Are you finding more and more things at work that just plain make you feel like screaming? Maybe you’re forced to do things you hate, while it seems everyone else gets the juiciest assignments. Even worse, when you’re feeling angry at work, all the normally annoying things feel even bigger.
Now it feels like your workload is ten times bigger than everyone else’s. And your paycheck ten times smaller! And what about that one co-worker (you know who he is) getting all the applause while you do all the backbreaking work? Why doesn’t anyone see just how much you’re doing!
The fuzzy end of the work lollipop
To paraphrase Sugar, the Marilyn Monroe character in Some Like It Hot, you always seem to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. While other people in your office get to actually enjoy what they do, all you get is more and more fed up. That’s enough to keep anyone feeling angry at work.
Especially when you think about co-workers who have somehow found ways to get involved in things that YOU are interested in. Or who simply seem to have more fun on a daily basis. Is it just that the person is luckier than you? What do they have that you don’t?
Some “secrets” about luckier people
Well, there’s no reason that person can’t be you. I’m sure you have many of the skills that can get you ahead. But when it comes to work, attitudes and perspectives play a huge role in shaping your experience.
And the good news is that you can actually reshape your attitudes and perspective. Sometimes just a small well-targeted shift, can make a big difference. It may take a little time and practice. But starting today, you can make a commitment to create a better environment for yourself — right where you are.
And, as much as you may be thinking “man, this is crap”, you really can open the door to a life that more often than not gives you the shiny side of the lollipop. I’ve seen it happen. And I’ve worked the same magic for myself. Though I admit it doesn’t happen overnight.
What’s really going on when you’re feeling angry at work
Sometimes when a job isn’t working for us, for whatever reasons, the little things start to drive us nuts. And then the bigger things start to loom way out of proportion. Not surprisingly, we begin to feel angry. That’s pretty normal for any human being.
And we all know that there are lots of legitimately upsetting things in the workplace. Whether it’s impossible deadlines, Energizer-bunny bosses, demanding customers, or simply nasty, know-it-all co-workers.
But if you feel angry day-in and day-out, odds are there is something more to the picture than just the little annoyances. As adults, we learn to deal with irksome things on a regular basis. But there has to be some balance. When when things get out of balance, Mount Vesuvius can erupt!
It starts to build if we don’t take action
Things like being overlooked for a promotion or not feeling appreciated can start our anger meters running. But there are many other things that can generate intense emotion at work. Things like hurt feelings, budget cuts, eager-beaver co-workers, a new boss, feeling incompetent and yet being expected to perform, being treated unfairly, etc.
And sometimes, it’s nothing specific. Just a vague sense of dissatisfaction that grows inside of us without any hope of release. We often begin to feel trapped by the circumstances of our jobs. And like a child trying to make sense of the world, we want to cry out in frustration because everything feels out of control.
And that’s a problem because most of us live under the assumption that we CAN control things, and we spend our days engaged in elaborate non-productive behaviors that try to do just that. In fact, many times it’s those very behaviors that drive those around us nuts. The truth is: There’s no way to control all the circumstances around us. Ever.
Furthermore, it does absolutely no good to rant and rave about what we can’t control. Anger doesn’t help. In fact, it only adds to our misery because while we’re being angry, we aren’t doing anything to help ourselves. And that last part is the key!
A little more about handling that anger
Of course, you don’t need to shove all that anger deep within and pretend all is ok. Rant and rave if you want. Just not at a boss or coworker. Wait until you’re alone or with a trusted friend. Or go play Whack-a-Mole to work off some steam.
But also, remember that anger is a sign something is wrong and needs attention. You can only ignore it so long. And the sooner you pay attention, the sooner you can start to find some solutions.
Remember that you always have two choices when it comes to anger:
- Hold on to the anger for all it’s worth, wearing it like a bright red coat of armor.
- Use that same energy to do something that actually makes things better for you.
So what’s your role in all this?
That’s not about placing blame. As I said, I’ve been in this position myself. More than once. And when I was there, it felt absolutely clear to me that it wasn’t about anything I was doing wrong. And it wasn’t — well, not exactly.
It was about what else I could have been doing to make my own life at work happier. Remember that your anger doesn’t exist outside of you. It’s something that is manufactured inside you. It is created by you. It can’t all be about them. At least not usually.
The good news is that you also have the ability to learn to manage it. This is one choice you can make for yourself. Therapy and sites like this one can assist in the process. But you are still the only one who can choose to make things better for yourself.
Are you ready to choose less anger?
Once you make that choice, things can begin to turn around. Even if not all at once. It begins with starting to catch yourself when you feel your anger rising. Do you feed the anger by thinking of more and more things that aren’t going your way?
Or do you instead stop for a moment and notice your thoughts. And then you take a few deep breaths — just to stop the adrenaline that takes things out of your head and into your body. The best defense against anger is to take control of the one thing you can control for sure: yourself!
Toadying Tad, the boss’s nephew, may always earn more than you. And there will always be promotions or raises that don’t come quickly enough. But you can begin to understand why you react the way you do. And then find ways not only to check in with your rising emotions, but also to change the way you perceive your job and yourself at work. Those things show.
Our greatest ally is self-awareness. And a belief in ourselves. Knowing that one small step at a time, we can make things better. More tips on that to come. For now, just try catching yourself as the anger rises. And replace that wasted energy with a plan to get yourself some assignments you do want. Positive action helps. And feeling even a little less angry is a good start.
Feel free to add this discussion if you have a story to share or advice to offer!
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