturally started doing things that are pleasurable to me:

  • Baking: I just finished baking a batch of Paleo brownies, recipe thanks to Elana’s Pantry. Love searching for new recipes and enjoying the fruits of it. Elana has a stack of recipes I am definitely going to try.
  • Cooking: Putting a roast in the oven or putting in some extra effort to cook a very deliscious meal for us. We’re only two, but I like feeling like a typical housewife every now and again 🙂
  • Archery: I signed up for classes with my husband almost three months ago now and yesterday was my first “good” lesson. It takes time and concentration and definitely gets my mind off the tight deadlines and pressure of work. It’s also a cool way to spend time with my husband!
  • Studying: I pick a topic and start researching it online, following experts and watching YouTube videos. I might even buy textbooks and signup for a course at a local college.
  • Time out: taking an evening and doing nothing, because as nice as hobbies are and studying enrich your life, sometimes you just need to do absolutely nothing for an evening. On evenings like those hubby and I would stream whatever we feel like or watch one cartoon after another. We’ll eat finger food if  it’s summer or a one-pot meal in winter. Little effort and just time spent together.
  • Painting: it really depends on the kind of stress at work, but if I had a day of meetings or analytic thinking, I like to do something creative after work. Simple acrylic, brushes and canvas or any other platform for painting and Bob’s your uncle!

What do you do to unwind? Do you try to do something every day? Do you like to do it alone or with a special someone?

Coping strategies


My husband and I are watching a Star Trek Voyager episode where Neelix is manipulated by an old friend to do what he wants. The “friend” does it by reminding Neelix of how a “bad person” he used to be and emotionally manipulating him by asking if Neelix would drop an old friend in trouble, that he deserves the same chance at success that Neelix experienced.

All through this I keep on wanting to shake Neelix and tell him: you WORKED to get where you got. It didn’t fall in your lap. You didn’t take shortcuts and through all your hard times, you bettered yourself as a person. Hence your friend being able to say you “USED to be that bad”.

When a person manipulates another, they will invariable push the buttons that will make you feel vulnerable. It may be referring to your old nature, reminding you of a deep fear, playing on your insecurities or even your beliefs.

– What would happen if they find out who you really are. Do you think they’d accept you like I do?
– You call yourself a Christian, but you are willing to let me suffer?
– I see you posted on Facebook about paying for fertility treatments. They are expensive. We don’t have money for power or food till the end of the month.
– You are lucky to have so much in your life. I never got the chances you did.

How do I deal with this?

I know that in the situation of being manipulated, right on the spot, you might fail to understand the situation. It might take a long time and many such instances before you are strong enough to stand up against it.

The most important thing is that you start. Start small. But first, try and understand the following:

  1. You are no less than the next biological, bathroom-using, food-needing person on this planet. We are all just bags of cells that have to perform the same functions to stay alive. Designation, purpose, assignment…none of that gives any other homo sapiens the right to undermine, dominate or manipulate another. In essence, you are worth it.
  2. I almost feel like copying the previous point and pasting it here again. Understand and grasp this: what you think of yourself is a preconception. From today you have one project and that is to become your own best friend. Understand yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. This will help the next time somebody wants to tell you who you are and what you’re worth.
  3. When you have time, replay a previous moment of manipulation, with one change: be in control. Write it down, play it out, however you wish to record it. In the moment of resisting the manipulation, feel the strength and resoluteness you have to stand up against it. Next time it happens, breathe deeply and try to remember how you felt in the exercises.

It won’t be easy and you might still have a few moments after which you will feel that you could have done better…give yourself the time and space to learn. Learning a new skill is not like with Neo in The Matrix, a simple download and “I can do Kung Fu”. It takes time and dedication, but you’ll get there and at the same time you will gain a sense of self-worth. I repeat: you are worth it.

I leave you with one thought: If somebody is pulling you down, remember, they are there to begin with.