Work Stress and the Empath
Remember when you first started your job? The excitement of starting something new. How in love you felt with this new adventure and happy you were to be there every day. Then eventually a few years later there seems to be an internal shift away from these feelings. The feelings of happiness and security fade and you try to get it back by making the coworkers and bosses happiness your top priority. You start to feel overloaded and irritated as you try to manage the feelings and emotions of others around you by offering yourself to ease their workload.
Now, everything that seems to go wrong ends up in your lap as it starts to turn into the office dumping ground. It feels as if though co-workers are asking you constantly to help with parts of their jobs and while you struggle to get everything handled from fixing other people's mistakes, trying to do your own job all on top of helping the helpless out it, starts to seem as if you can never catch up. What adds on to that pressure is when those people you are fixing mistakes for and helping accomplish their projects for, all seem to be all just sitting around having a cup of coffee and chatting about their weekend happily, all while you work through your lunch. Now you're angry, tiered and frustrated daily. You cringe at the site of the front door into work and dread your day wondering constantly what more you can offer this place besides your own blood. You may explode at the boss, become irritably silent and everyone knows they need to tread lightly around you or that work they put off on you will never get accomplished.
This is the down fall of the empath. Empaths are natural fixers and we always strive to help others. We give one hundred and ten percent of ourselves to something we love and no matter how it treats us we remain loyal in the hopes that our hard work will make people change. If someone needs help, we are the first to offer our services. If something needs to be handled, we are happy to take it on just to ease the workload of another person so they can feel loved and happy. We can become the sounding board for our bosses. When something goes wrong, we are the first to hear about it. Why? It's not that he is blaming us for the problems, but we are a natural absorber of negative energy. Once he vents, he feels so much better, hell he may even buy the office lunch he is so happy, but like always after that encounter you feel worse as you just absorbed everything he was feeling. Now, this is not all necessarily the fault of the coworkers and bosses. They have no idea why they are so drawn to us. We have a light that's like a beacon that summons the needy and the helpless and when we are approached, we are all too happy to ease their pain and suffering.
The one thing as empaths we never think about is the fact that if we die tomorrow, we will be replaced in a heartbeat. Not out of spite or lack of care your coworkers may have for you but when we are gone, the wheel still turns, and life goes on with or without us. So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed with the needs of others? How can this act of generosity when constantly given allow these people to grow and learn for themselves? We know that allowing others to unload their work or problems on us can be overwhelming emotional for ourselves but the word 'NO' just seems so unnatural to us and when we do say no, we feel terrible. This is where the need for boundaries for our empathic abilities come in.
We must learn to allow others only to a small portion of what we can help them with, and we must learn to express our concerns without becoming overwhelmed with anger. After all, once a man can fish, he will never go hungry. Below is a list I myself find useful in setting up empathic boundaries for my coworkers and boss. I have found that this list is the best way for me to keep myself focused and grounded and to allow myself to say no and be comfortable with it with no feelings of remorse. Doing this has allowed me to start falling in love with my job, boss, and coworkers all over again without the fear of losing it all by telling them no.
Talk to your boss.
Sometimes, just a simple long conversation where both of you are open to expressing exactly how you feel is what can help guide you into making decisions that can make you a happier employee. Most bosses are very busy and cannot see everything that's going on with every employee. If there is someone always making mistakes and/or passing off work to you or others, then he will need to discuss with that person that there lack of accountability is making you work harder. Your boss should also be open to backing you up when you say no to doing another's work. Without his help you will have a harder time setting boundaries for your coworkers and make sure he understands this.
Make your co-workers accountable.
This means we must learn the word NO. It also means you will see some resentment and anger towards you, so be ready for it. I have been gently implying to everyone in my office that it is time to be held accountable and I have met a few roadblocks of attitude but since they are seeing a happier me, I feel they know that if they just did their job then there is no stress for me to show. Asking others to help you do what needs to be done is key, especially if you are in a managerial position. This helps decrease stress and aid in communication between you and your colleagues.
Create a spiritually loving environment for you and your co-workers.
The use of a few spiritual items in the workplace can really help the environment you work in. Anything from crystals, to herbs can greatly improve the energy of the work environment. You will have to test and see what works best as certain items may have different effects on different people. The one cool thing about bringing positive items into the office is that people who do not like positive vibrations will not stick around very long bringing more comradery between all who work there.
For example, I am lucky that I have an open-minded boss. He has allowed me to bring Himalayan salt lamps into the office and crystals. I keep one lamp in the area that have the highest stress to help ease the tension throughout the day. The other I keep in our breakroom to help calm and soothe us we take our breaks. They seemed to work well in the space they are placed in, but our total work space is larger so a few more may be needed in other areas. They do make people happy even if they say they do not feel the effects. One of the lamps recently just blew a bulb and we went without it for a week. When I finally brought in some replacements my coworkers were very happy to have it working again.
The crystals I brought in are rose quartz to help amplify love and compassion, selenite to help bring in a positive light and help amplify the other crystals and the lamps, and a few protection stones like black tourmaline, onyx and obsidian to keep away the rude, nasty and uncaring people. Now these people may get into the front door on occasion but they never seem to stay very long.
Make time for yourself.
In my locker I keep a bag of smudging herbs just in case I need to make a quick infusion and spray myself with it. I also have learned that hematite is my go-to for pushing away unwanted energies from my coworkers and boss, so I always keep that one on me to help determine what feelings are my own and not someone else's. If I start to feel as if I am absorbing these unwanted energies from others, then I take a hold of my hematite and imagine the unwanted energy bouncing off the bright shiny silver shield the stone has placed all around me. So far this has been my go-to stone for shielding my absorption of negative energy.
Remove yourself from conflict and gossip.
There are days that people's voices can be hard to hear, especially when all they do is complain or gossip. Instead of sticking around and absorbing that energy find a place to be alone. Now at my work there are not too many places to do that so now I am now bringing headphones with me to listen to guided meditations during my lunch hour. Even if you’re in the room with a negative person, if you focus on something else and do not engage in the negative chat then you won't absorb that person's energy. I just tell people that I am doing some homework or work for my small business and they leave me be and they don’t get their feelings hurt. Even if you just take a walk or sit in your car and read a book this can greatly help relieve the stress around you from the morning. Don't be afraid to give yourself some alone time.
Finally, is all else fails it's time to get a new job.
The feeling of a fresh environment to grow and learn from can be an addiction for some. Those are the people with resumes a thousand miles long. As empaths we like to feel grounded and want a job that will last many, many years. But if you are truly stuck in an environment that will not change, with people who are narcissistic, with people who are energy vampires or just stuck with people who are selfish and mean then forget even trying and just start looking for another job.
If you are lucky to work somewhere that others are willing to learn to take responsibility and start doing what they were hired to do, they will conform and all in the office will be happier for it. If you are lucky to have a boss that you can talk to and he is willing to help you find ways to make changes in the office then everyone will understand the importance of teamwork and how it is unfair to pile everything onto the one person who is always willing to help.
In no way am I telling you as an empath to stop giving, we just need to learn to give what is needed. Our empathic abilities are what make us special. Trying to stop them or shut them off takes away from who we are. We are caring loving souls who just want to help people feel peace and happiness. Taking care of ourselves by not allowing people to take advantage of our generosity and compassion can help us achieve that goal.