When You Feel Too Low, But There is Absolutely No Reason To

Asmita Karanje

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Barring any prolonged depression or hormonal imbalances (which is a rather serious condition and requires professional help), we all have felt like shit at some point in our lives.

Either it’s because you lack the confidence and the skill-set required to deliver the job, or you are made to believe that.

The former is rather simple — because you know the problem — you just got to fix it. The latter is a little complex than it would seem. It can either be because of your low self-esteem or cynical view of others.

And the reality is almost somewhere in between these two.

Let’s me tell you a little story

I was in a workshop at my office just recently, wherein we had to assess any potential risks or control gaps we foresee for this initiative. Being new to the entire program of work, I struggled to understand the scope. And limited by my knowledge on the overall project, I couldn't articulate the risks that I could foresee in the initiative.

This made me feel terrible, but in reality, there was no reason to feel as bad.

I had only begun my journey in this project, and it is only natural to not have all the details at the beginning of any new initiative.

We work in an ambiguous environment and gradually get into the details as we progress further into the implementation phase.

And by then, the scope, risks, gaps and issues will become much clearer for me to critically challenge and review any risks that won’t be considered.

I didn’t feel like shit because I didn’t know something.

I felt bad, because, being the self-critical person that I am, I lacked the self-confidence to moderate the discussion. And that's because I thought I didn’t have enough details on the initiative.

This lack of self-confidence then reflected in my behavior and made me vulnerable in front of those stakeholders. And being vulnerable is not the best strategy, especially when that makes you feel intimidated and shitty.

To top it all, I then also apologized for not knowing everything on the project. But introspecting on the entire episode made me realize I wasn’t objectively assessing the problem.

Also to clarify, no one really blamed me and no one asked for an apology.

But I did that because of my assessment of myself. Anyway, being apologetic meant that the shitty workshop was all because of one person not knowing a few details on the project.

And honestly, it’s not about having all the knowledge on the subject, but more so having the skills to moderate the workshop successfully and follow the discussions.

Most times, the problem is much bigger than the assumptions of our follies — often; it is a complex puzzle of several reasons such as communication gaps or aggressive leadership style or little known work politics.

So what was the real problem in my story?

So I had a debrief session with my manager immediately afterwards and she said she felt there was a lack of engagement from all the participants in the workshop. And that resulted in a not so satisfactory outcome.

But it’s one workshop of at least a couple dozen of them that we will need to go through.

Some are going to be extraordinary whereas some others shitty as hell while most others are going to be just in between these two.

That’s just maths — normal probability distribution remember?

In short, all this self-blame was just unnecessary.

She advised me to change the approach for the workshop a little, “Instead of starting on a blank piece of paper let’s provide the participants with some guidance material to enable a meaningful conversation around the table.”

And I was personally impressed by how she objectively assessed the problem and gave me some very useful advice on how to increase the engagement in the room. That was the problem and the solution right there.

This is not to say that we should not reflect on our own work and leadership style; however, we should not be overly self-critical.

Sometimes, the problem is much bigger than ‘You’ as an individual. Everything doesn’t need to centre around You.

By focussing on our inefficiencies alone, we tend to ignore the elephant in the room.

How to deal with such situations?

If you suffer from low self-esteem or are overly self-critical firstly stop blaming yourself. You are not the biggest problem in the world right now.

There is something deeper and graver than what meets the eye. You will not know what the real problem is until you objectively analyze the situation.

Do not be in a hurry to do that the very same day.

Relax and calm down.

Unwind for a couple of days and once you have completely forgotten about it, it’s time to think about the situation — what was the problem in your view (which can just be symptoms) and what were the underlying reasons.

How you can overcome those issues the next time around.

Again, you don’t have to solve for everything, just baby steps — pick up that one minor issue you can fix.

That’s how you learn and grow each day.

Summary

In summary, every time you feel shitty, understand what is the real trigger. Do not be overly self-critical as that hinders your ability to understand the actual problems on hand. You cannot miss the elephant while you try to fight the flies.

Be wise, unwind, and think through the whole situation objectively.

If you are too frustrated or stressed, ask for help from someone else who’s part of the same event. It helps to know different perspectives on the same problem.

And that’s how you feel less shitty than before.

Thank you for reading my post! If you found it useful, here are two other articles that you might enjoy.

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX
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