“The food is bad and the portions are too small.”

This yiddish phrase captures how a lot of people feel when they’re looking for work and get a ridiculous offer. Ridonculous is how a client referred to it recently. It can be tempting to take anything that comes along. Sometimes any income source is better than none. And sometimes it ends up sucking your spirit dry.

It’s important to consider what you’re signing up for. So many of my clients are dealing with PTJD, post traumatic job disorder. Nightmares, wincing at the sound of the company name, feelings of self-doubt, and lingering bitterness over the way they were treated. This is real and prevalent. A friend of mine is a psychiatrist. She told me that she’s seen an increase in clients coming to her for medication to help them get through the work day. I think medication is fantastic! There’s no judgment here! It does give me pause to consider that the only way to make it through a job is to get pharmaceutical help. What have we signed up for when we agree to these parameters?

I and my colleagues were verbally abused at a work place many years ago. We took it and accepted it like it was normal, but we knew deep down it wasn’t. We were young and naïve. And scared to go anywhere else. Do I have PTJD from that time? Probably. I was once yelled at for 2 hours about being a nazi communist because I had followed my boss’s direction instead of disagreeing. I had an out of body experience then, and decided to update my resume that night. But I stayed for a few more years of this abuse until I developed enough self-confidence to look elsewhere.

There have been many occasions of verbal and emotional abuse in my career. I’ve learned from each one that it’s up to me to set boundaries and hold true to them. Each experience has made it easier for me to recognize toxicity quickly and enable me to make an educated decision about my investment.

Yes, we need to earn income, so we do what we need to do. But self-protection is free. Setting boundaries and limits are yours for the taking.

If you take this low paying job with icky people, define your survival tools:

  • How long will you stay in this job/department/company? Until you reach a certain dollar amount or until you accomplish a resume building initiative or…
  • What will you do to nourish your heart while they try to strip it down? Meditate in the bathroom, go to yoga at lunch, take singing lessons at night, go to church every Sunday…
  • What mantra will you chant as you get the work done in the windowless cubicle? What words, poems, songs, or quotes fill you up with hope, patience, clarity of focus, and self-love…
  • Will you commit to finding something to laugh about once a day or 5 times a day? Laughter physically changes our neurological structure. It is life affirming and an absolute requirement for getting through a tough time…
  • What do you need to avoid PTJD? Being seen, heard and understood is the key. Try finding a friend or colleague who gets it.

We have the power to shift our experience of something. Medication is effective and very helpful, but getting thru an awful work situation without trauma doesn’t stop there. No medication can do what owning our power can do.

You’ve got the power to take the bite size garbage you’re being forced to eat and turn it into a manageable feast. That’s your power.