Work can be a wonderful place. You feel stimulated, you’re learning, and loving the time with your team members.

And, sometimes, your work environment takes a sideways turn. Instead of the rush of energy, you feel a rush of dread. When these bad feelings come, you don’t know what to do so you may work more, hibernate, lose contact with people outside your work world. This avoidance puts you in a box where all along accepting the situation sets you free.

I raise my hand high with this one. Working long hours was my number one way to escape dealing with my uneasy feelings. It was so subtle it took me most of my career to realize it. I remember feeling like I was carrying a ball of anxiety in my chest and I did it so long it felt normal to feel that way. I didn’t know any better way to handle the situation. 

The truth is you have two problems running here – an inner one and an outer one. The inner one is the bad feelings inside. The outer one is the external conditions of your work environment. These two problems require two different solutions. Thankfully, you’ve got full control over your inner problem. So why not start there! 

Taking some simple steps will familiarize you with handling your inner problem – accepting your uneasy feelings – and help you to build a life-long habit of managing your peace of mind. Then, handling the outer problem will be a lot easier. 

If you’re feeling bad at times about your environment, read on to find do-able steps to overcome the situation without resisting what is. 

How to Accept Your Work Environment

Step 1: Let Go of Your Work Story 

Give your mind some space to deal with the matter at hand. Drop the running story of the challenging situations at work. Let it float away. This doesn’t mean you forget about this outer problem. You will manage it. It’s critical now to address your inner problem first. 

Step 2: Feel the Discomfort

You’re brave and you can do this. You know that on the other side of this exercise you’re going to be relieved. Your heart will be happier. Remember that. Now, simply scan your body for the source of your uneasy feelings. Find the part of you that’s holding them. For example, I tend to carry a lot in my heart (middle of my chest). 

Breathe into that part and amplify the bad feeling. The intention here is to gather some wisdom of how you hold feelings and their impermanence not to make yourself feel worse. Get a solid sense of what you’re feeling. Keep breathing into that part and continue until it starts to subside. Be sure you’ve dropped the story as laid out in Step 1. 

(Give yourself 15-20 minutes to go through this. It may help to walk at the same time. This time will be nothing compared to the countless hours you could spend feeling bad).

Step 3: Observe from the Outside

Once the feeling has weakened or completely subsided, move into an observer position. Look at yourself and gather insights about what is going on. Name the type of feeling you were having, where it was located, what was it’s positive intention for you. 

Then, let yourself widen the experience so you can view your work situation. As you look in, what behavioral patterns or themes do you notice about yourself? How would you love to see yourself managing the situation? What qualities or personal traits would you demonstrate (wisdom, love, curiosity, patience, contentment)?

Step 4: Name the Pivotal Decision

It’s possible you’ve been asking yourself if you should stay or leave your job. From the observation you did, form the decision if you made would solve everything. It could be how to be a happier person, how to be a confident leader, or a caring friend. Challenge yourself to go above your work environment. Look at who you want to be in your life. 

Say you want to be a happier person, formulate ways to move that direction. Consider how a happy person would relate in the environment you’re facing right now.

Step 5: Take Action

Commit to moving forward. Now that you know your pivotal decision, start laying out practical ways to take action on it. It may be something like setting out various choices, making the decision, letting others know of your intention.

Remember you can ask for help  – a mentor, a close friend, a coach, a therapist – whatever feels right for you. I know how easy it is to forget. That was one of my main downfalls for most of my life. Know that many people are out there wishing good things for you and wanting to provide support. 

When you accept your inner problem arising from your work environment, you feel more content and free to solve your outer problem. You gain space in your mind and a fresh perspective. With practice, it’ll become easier and easier to solve your real problem and enjoy the here and now. This frees you to be more inspired to handle the outer situation.

Your Turn: Looking in this way, what opportunity do you see now in your work environment that wasn’t clear when you first woke up this morning? I’d love to hear your insights. 

Feel free to pass this along to anyone else struggling with their work environment. Everyone deserves peace of mind.