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Taking Care of Wellbeing at Work


February 26, 2019

“Full-time means 9-5, Monday to Friday”
“Working from home isn’t real work”
“You need to be seen at your desk, to be valued”

Do any of these sound familiar?

Our offices and businesses are based on outdated thoughts, presumptions and values which do not ring true in the modern world. It seems we are all reading from a script that has been passed down by our parents, bosses and colleagues.

If we add this to our own internal script that is constantly running, usually with untrue thoughts such as, “You need to do more!” or “One more task then you can relax”, and then finally add in our mental ‘to-do’ list on top, we have built up an unhealthy picture of ourselves and how we should (or need to) work.

All these things ultimately dictate how we view ourselves and how we live our lives. Our vision of ourselves creates our reality. If we think of ourselves as a “Frazzled Working Mum” or a “Powerful (read: ‘overworked’) Exec” then our behaviours and lifestyle will follow, resulting in us running around like headless chickens or taking work calls during family time.

What I’ve come to realise is that shifting society’s views and the scripts that replay themselves to us through our colleagues, clients or even friends and family, is slow. Although society is changing, it is up to us to create our own realities and to set barriers that protect our mental and physical health, as well as enable us to enjoy and be present in our lives.

We need to ignore that script that has us believe that life should be hard work and enjoying yourself is a luxury!

How do we do this?

We need to start with that internal script in our heads that continually criticises us. You might have heard it called the ‘inner critic’, the ‘barking dog’ or the ‘lizard brain’.

This script is the one that will talk you out of that lunchtime walk you keep promising yourself, it’s the one that presumes your colleague is mad at you because they snapped during a meeting, or gets you worked up over getting that piece of work perfect, so you end up staying late. (Again!)

This script is particularly prolific when we are going through periods of uncertainty or change. So, if you’ve decided to reduce your hours, go freelance or work from home, it will feed on that.

By learning to recognise this script and detach from it, we are then able to see situations more clearly, choose better responses, feel empowered to work how we want and need to and stop holding ourselves back from experiencing the best of life.

How can we take steps to turn away from the script and tune into our true selves?

1. Remember that you are not the script.
Think of the script as a book. It has many chapters documenting every mistake we’ve ever made, everything that could possibly go wrong and details how we ‘should’ behave, think, and feel. The script also has an audio version, which is what we can hear in our heads each day. But this is not us. It is just the script being read to us.

Referring to it as ‘the script’ to yourself and others makes this distinction easier. I’ve heard people say, “the script is saying…” which instantly detaches yourself from the critical thought. Once you recognize the script you will be surprised by how many times it pops up!

2. Choose! Don’t let the script sit in the driver’s seat.
The script lives in our reptilian brain and is much faster at responding than our conscious brain. If we don’t consciously choose thoughts, feelings, and actions, the script will jump in and choose for us.

Start with small things: What would I choose to eat? What activities do I love? Be mindful of what you say. Cut off the script and choose to think of something else. Get out of bed at the time you planned to. Choose not to engage in arguments. Choose to take a bath or read a book.

Every small choice moves us away from the script and strengthens our ‘choosing’ muscles.

3. Focus on the ‘pearls’
Another great way to disengage from the script is to concentrate on the ‘pearls’ instead.

Pearls are anything the script wouldn’t notice. This could be as little as your morning cup of tea that you’re able to enjoy overlooking your garden, that your child gave you a hug before running off to school, that you woke up in a warm bed or even just that you have paid work to go to.

Using the term ‘pearls’ is more conversational than ‘positive thinking’ or ‘practicing gratitude’. It’s easy to cheerily ask a colleague, “what’s your pearl from that?” to focus on the positive and keep the script at bay.

4. Create a new vision.
Finally, replace your thoughts about work with something new, something of your choosing. Set your own workstyle and learn to see yourself as the successful career person that you really are no matter where, how or when you work.

Kathryn Reay learnt about ‘the script’ during a five-day coaching programme, Broadband Consciousness (BC), and is now using the ideas to develop her own positive workstyle, balancing her freelance project management work with teaching a one-day version of BC. These intimate workshops for a maximum of six participants focus on letting go of negative self-beliefs and identities, learning to recognize the script, and choosing more positive thoughts, feelings and experiences. Past participants have described them as “life changing”! You can connect with Kathryn on Facebook and Instagram.

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