Sunday, May 1, 2011

Making our mental health a business

Recently I learned some news from a co-worker that upset me. Oh, it wasn't anything critical--a project I am involved in is scheduled to be completed sooner than I anticipated. I developed an angry temper because I learned the information second-hand, without hearing directly from the project manager.

I experienced several emotions. I was fearful that this project was moving forward ahead of schedule. I was angry for not being told directly of the change of plans. And as I rehearsed in my head plans to confront the project manager, I felt the need to vent my frustration.

However, I made a firm command to my muscles to not speak up at the next meeting. Recognizing the situation for what it was--a triviality--I decided to make my mental health my top priority and simply roll with the new schedule. While in former days I would have expressed my opinion passionately, I now realize that would not be very group minded. I excused instead of accused the project manager, and once the meeting finished I endorsed myself for not making a mountain out of a molehill.

We nervous people often want to speak up when we feel we have been "wronged," but in doing so the outcome is rarely satisfaction. Instead, in such a bid for a symbolic victory we usually feel embarrassed, guilty, or fearful afterward, analyzing what we said and why we said it. Dr. Low does remind us to not be "doormats," but to express ourselves with "culture" (that is, politely) if we feel the need to confront someone. Because in the end venting our feelings is not worth it if it costs us progress toward achieving better mental health. And at work this truly means making our mental health a business.