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New Year: 4 Tips for Dealing with Stress in the Workplace, Pt 2

January 19th, 2015 · No Comments · stress in the workplace

In my last post, we examined some central insights related to dealing with stress in the workplace; in this post we look at some key insights concerning our particular individual identity and workplace stress.

dealing with workplace stress

In Part 1 of this post we saw how our complexes and our shadow can impact our relationship to work.  Now we look at work much more closely in the light of who we really are.

I am Not My Work…

stress in the workplace

One of the biggest difficulties for many people in our age and culture is to become conscious of the fact that the work role is truly not one’s personal identity.

We all need a social mask and a pattern of response to our work environment to maintain appropriate boundaries and the integrity and solidity of the self in the work place.  It keeps us from losing our identity at work, and is what Jungians would call a work persona.

Yet the individual may become so actively identified with the work role as to have no real awareness of individual identity beyond work  He or she runs the risk of becoming lost to the things that really make her or him who they are.  Such identification opens up the floodgates to potential stress, because any sense of self-worth or self-esteem comes to hang completely on success or failure at work.  We haven’t even mentioned job loss or retirement: to such a work-identified individual, it can feel literally like complete loss of identity and social death.

A variant of this theme, common in our time, occurs when an individual has so much demand and so many out of control expectations thrust upon them by the work place, that they literally have no time to think about or do anything personally meaningful, other than work.  The individual doesn’t choose to be identified with work: rather, he or she is thrust so deeply into the demand of work that there is no psychological space or energy for any other identity than the work role.

In either situation, however hard it is, the individual needs to get out from under the work role, and discover his or her fundamental identity.  The stress burden is overwhelming, and the self is at stake.

…And My Ultimate Vocation is to be Myself

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

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© 2014 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)