A friend recently was in an auto accident. Fortunately she was not seriously injured. The following day was Monday, and my friend was planning on going into work, despite the fact that she had an injury which she had not sought medical attention for, and had not begun the process of contacting her insurance company and the myriad of details that need attention as a result.
Because of our strong work ethic, we are often misguided into believing that we need to “show up.” My friend didn’t consider taking time off because “I’m so busy at work.”
Listen to your body. Your body will never lie to you. But our minds often lie to our body. I have seen people come into work when they should clearly be home or in the hospital. In these instances, employees convince themselves that the job needs them. Sometimes this is due to supervision that is controlling, where they guilt trip the employee by expressing, “We are too busy, do you have to miss work today?” Or in the case of my friend, after 2 days out, they call her home, “When are you coming back? We’re so busy.”
I understand these are lean times in corporate America, but that’s not your fault. You didn’t cause this, greed has caused this. “Doing more with less” is converted on the backs of the worker, the one expected now to perform the work of two or more. There is a mindset in people with good moral fiber and strong work ethic that buys into the guilt, thereby allowing them to be manipulated by it.
I have seen this since I entered the work force in the 80’s. I’ve known the boom times and the recession times, but it doesn’t matter what time it is, all times have management that uses manipulation to guilt their work force into turning their backs on their health. This is not a recession only tactic. This is systemic abusive behavior.
Poor management pressures their employees and guilts them into coming into work, when they should be taking care of themselves. My friend is a single parent with no family in the country, so she already doesn’t have a good support structure in place that can step in and assist. These people she works for know this. Yet despite this knowledge, they react and respond to this with the limitations in their mind. They don’t put themselves in another person’s shoes. They are closed-minded, and look at the world through limited lenses— their very own lenses. They do not entertain a world of different realities and possibilities— A world where we are all unique with unique challenges. Instead, they only allow for a world that they have experienced.
Here we are in the new millennia, and still regardless of age, much management in corporate America still maintains the 1950’s mindset where the wife stays at home. If she has a job, then certainly it isn’t as important as his (according to the husband’s view). Granted, most managers in the field of engineering are male, so this is typically the mindset that is prevalent. They don’t have to take care of 100% of the household and children. Many of them neglect their own health, so of course often they reflect that onto you and expect you to do the same. They are sacrificing it, so you should too.
Some managers with children who are now grown and out of the house, forget the load and demands placed on a parent. Some never experienced it because their stay at home spouse buffered them from it. In most cases managers have partners at home, so they do not have the added challenges of being a single parent. In some cases, where these managers are women, they act no differently from these Neanderthal management tactics. They perpetuate the prevalent problem.
I am speaking of the worse cases, the extreme ones, because not everyone is fortunate to work for management who can look beyond their own realm of experience and be compassionate to a different life experience. I have been fortunate for the most part to work for management that has respected my judgment.
However, the times I have not had such support, have been the times I have learned that the problem begins with how “I” approach management when I have an issue requiring me to take time off. If we approach them in fear, or asking permission, we are playing into the game of control. We have handed them the control of our lives. They may control the tasks we perform “while at work,” but I’ll be darned if I am going to hand them the reigns to control my health decisions and my personal life. This is unacceptable. But if we cower out of fear and approach them as if they have the power to vote on whether we stay home or go to the hospital, we are to blame.
Managers cue off of us—how we communicate with them—much like the opposite sex that we attract in our personal relationships do. They sense what we are blind to see and unable to hear. They sense that we are in victim mode, and they respond by further victimizing. My friend’s marriage was one where her husband was abusive. Just because she has ended that relationship doesn’t mean she has overcome her victim mentality. It is mimicked in all areas of one’s life until one becomes aware of it and decides to seek help to stamp it out.
I have learned that it is best to never give too many details to your supervision. Give them the absolute minimum. If you give out too much information, that portrays weakness on your part. They will find something in all the information you spill, that will lead them to judge your situation. And they don’t judge it in your favor. They judge it more along the lines of, “Well that doesn’t justify taking a whole week off. I had the same thing happen to me, or someone I know, and it wasn’t a big deal.” Which further translates into, “You shouldn’t take that much time off, if any at all.”
Of course the details of your life are entirely unique to you. As unique individuals we have unique needs and unique scenarios of family support (if at all). Our bodies react differently to the same diagnosis. If you share too much, your supervisor will be empowered with decisions that are not his to make, but yours alone. How much time a body needs to heal, is not a supervisor’s call but yours and your medical professional’s. HIPPA privacy laws exist for this very reason to protect you and prevent misuse of information. If you don’t think you’d do that to someone, remember that not everyone plays by your rules. These laws exist because of the abusers that exist.
We are thankful and grateful for employment, however, we cannot be enslaved by it. The mindset that has to change first is our very own. The minute we begin to change the words we choose to speak, the tone we choose (not asking permission, but telling a statement), then our management will respond with respecting our privacy. And if they do not, then it is time to look for another job, one where you work for people who treat you with dignity.
No job is worth threatening your health and well being. These jobs are not going to comfort you on your deathbed. They plow on and the corporation doesn’t miss a beat. At work, we are all like light bulbs, easily replaced. A corporation doesn’t exist for you, and you should not exist for a corporation. You exist for the ones in your life, your loved ones who care for you and want you healthy. They don’t view you as a light bulb, you mean so much more to them. They value your unique attributes and love you for them. They are the ones who will be at your side when you are ill, not the corporation. Don’t give your soul and health to the company you work for. That sacrifice never pays off. That sacrifice will always leave you lonely and sick. And if currently you are alone, with no one close in your life, then I hope you are encouraged to focus more time on you and your personal life so that you can make space in your life to love others. When you do this, you will attract love into your life.
I know that we all need a paycheck, but we all deserve the dignity of working for someone who will respect us.
We cannot change other people, but we can change how we respond to life. How we make up our minds to live. If we choose to lie to ourselves that the job needs us, then we begin nailing our own coffins. But if we realize now, that it’s time to put our health as a top priority, then we can focus on healing. Part of physical healing is always the mental aspect. If we allow manipulation at work, then we will take longer to heal, and we only hurt ourselves.
Knowing that my friend doesn’t place her health as a top priority, I urged her to see this accident as a wake-up call. I have had many wake-up calls myself. I think we all do. But if we choose to slumber right through them, we invite more, or worse. I knew someone who was so preoccupied and stressed out, that she drove right through a stop sign (never noticing it) and was killed, leaving behind children, a spouse, and a family who adored her. She didn’t deserve this, nor her family and friends, but this is what we do to ourselves. We drive ourselves into our own demise. Some abruptly, or slowly, by relegating our bodies and health to a lower priority.
Eating healthy alone doesn’t keep a person healthy. Health begins with the mind. If the mind is in victim mode, the body will allow itself to be victimized. But if we empower ourselves with the right to dignity and health, then our bodies will respond favorably and others who try to sabotage this will be forced to take notice that you will not allow it.
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”— 2 Timothy 1:7