Written By: Adrianne Reiners
“The only option I have left is to check myself in for a grippy sock vacation,” I informed my manager after spending six months rigorously advocating for myself.
I had done mental gymnastics to figure out what was wrong with me. I had joined a workplace that didn’t seem to practice what they preached and toxic positivity and gaslighting were running rampant. But I didn’t realize it until I was in too deep. I thought I was just bad at doing the things they advised, like ‘doing less’ or ‘saying no’.
I was doing the work of multiple roles and doing it well. Various department leaders and peers agreed that I didn’t have the right title and that my department assignment didn’t seem to make sense.
“Write the job description you think you should have,” they said.
So I did. Three separate times for three separate leaders. And each time, nothing came from it except praise for the work I was doing and empty promises to look into it further.
I began spiraling into gaslighting myself.
I can always be more concise. I bet I went on too long and included too many details and that’s why there’s been no forward progress.
I probably didn't show up as my most positive self in that conversation. I can be more positive and only speak about silver linings.
I must not have outlined the impacts in enough detail. I can create an entirely new slide deck with the content in a different format so it’s more easily absorbed.
They gave me an award . . . so what am I not understanding about why they haven’t provided me with clarity?
Eventually, I stopped saying positive things to myself, and the ‘shoulds’ took up residence in my mind.
I should be more grateful.
I shouldn’t speak up as much.
I shouldn’t argue over someone taking credit for my work.
I shouldn’t be so passionate.
And with that, my mental and physical health were in a sharp and rapid decline. I was intoxicating myself every night just to shut my brain off. I stopped doing things that brought me joy and I ate more frozen chicken nuggets and patties that season of my life than I care to admit.
If I could roll back the clock or break the fabric of space and time, I’d have a cup of coffee with my younger self and give her some advice.
The wound isn’t your fault, boo.
So many of us were set up with the expectation that production = success.
The depths of the mental pathways that were carved in our brains to believe this is beyond measure. It’s not your fault that the world we live in is driven by the concept of ‘more’. It IS your responsibility to do the work and heal. It’s always easier said than done, but here are a few steps to get started if you’re approaching this without a therapist:
Step 1: Take an inventory of the number of times a day you feel prompted to cry (or scream). Step 2: Create quiet time and space to think about WHY you feel that way.
Step 3: Give yourself some compassion and love while validating those feelings.
Step 4: Take some time to think about how you want to show up for yourself and move forward. A business will always watch out for the business. At the end of the day, no matter what else is going on in the world, the business will always look out for itself. Period.
Do yourself a favor and recognize that your life is your business and begin to prioritize it as such.
Step 1: Review the number of hours you have in a day (or week) and what fills those hours. Work, sleep, eating, and hygiene should all have time allotted to them.
Step 2: Determine what you want to do with your extra hours.
Step 3: Make a plan to go after what you want.
Trust your gut. You’re not crazy.
You’re not being ridiculous.
You’re not too much.
Stop questioning yourself and trying to fit into other people’s expectations of who you should be.
Step 1: If the thought contains a “should”, ignore it.
Step 2: Find ways to provide yourself with the affirmation you’re not getting externally.
Let them underestimate you.
Let them think you aren’t capable.
Let them believe you’re too much.
Then show up for yourself and prove them wrong. It’s not about them, pal.
It’s about YOU.
Remember, it’s your life so it’s your business and if they want to have opinions about that, that’s their business. Choose growth, not grudges.
You’re welcome to be angry and hold that grudge, but that’s going to cost you. Feelings are energy. And if you’re busy holding that grudge, you’re not spending that energy on yourself.
There’s always something to learn in these situations. Whether it’s the threshold for your workload, patience for people who don’t know any better, or tolerance for someone's poor communication methods, you’re learning the edges of your boundaries along the way.
Step 1: Sit with your feelings and let them exist.
Step 2: Acknowledge that the feelings existed and let them go.
Step 3: Take what serves you and leave the rest behind.
Show up for yourself.
You are so much stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for. You WILL figure it out.
Step 1: Acknowledge you’re not happy and need to make a change.
Step 2: Accept that only YOU can make that change happen.
Step 3: Make a plan for when you’ll look for the next thing.
Step 4: Work the plan and pivot when needed.
You’ve got this.
I believe in you and I invite you to believe in yourself too.
Meet the Author
Adrianne Reiners is a chicken-raising, hobby farm-building, operational generalist living in the forest of northern Minnesota. Her self-proclaimed tagline, "I didn't spend thousands in therapy to be silent," is what fuels her vulnerability - an effort to help others to be encouraged to live life as their true and authentic self.