Our relationship with our work in essence boils down to a piece of paper. A contract which has some ambiguity, but gives us a certain amount of financial safety. Recently quite a number of us received another piece of paper to accept furlough.
Although this piece of paper is met with the standard company message. Let’s be honest it sounds like a relationship break up: “it’s not you it’s me”… “it’s not about you….”you’re great”….”don’t take it personal”….”you can take this time to work on yourself”.
Unless you are a detached, or a sociopath, then you won’t feel in control in this moment. That this is not “just a holiday. You’re grieving the loss of your old structure. It’s like being thrown into a purgatory. Sure, you have a certain degree of freedom from work in a 9-5 sense. However, in a emotional sense you’re still there. I rush down my lunch as a pavlovian response, thinking I have a meeting to go to. I wonder whether to buy some new workout clothes on ASOS…. but will I have a full pay packet in a month’s time? It doesn’t matter whether I’m in work or not. Work is on my mind.
- What is my identity?
- Do I matter?
- What value am I bringing?
- Who notices that I’m gone?
If you associate yourself as a driven person, then this needs to be channeled. I have gone from spreadsheets, to cleaning dusting in a day. All these relationships with work are suddenly dropped, and this is a grieving process in itself.
The main point that I draw from this is that its ok, not to feel ok. Being healthy is not necessarily about not having a virus. It’s about being mentally healthy, and not just accepting “can’t complain” when asking “how are you?”. At a time when people really want to know how are you are, really tell them how are you are feeling. Just because you and your family are well, doesn’t mean you cannot tell them about your 4am thoughts. These weave us together.