Q. I’m going through a divorce and notice my attitude toward the human race sucks. I’m afraid my general dislike of most animals on two legs will poison my work. My boss says I’m doing great but I feel demoralized. Any suggestions?
A. Yes, realize that since telepathy is absent in the general population most “animals on two legs” will only notice your behavior. Many people worry needlessly about their “attitude” ruining their lives without knowing that, as long as you behave well, you can feel any way you want without negative consequences.
Feelings are a lot like weather. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s sunny, and sometimes a storms blows through. Feelings are based on complicated biological chemistry that is not within the conscious control of your mind. You can deny your feelings, you can chant affirmations and practice positive thinking, and at the end of the day still feel crummy.
Obviously, if your mood sinks and stays low, there are psychiatrists. Obviously, eating decently, sleeping enough and exercising can be useful. Still, trying to change your biology is a tall order.
Instead of fretting that your career will sink, along with your attitude, realize that our bodies are part of nature. Sometimes the tide is coming in and we have energy and optimism. Sometimes the tide is going out and we stare at the ceiling unmotivated to even watch the paint peel.
Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful periods in an adult’s life. To expect to be performing optimally right now would be cruel at best and delusional at worst.
Instead, lower your bar and take comfort in the fact that people can’t read your mind. Identify the bottom behavioral bar you need to hit so you don’t get fired and aim for that right now.
When the tide goes out in our life, wise professionals do what needs to be done to maintain what they’ve built. They do not expect to do it gleefully or hit new performance highs, no matter how much caffeine they drink.
Take comfort as well that what goes down … must come up. By taking the time to grieve and let go of your past, you’ll find you have new reserves when the tide and your future opportunities come back in.
Q. There are several women in my office who always dress beautifully. We just went through sexual harassment training, and I’m afraid to even compliment a coworker. I’m happily married and don’t want to be misunderstood. Are compliments a thing of the past?
A. Sincere compliments are always politically correct. Just remember there’s a world of difference between, “You’re hot!” and “That color is great on you!”
Daneen Skube, Ph.D. speaker, executive coach, trainer and psychotherapist can be reached at 1420 NW Gilman Blvd, #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027 by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. © 2005 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.