When you do your job, there will always be a part of you that gets quite involved. And it’s not a bad thing—concern for what you do is important since it can motivate you to push for success.
As you already know, however, too much of a good thing can be bad; being too involved can be sabotaging not only your efficiency, but also your peace of mind. You’re putting an excessive amount of heart in what you do and the people you do it with, that criticism or even the smallest failure ends up making you defensive and hurting you.
Take a pause: that invisible force field may not really be needed. Here are signs that you may need to allow yourself space and to look at things from a wider perspective before you end up making yourself miserable:
Sign #1: You’re judgmental (and you feel like everyone hates you).
Do you remember that colleague who seems to always be out of the office so early? Do you remember how annoyed you were by her, thinking that she’s not working as hard as you?
But what if she actually is? What if she does her job and is really that great with managing her time? Because you’re way too focused on how hard you’ve been churning tasks out and on the countless days you’ve been doing overtime work, you’re unconsciously harboring bitterness towards your job and the people who seem to be having it better than you.
And it’s not just other people whom you judge. You’re actually your worst critic. You feel like no matter what you do, you’re never good enough, and that everyone hates you for it.
First off, no one hates you with wanton vehemence. As an article on Medium notes, “It’s sad (but also wonderful) that other people are not all that interested in you. Mostly their criticisms are the product of [your] own beliefs and experiences which is worth remembering.”
Take a step back and think—maybe the intensity isn’t warranted. When you feel like you’re putting in too much of yourself, take a deep belly breath, and as you exhale, relax your shoulders and your neck. (Maybe you’re not even aware of the tension you have in those areas.) Once you feel calmer, recall what you’ve been doing, and ask yourself, “Does this really have to be so hard? Does this really have to hurt me?” Reflect on your answer, and learn to measure your reactions.
Sign #2: You easily jump to conclusions.
When your manager fails to return your smile, do you immediately think that she doesn’t like you? If your request for a raise doesn’t get approved, do you conclude that you’re not valued, or worse, are about to get fired?
Always worrying that you’ve offended someone doesn't help. If a situation really bothers you, the best way to deal with it is to ask. If your manager ignores you, approach her at a later time and ask how she's doing—maybe she just has her hands full which is why she seems preoccupied. If your raise wasn’t approved, don’t be shy to inquire why. In fact, a good boss will appreciate how invested you are in your career path. Remember, not everything is about doom and gloom.
Sign #3: You never disengage.
In this era connectivity, work-life integration has become the norm: you integrate your job seamlessly into your life outside work, while still managing to have time for yourself and other pursuits. While this can be sustainable when done right, there is also the chance that you’re letting your work overshadow your personal life, so much so that your moods and feelings are affected long after you’ve clocked out the office.
At some point, you have to mentally and emotionally unplug, because if you don’t, you’ll overload and burn out, and that’s the last thing that you want to happen. If things get too hectic, file a vacation leave. You can go drive or fly off to a new destination, but you can also stay within your city or even just chill at home. The point is you allow your brain (and your heart) to declutter. This way, you’ll be able to have the mental and emotional clarity to process things at a distance, which will hopefully carry over once you get back to work.