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When Work Related Stress Turns Into Major Life Transition, 2

May 28th, 2018 · work related stress

As we saw in the first part of this post, a work related  major life transition can involve a very great amount of work related stress. 

work related stress

In this part, we’ll look at more at what’s involved in traversing such a transition.  As we will see, such transitions can have an enormous impact on the personal and interpersonal levels, and even on the dimensions of meaning and spirituality. As we saw in Part 1, such major life transitions related to work can emerge from: 
  • Merger or Takeover
  • Change of Leadership
  • Long Distance Moves and Transfers; or,
  • Termination of Work
The effects of such things are often deep and complex, and they are often much more profoundly personal in their impact than you might initially think.  Perhaps surprisingly, there may well be elements of these experiences that give significant opportunities for growth towards wholeness.

Relationships

Work transitions can profoundly impact relationships, both inside and outside the work place.  There are a significant number of employees in workplaces for whom work-related relationships are very significant connections, and work-related stress can lead to profound anxiety and be profoundly disruptive of these relationships.

Work relationships often assume great emotional importance.  We’re familiar with the expression “work spouses” — referring to people in the work environment who often have formed a close, even dependent, relationships.  Any of the events we’re describing can result in disruption of these key relationships, deeply affecting the involved individuals.

When long-standing work relationships fray, or are pulled apart by a changing work environment, individuals may face profound questions about priorities far beyond the workplace, leading right into the heart of life.  Relationship is a fundamental part of what gives life meaning and colour.  When work-related major life transitions disrupt relationships, they raise deep questions about where and how we find meaningful relationship in our lives.

work related stress

Changing Priorities

A profound change in the work environment leads to deep questions around priorities.  It may take us to the question, “What truly is of lasting importance to me?”

For many today, work easily becomes the central priority in life.  Its demands can supercede the importance of key relationships, and the other strongest and greatest values of our lives.  When a work crisis takes on the form of a major life transition, it can call into question the whole set of priorities by which a person lives his or her life.

A work-related major life transition can confront us with deep issues around priorities of meaning and spirituality.  Here I mean not so much organized religion as the whole question of over-arching and transcendent values — what we fundamentally want our lives to stand for and honour.  Viewed in this light, our work as a spiritual endeavour.

Identity

Similarly, fundamental questions of identity can be stirred by work related stress that amounts to a major life transition.  Often at times of deep crisis we’re moved much closer to the central question of “Who am I really?”  This all relates to what Jungians refer to as individuation, defined by Jungian analyst Andrew Samuels as

A person’s becoming [him- or her-]self, whole indivisible and distinct from other people or collective psychology (though also in relation to these).

This may take us into shadow work, examining the parts of the self that the individual would rather not acknowledge.  As an individual goes through a major life transition related to work, she or he may come up against fundamental questions of identity, that take the form of unpacking and recognizing the difference between passive acceptance of who my work role tells me I am, and who I am really.  Jung puts it starkly:

The more [someone’s] life is shaped by the collective norm, the greater is [his or her] individual immorality.

..where we may think of immorality as “not being true to, or living out, my own fundamental and unique identity.”

Individuation and Work Related Stress

In depth psychotherapy, when the individual is in the grip of work-related stress that is intense enough to be regarded as a major life transition, the goal of the work is to create a safe environment or “container” where the individual may examine the impact on his or herself of this momentous transition, and hopefully also begin to sort out and hear the voice of the true self.

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

PHOTOS: Rodrigo Galindez (Creative Commons Licence) ; barbara w (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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When Work Related Stress Turns Into Major Life Transition

May 7th, 2018 · work related stress

Work related stress is part of the day-to-day demands of work.  Yet a work related major life transition combines even greater stress with a huge emotional impact.

work related stress

This is not in any way meant to minimize or dismiss the amount of work related stress stemming from such “everyday” things as strenuous long distance commuting, almost-impossible deadlines, dealing with conflict and office politics, or any of quite a number of other factors.
Yet some stress connected to work stems from a whole other range of factors.  This type of stress involves fundamental life changes related to a person’s work.
In the first part of this post we’ll look at the nature of work-related major life transitions, and in the second part, we’ll examine the personal work of moving through such a process as a part of the journey towards wholeness.

When Work Related Stress Involves Fundamental Life Change

Sometimes the changes brought about in a person’s working life can be so significant that they amount to a basic change in a person’s life and identity.  This can be particularly true for individuals who derive a great deal of their meaning and value from their working lives.  Consider the following examples.

Merger or Takeover.  Consider the individual who has a long and successful career at an organization where the level of responsibility has increased steadily over years of engagement with the firm.  The individual is conscientious and very devoted to work.  He or she has developed a strong network of connections within the organization, and derives his or her identity to a considerable extent from the role in the organization.  When an amalgamation occurs, the structure of the organization can change dramatically.  Often there is a whole new cast of staff, and the mission and business goals of the organization may change out of all recognition.  This may have a profound impact on the individual affected.

Change of Leadership.  Change of organizational leadership can have just as dramatic an effect as a merger or takeover.  It can completely change the character of an organization, and of an individual’s role within it.  If the individual has been largely identified with that role, it can mean that the individual is suddenly struggling to hold onto an identity that once seemed secure, meaningful and unshakable.

Long Distance Moves and Transfers.  When large organizations require their employees to move to a substantial distance, or even internationally or intercontinentally, the work related stress impact can be enormous.  Individuals and their families can be torn out of environments where they felt rooted, and forced to leave supportive communities, networks of relationship and personally meaningful locations behind.  Given that this can occur with regularity for some corporate employees, this can have an enormous cumulative impact.

Work is Terminated.  Once again, if termination occurs to an individual whose identity is largely work-related, it is produces enormous work related stress and is clearly a major life transition.  This is particularly if it occurs to the older employee who might be nearing retirement age.

work related stress

Meaning, Identity and Work Related Stress

These types of work-related major life transition can clearly put a huge focus on questions of personal identity and meaning.  They obviously also create enormous work related stress and anxiety.

Depth psychotherapy recognizes that these issues of meaning, identity and personal connection must be addressed directly to bring healing to the individual.  Yet it recognizes that the individual must often confront strong reactions of anxiety and grief associated with the loss of established identities and roles.

Often, working within the secure container that depth psychotherapy can provide, the individual is able to safely explore his or her own true feelings and reactions in a healing, in-depth way.  Gradually, a renewed and more solid sense of identity and meaning emerges as the individual moves through such major life transitions.

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

PHOTOS: Oscar Rohena (Creative Commons Licence) ; WOCinTech Chat (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Individuation, Individual Therapy & Work Related Stress

March 5th, 2012 · individual therapy, Individuation, stress, therapy, work, work related stress

individual therapy

People expect work related stress to be a subject for individual therapy, but think less commonly about work and individuation — especially for today’s pressurized workers.  Individuation is the term Jung used to describe “the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.”  Particularly in the last 10 – 15 years, as anxiety has crept more and more into the work place, the experience of work for many people may seem to be about anything but genuine individual development.

Yet… Something in Us Seeks Wholeness — Even at Work

For Jung, the human psyche is always in process, seeking to bring all the parts of our self into relatedness with each other.  Even at our work.  In our work experience, with specific tasks, co-workers, clients, etc., some aspect of our self is confronting us, trying to come into awareness.  There’s truth about ourselves that we need to take in — even in work related stress.

Vocation — What if It’s Not Just a Word?

Vocation can be overly spiritualized and dramatized, or trivialized, as in the so-called “vocational test”.  But what if there actually is something specific that life and my own nature has suited me to do?  That may be a matter of the job I do, or a vocation that I live out over and above my job.

Connecting Point recorded archetypal psychologist Jame Hillman on the subject of “What is Your Calling?”

Work Related Stress: Message from My Deep Self?

The fundamental question for individual therapy is, “What does my work stress tell me about my true self?”  Perhaps in relation to fellow workers?  Or about my trouble with saying “No” or setting boundaries?  Or the ways that I have been kidding myself about the type of work that suits me, or about my own true abilities or inclinations?  Or maybe my own deepest motivations, or compulsive need for success or status?  Or my driven-ness or workaholism as avoidance of life?  Or my fear to move on?

The Shadow in Working Life

My work may express who I really am, and allow me to give from my deepest self to the world.  Alternately, it might be that I’m really alienated from myself at work, unable to show anyone who I really am or what I really care about, and that this disconnect is a real source of work related stress.

If shadow is the unacknowledged part of the self, what is in your shadow that concerns work?

PHOTOS:  © Maria Paula Coelho | Dreamstime.com
 © 2012 Brian Collinson

 

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Psychotherapy for Work Related Stress: 4 Realities

October 20th, 2011 · stress, work, work related stress

work related stress

Psychotherapy for work related stress is increasingly essential for many people.  In our present era of privation and job uncertainty, it is abundantly apparent that work stress has more than purely psychological consequences, and deeply impacts the physical well-being of workers — for stress is a mind-body phenomenon.  A recent article from the Manchester Guardian on a report on a U.K. survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  shows that worries about job losses have caused stress to become the most common cause of long-term sick leave in Britain.

Now, these statistics are for the U.K.  Is it similar in North America?  The fact is, it is similar enough.

Here are 4 factors pointing to the urgency of finding ways to address work related stress.

1. Work Related Stress Can be a Personal Crisis

Stress related to work accumulates in ways that cause emotional damage to workers.  In particular, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that continued anxiety over job loss is even more damaging emotionally than actual job loss.

2. Self Esteem is Involved

When dealing with something as fundamental as work identity, continual anxiety about job loss can easily engender endless anxiety about the self.  The question of self-esteem can be relentless for someone dealing with these issues.

3. Work-Related Stress Can Bring Serious Illness

In a similar way, serious stress can and does lead to serious illness.  Stress reduction research has clearly established the connection to coronary disease, ulcers and many other  illnesses.  It’s essential for the individual facing such stress to avoid these extremely negative consequences.

4. There are Deep Questions Within Work Stress

Work stress opens up questions that we would rather not face.  The most fundamental of these are around resilience in the face of great fear and stress, and also around maintaining a sense of abiding personal identity, in the face of grave assaults on personal dignity, our sense of ability to control our lives, and our self worth.  It is in these areas that psychotherapy can have the greatest and most lasting effect.  The particular message of Jungian psychotherapy, that the Self is something greater and more lasting than the ego, and is drawing us towards a meaningful wholeness that we cannot fully anticipate, can be something that is essential for us to experience in our turbulent and demanding times.

PHOTO:  Copyright  All rights reserved by herr klamm
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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4 Benefits of Psychotherapy for Work Related Stress

April 25th, 2011 · psychotherapy for work related stress, stress, work related stress

work related stress

Why would someone get psychotherapy for work related stress?  There are a variety of reasons, but a key consideration is that the stress of work is often so consuming that it involves the whole person.  Because it is concerned with healing for the whole person, psychotherapy can often be the most effective way to deal with problems concerning personal growth and work.

Four principal benefits that come through psychotherapy for work-related stress are the following.

1.  Talking with Someone Outside Your Situation Can be Vital

It can be essential to speak to someone who is outside your situation to gain some perspective on your work situation, and how all the stress and emotional factors are affecting you.  Someone who is objective, but who can truly listen and be emotionally attuned, like a depth psychotherapist, can be invaluable.

2.  “Hanging onto Yourself” Makes a Huge Difference

Staying in a place where you are not overwhelmed by emotional or stress factors at work can be vital.  To gain real insight and help in dealing with potentially overpowering emotional factors can make a great deal of difference for “getting through”.

3.  Work Related & Personal Stress Amplify Each Other

Often important personal issues can affect the stress loading at work, and work stress can complicate personal life and relationships.  Good psychotherapy creates an environment where you can understand all the separate factors, and begin to deal with each of them in the way you really want and need.

4.  Connecting Work to the Direction & Meaning of Your Life

Work is a part of life, but it isn’t the whole thing.  Work can be fulfilling, but the whole person, the Self, needs more than just work.  Depth psychotherapy focuses on the needs of the whole person, conscious and unconscious, and how a person’s work fits together with, and emerges from, the needs of the deepest personality.  This is an exploration that many people need to make for a meaningful life.

How Does Your Work Relate to Your Deepest Self?

What do you want and need from your work life?  Is the stress that your work produces interfering with your sense of well-being, and keeping you from a fulfilling life?  Psychotherapy can open up the way to healing and meaningful connection of your work life with your life as a complete person.

Wishing you the satisfaction of meaningful, balanced work on your journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO CREDIT:  © ShashiBellamkonda

© 2011 Brian Collinson

Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)

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