A couple of weeks ago I became one of the toxic people I hate. I became Complaining Cathy. If you have no idea who that is, refer to my last blog entry Toxic People Are Bad For Your Health, Seriously.
I’d planned to write a second part to that blog entry, but I haven’t gotten around to doing it, life has sidetracked me. Sorry…
I will definitely get to it soon because this last few weeks of dealing with toxicity has reminded me that people need help surviving in toxic environments.
So how did I become Complaining Cathy? Let me set the stage for you.
Imagine working in an environment where there is a deadline coming up in one week, and you need to get three months worth of work done before the deadline. And let’s not forget you have no idea where to start and the person that you are reporting to won’t help you get up to speed, is unbelievably confusing, and non committal to the direction she gives. Imagine that person is a combination of Faultless Frank and Inconsistent Ivan. In other words it’s a complete shit show.
Now back to how I became Cathy the Complainer…
First, upon joining the project, due to the fast pace of the environment, I became reactionary to every negative interaction I experienced, rather than reflecting on the origins of my irritation. In other words, I did not take the time to evaluate what was REALLY happening. Second, once I discovered I was working with a toxic personality, I didn’t take control. Lastly, instead of seeing the situation for what it was, I somehow made it about me and victimized myself.
In a matter of a week I completely lost myself. In true Complaining Cathy form, I complained to anyone who would listen, ranting about what I was experiencing at work. I was inexplicably upset and started to believe that life was happening to me.
I started saying things like, “Why is this happening to me.” Why can’t I just go to work and do my job without having to deal with people and their stupidity”?
By the end of week one, I had complained so much to one of my friends he quickly reminded me that dealing with this type of B.S. is part of the job, I had just been lucky enough to avoid it on the last few projects. It was then I realized I let this toxic person get out of control to a point I became a toxic person.
When I think about it now I am embarrassed by my behavior because all of the complaining was a complete waste of energy and weeks later none of what happened that week even matters today. Through this experience I was also reminded that being a complaining toxic person does not feel good at all. Everyday that week when I arrived home from work, I didn’t want to do anything but sleep because I was mentally and physically drained and while I was at work I felt irritated and had random aches in my body.
To help me through this I spent some time reflecting on my experience because I decided that there is no way I can let this negative energy get me down. I resolved that I had to approach this differently because there is no way in hell I was going to spend the next few months feeling like this. So I tried a few things to help me manage this situation to protect my energy because leaving the project is not an option.
Here’s what I did:
I became more self-aware
Because I am a passionate person and I am sensitive to just about everything, anything will set me off. I started paying attention to how I was feeling when I got upset. When I practiced self awareness, I noticed that my body started to get hot and my stomach started to turn when I began getting upset. Once I figured that out, whenever I interacted with someone at work and I felt frustrated, I told myself, this doesn’t matter. This reminder to myself worked very well.
I had to come to this conclusion because I am working in an environment where nobody wants to be wrong and for damn sure has no interest in seeing my point of view. All of this is frustrating but I have decided that fighting isn’t worth my sanity. Last week I had to choose which was more important to me, my sanity or winning every battle. I chose the former.
I intentionally brought joy to my day, everyday
I decided that I needed to make it through the next few months in this environment and accepted that it was going to be a perpetual shit show. Accepting this helped me conclude that I needed to do something daily to counteract the negative energy.
I decided that I would do CrossFit everyday for six days in a row, and I did it. Making this decision was so great because I workout early in the morning and I was so full of joy and energy, anything that came my way later in the day didn’t even matter because I was in a wonderful place.
Set an intention for my day
In the beginning of yoga practice the instructor always tells us to set an intention for our practice, and usually what I intend to accomplish in my yoga practice I achieve. I decided I would start setting intentions for what I wanted to accomplish during that day before I left home. That’s when something magical happened. I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish in that day. I became so focused on accomplishing what I intended for the day, the noise in the background really did not matter.
The last thing I did before I went to bed every night that week was journaling about how I was feeling. Because I am a problem solver, I started to identify ways to fix my situation by getting it out on paper. This was helpful because I’d either figure out a way to solve my problem or decide that it didn’t matter and move on from it.
There you have it. That’s how I became Complaining Cathy and what I did to rescue myself from her. These methods are not always going to work but the point is to try different things and avoid succumbing to the nonsense which will change you.
So you tell me. What are some of the worst toxic situations you’ve dealt with in the workplace and how did you manage it?