I was recently asked the following question. What follows is my response.
How do I let go of personal disappointments in my career and not take it out on my family?
You are not alone. Many people have trouble separating work frustrations from the peacefulness of home. Home should be a place where you find refuge from the challenges and stressors related to work. There are two periods in which we hold on to disappointments at work. One is during break, immediately after the event occurs. The other time is during the drive from work to home.
During that immediate drive – from work to home, we replay, in our minds eye, the stressful events at work. Sometimes we replay situations for many weeks, months, and even years after they happen at work.
Here are some tips that will help.
For the daily drive (or bus/train ride) home:
1. Use deep breathing techniques for at least three minutes shortly after you begin the drive home.
2. Spend five minutes envisioning what will make you happy, peaceful, and joyous once you get home. Doing this will allows you to transition from the work environment to home.
3. Play your favorite music, and/or call home. Call home and talk to your significant other and/or children. Do whatever will relax you and take your mind off work. Don’t listen to talk radio or other radio shows that will invoke negative feelings.
For generally Letting Go of Stuff® at work:
1. Do not personalize what happens at work. More often than not, decisions made that affect you, are not specifically about you.
2. Focus your energy on what you can control. Many people will put energy in to asking and answering the question – WHY? – about what happens at work.
3. Focus on taking positive action. In other words, don’t let one disappointment keep you from continuing to be as honest, pleasant, and uplifting as possible at work. You may find that setting positive goals to do this will keep you focused on moving forward rather than stuck in a rut.
4. If there is someone at home who can help, then ask this person to support you in not bringing “stuff” home. I call this person the “stuff spotter.” You have to be willing to allow them to say this and you not react defensively – otherwise, getting the support will not work.
5. Maintain a good balance among the various activities in your life.
Finally, what works well for me, and I also recommend it to my clients, is to keep a personal journal. In the journal you can release, through writing, some of your frustrations related to disappointments at work. When you journal, you also provide a way to track your emotional growth. It is empowering to see yourself grow as you let go of old unwanted habits and take on new desired behavior – on purpose.
Darren L Johnson
the Letting Go Pro