Intuitive working: moving past messy mental muck

Many times in my life, after I have consciously decided to make a change in how I behave, my initial thoughts have had a flavor of strong backlash. This experiment with intuitive working (here and here) has been no different:

“This proves that I’m inherently lazy.”
“I’m not honoring my contract.”
“I’ll never be able to focus at work.”
“I’m too sensitive to make it through a full eight-hour day.”
“I’m ultimately not hirable.”
“Now everyone’s going to know I’m not a good grad student.”

Even before writing these thoughts down like this, I had a hunch that I was being a little overdramatic. And I also had a hunch from the beginning that these ideas would come up. When we make a positive change, it can be a change that is quite different from how we’ve behaved for so long. And change is scary. The unknown is scary. Even when we intend to change for the better.

Maybe this is the time to mention to whoever reads my little musings that 1) I’ve dedicated myself to introspective work with a therapist since last May, and that 2) I recently started taking a medication for generalized anxiety disorder and for depression. I bring up these endeavors because 1) I have a strong desire to de-stigmatize mental illness and industrial medication designed for those illnesses, and 2) the healing that has come from the therapy and the medicine has prepped my brain to compassionately embrace the negative thoughts that have arisen regarding how I view myself as a worker.

This is how I’m choosing to approach each mental blurt:

“This proves that I’m inherently lazy.”
“No one who is even remotely close to me would say I’m lazy. I am productive throughout all my waking hours. Even when I relax to read it’s with some incredibly intelligent book or some elevated political opinion piece in The New Yorker.”

“I’m not honoring my contract.”
“I signed a contract stating I would be paid for 20 hours a week of work. I work around 20 hours a week. The end.”

“I’ll never be able to focus at work.”
“This statement sounds self-defeatist and a little whiny; not interested!” *Waving sassy finger back and forth in front of face*

“I’m too sensitive to make it through a full eight-hour day.”
“If I find a job with a supervisor that expects me to work a full eight-hour day, I can do it. And maybe I’ll find a job that doesn’t have traditional eight-hour work days and receive a luxurious paycheck anyway.”

“I’m ultimately not hirable.”
“Uh, since when have I not been hired? Literally never.”

“Now everyone’s going to know I’m not a good grad student.”
“One: who cares? Two: I am a good grad student.”

So, my personal style of letting the steam out of this mental backlash is with humor, with sass, and with facts. I find this to be an incredibly potent tonic to shitty thoughts.

Now I return to my thesis.

Also, for anyone reading this who struggles with anxiety and/or depression, you are not alone and there is help. Seek help, whether it’s yoga, therapy, or medication (p.s. People who eat organic food and have hip nature tattoos take conventional anti-depressants). Special thanks to my dear friend Sara for encouraging me to try medication.

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