Emotional Distress in the Workplace
Have you ever found yourself stuck in your job feeling like you have come to the end of a dead-end street, or stuck on a long winding road? Have you wondered if there really is something greater around the bend that is worth striving for? One of the most common reasons that we find ourselves feeling this way is due to emotional distress.
On an upcoming Wise Work Radio program Tom Noteboom and I will be exploring the question What Keeps People from Advancing in the Workplace?
Can you relate to any of the following symptoms of emotional distress? If so, there is hope for you.
Symptoms of Emotional Distress
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Depression, feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Anger, bitterness, irritability or frustration
- Guilt, or feelings of worthlessness or failure
- Feeling overwhelmed or lost
- Loss of interest or energy
- Loneliness and isolation.
When we experience physical pain in the body we naturally tend to think that something is happening to us that is un-necessary and wrong. We don’t always see value in the experience or see what may be coming next. It is easy to become distressed about our pain, but not so easy to learn from it or appreciate its value.
Emotional pain is much like physical pain. It points out that something is not as it should be. Emotional pain is like a guardrail that says, if you keep going this direction you are going to experience even greater pain.
Andy Stanley says “Guardrails protect us from what lurks on the other side. The danger zone… Personal guardrails are boundaries you establish on the safe side of damaging decisions that protect you from the danger ahead. They’re meant to set off warning bells over seemingly little things…little things that can lead to big, messy consequences.”
Bumping up against a guardrail is painful, but not as destructive as pushing beyond them. It should be a sign that your current path needs to change to avoid greater harm. We need to establish emotional guardrails to keep our distress from leading us into more difficult situations down the road.
Distress Affects Others
If you are struggling with emotional distress in your place of work, others around you likely notice your struggles. It can be very difficult to meet the challenges required to grow and advance in your career when you have internal obstacles that are working against you, and sometimes unknowingly against others. It’s even harder if you don’t want to believe your struggles are indeed internal (your own doing) and not due to your circumstances, or other people holding you back.
Emotional distress increases when responsibility is avoided. It’s your responsibility to find the solution to your distress, not your right to embrace it, or for others to be responsible for it. Face it, Embrace it, Replace it!
So, Where is the Hope?
Mat 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Come To Me…
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, anger or guilt you know what it means to be weary and burdened. You may feel like there is no rest for your soul, like something is missing, buy you cannot quite put your finger on it.
Jesus challenges us to a call to action by telling us to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…”. He is not as interested in removing all your discomfort, as he is addressing the heart issue. He wants to give you what is missing so you can find a lighter burden in your work.
Take My Yoke
The second challenge that Jesus calls us to in to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”. Jesus isn’t saying that if you acknowledge him he will simply take away all your burdens. He is saying if you join him on his journey, you will take on a different burden with him that will lead to restfulness.
Everyone Loves a Three-step Process…
So, what does it look like to come to Jesus and take his yoke?
Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Jesus address’s the solution to our emotional distress.
- Deny yourself – Let go of any unrealistic, self-focused plans you have for yourself.
- Take up your cross daily – Stop fighting the wrong battle, and join Him in the good fight.
- Follow Jesus – Learn from the greatest person who ever walked this earth. The one who died for you!
Emotional distress is the natural consequence when someone walks through life with intention to “save their life”. What are you willing to lose to find it?