The Work Trap

What can you do when prosperity and success actually make you feel worse?

We’re taught to work hard if we want to get ahead in life; it’s part of our culture. But what if you find yourself working hard at something you love and you’re getting results, but you’re not happy? Everything in your life seems to be working out on paper, but there is something ‘missing’. Something feels ‘not right’. What’s the answer? You’ve probably tried to fix things by doing what you know – work harder. And when you do, you get more praise and better results. On paper, you put yourself in an even better position than you were previously. Nevertheless, you’re still no happier. If anything, you might actually be feeling worse than before.

It’s important to realise that you can change things without becoming less productive. You have the strength of character and discipline that allow you to make a success out of what you do; that makes you a strong and resilient person. The problem is that you know only one way to use your strengths, which is to work harder. It’s a bit like having only one tool in your toolbox: even if it is a top-quality tool, it is not going to be useful for all jobs.

The chances are that you are good at thinking about problems and coming up with practical solutions. Unfortunately, this means that you’re probably missing out on a very valuable, useful and powerful source of information – your emotional reactions to things, both good and bad. Recognising, acknowledging and valuing the information available to you via your emotions often requires only a few changes in your life. The results can be life-changing. When people learn to process their emotions, they often find that they are happier, more balanced and more productive in important areas of their lives, such as work, family and friendships.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “But I’m not really an emotional person”. I disagree with you. Everyone has emotions, but some of us learn to discount them as unimportant. In our culture, being ‘emotional’ is often seen as being weak, unstable and associated with bad feelings. Again, I disagree. Being ‘emotional’ means recognising, acknowledging and accepting all your emotions, both the positive and the negative. When you do this, you expand your self-awareness and yourself a more varied toolbox for dealing with the problems that life throws at you.

Counselling can help you to discover how to expand your self-awareness. You may need as few as six sessions to discover new tools for daily living, which can serve you well for many years to come.

10th April 2015