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  • How To Handle The Unexpected Agony in Life

    Suffering photo from ShutterstockDeath. Divorce. Moving. Illness. Losing a job. You probably know the list of things you might need to survive, because life inevitably changes and deals you losses along with the wins. Agony often accompanies loss, because your sense of yourself is shattered. Agony rushes in when you lose your sense of safety, stability, hopefulness, peace-of-mind, and happiness.

    Agony is like inflammation around a good-sized puncture wound.

    It’s hard to even look at something that hurts so much. But you must. You must take care of yourself.

    The same is true for all the large and small changes that happen to you in work and life. Take a good look and decide what’s probably going to heal by itself, and what needs your attention.

    Being able to see the difference between major and minor factors is more than a GMAT problem. At work, the minor stuff might include your boss having a bad day, Twitter goes down, or nobody “likes” your post. These are minor problems and you know it. That’s if you’ve been pretty scrupulous about taking out the trash in your head on a regular basis.

    If you have not grieved the bigger losses that have been piling up, you may not be fine when the smaller ones come along. A colleague’s negative comment may be the piece that undoes the entire Jenga tower of agony.

    If you have experienced real loss, even if you call your current situation “the new normal,” you probably want to take the opportunity to grieve the old one. You probably want to sort through the small and large hurts you have endured, and reflect on how you’ve been changed by them.

    The exercise alone will provide you with some healing, just from the respect you show yourself when you pay attention to your own life.

    Your personal story matters at work because your mental health directly impacts your ability to succeed.

    Mental health gives you the resilience to bounce back and persistence to keep going after your great idea is shot down, your computer vaporizes your best (unsaved) work, or your colleague turns rogue at a meeting.

    Losses great and small are predictable events and yet often unexpected in the moments they occur. Be ready for the unexpected by taking care of yourself now.

    Take a mental health day, even if it’s already a real day off. Write out what’s behind the frustration, sadness or weariness you feel. Think about what’s gone and what is left. Maybe have a ritual or rite for blessing the passing. If there are really big issues, work with a trained counselor. It’s worth it.

    Feeling well is a metric that’s been underrated. Make sure you make your well-being a priority.

    Nance Rosen, MBA is author of Speak Up! & Succeed: How to get everything you want in meetings, presentations and conversations. She blogs at NanceRosenBlog.com. She is also on the faculty of the UCLA Business and Management continuing executive education program. Formerly, Nance was a marketing executive at the Coca-Cola Company, president of the Medical Marketing Association, first woman director of marketing in the Fortune 500 technology sector, host of International Business on public radio and NightCap on television, an entrepreneur and a general manager at Bozell Advertising and Public Relations (now Omnicom).

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