Do you struggle with anxiety at work? spend a lot of time at work, so the environment, the people we work with and what we do are important, but so is feeling confident, valued and fulfilled at work. So what happens if the company, the culture or the people you work with, make that an uphill struggle? What happens if you clash with your boss, feeling nothing is ever good enough and every word, look or email starts to bring up feelings of anxiety?
That’s exactly what happened to a recent client of mine, Sarah. She is an experienced HR professional and had moved from a role she’d been in for several years, to what looked on paper to be her ideal job, close to home, great staff benefits and a good salary. But it wasn’t long before she felt she’d made a huge mistake because her bosses management style bought up a struggle with self-confidence something that she knew was there to a degree but had felt, previously, that it was well under control. She knew that being in this role would damage her self-esteem unless she did something about it asap!
That’s where I came in! After a full initial consultation, getting to know both Sarah’s personal and professional background, we talked together and came up with a plan of action. Knowing she couldn’t change her boss’s management style, she knew that if she wanted to stay and succeed in the role, it had to be her own actions and reactions that changed. It’s important to say here, that there was nothing unprofessional about her boss’s approach, it was simply different to that which Sarah had experienced previously.
Using information from our initial consultation, I devised a personalised 3 session plan to allow Sarah move from the anxious and stuck position she felt she was in, to a place where she felt confident and equipped, to not only work with her boss’s management style, but to have a feeling of confidence again, both personally and professionally.
Session 1 involved working on cognitive change, looking at the unhealthy thinking styles that were contributing to the stress and anxiety. In particular, she was “catastrophising”, making up horror stories in her mind, anticipating how meetings would go, before she was even in them! She was reading between the lines of emails, rather than focusing on the fact and content of them. We worked on helping her focus on what she actually knew about situations, rather than what she was scared of and this allowed to see the things she was able to control. We ended the session with some Positive Mental Rehearsal (PMR), visualising a day at work thinking/feeling/behaving how she wanted to.
The great thing about Positive Mental Rehearsal, is the unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something that’s happened in reality and something that’s been imagined, so when you visualise a scenario going just the way you want it to, the unconscious mind logs that as what will happen when you’re in that situation for real.
Session 2 involved Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) often known as acupuncture without the needles. Our initial consultation had bought up a past situation at work, many years ago when she was just starting out her career, where she had experienced bullying in the workplace. It was clear the emotions of that time we still very strong and were exacerbating the current situation. Every time she clashed with her current boss’s style of management, the anxiety and stress she’d felt years ago came back up. She hadn’t realised the link, thinking that situation had been ‘put to bed long ago’, but by releasing those out of date emotions, she was able to separate what happened 18yrs ago, to what was happening now.
That really is the beauty of EFT, it quickly and efficiently allows emotions and memories to be separated, the emotions released, leaving you almost feeling that the experience happened to someone else, rather than yourself.
With cognitive change having already been made and Sarah able to challenge her unhelpful thoughts, she was now focusing on the things she could control and with the old negative emotions now gone with the use of EFT, SB was already seeing big changes at work. Even her boss’s approach to her had shifted a little, now that she was looking and sounding more confident. Sarah was also using Positive Mental Rehearsal (PMR) as a daily tool to see herself thinking/feeling/behaving in more healthy ways, so we were ready to move onto what would possibly be our final session for now.
Session 3 involved using Hypnotherapy to boost Sarah’s confidence and self-esteem at work. With Sarah in a deeply relaxed state, I suggested that she fully believed in her ability at work, that she was a confident and capable member of the team and that she could easily deal with any perceived negative comments with both proportion and perspective. Again, we used PMR during hypnosis to reinforce what Sarah was expecting now in terms of her thoughts feeling and behaviours.
Hypnosis is simply a deeply relaxed state of focused awareness, allowing positive suggestions to be accepted by the powerful unconscious part of our mind. Our unconscious mind not only holds our beliefs/values, it also drives our behaviour and all those things we do automatically. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis can be achieved by the vast majority of people and in fact all hypnosis is ‘self-hypnosis’……..I can’t MAKE you achieve that relaxed state or accept positive suggestions! Of course I can facilitate it, but it’s you that allows it to happen!
At the end of our 3 sessions, the anxiety at work that Sarah had previously struggled with was gone and she felt confident to take things forward, equipped with tools to deal with any hiccups she may face in the future. I have seen her since, for a couple of sessions, when she had a difficult, personal situation to deal with, needing a sounding board to process what was happening and to find some clarity to move forward.
All the techniques I use allow clients to focus on the things they want to be doing, rather than the things they were afraid of and as you can see by the process I used with Sarah, she was able to change the way she was thinking and in turn, change how she felt and behaved.
Using these types of techniques simply requires an open mind, rapport between you and your therapist, which of course is the therapist’s responsibility to generate and a willingness to commit to suggested work outside of the formal sessions. All change is a process and is approached differently with every client. We are all the product of our experience and therefore, the way I work with clients and the amount of sessions needed will vary from person to person.
So if you struggle with anxiety at work and would like to find out more or arrange a free initial consultation, just visit https://www.brighterlife.uk and thank you to Louise Jenner, The Dream Job Coach for featuring this blog on her own website! https://louisejenner.com/