DR. DEBRA HOLLAND
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Dear Dr. Debra,

I have a friend who is unhappy at her job--for good reasons.  For equally good reasons, she cannot leave her job, so that isnít a solution.  Her unhappiness at work colors all aspects of her life because she thinks about it all the time.  Iím convinced that if she just changed her thinking about the solution, she could be happy about her life in other ways.  How can I convince her of this?  How can an unhappy person learn to be happy.

A concerned friend

 

If your friend feels trapped in a bad job situation and sees no way out, than no wonder sheís unhappy with her life.  For most people the time spent at work is the biggest chunk of their day.  Many of us work more than we sleep.  And if work is stressful, thereís little time or energy to do other meaningful things in the evening or on weekends.  So itís vital that we work at jobs that bring us some fulfillment.

Youíre right that changing her negative focus would change her unhappiness with life. Iím assuming youíve already tried to talk to her about this, with no success.  Try taking a different tack by giving her this column, or a motivational/inspirational book, CD, or DVD.  My current recommendations are:  The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, and Becoming a Better You, by Joel Osteen.  In previous columns, Iíve mentioned other motivational books both classic and new.  See my column, Uplifting Motivational Publications, in the archives section.

Work with your friend on developing an affirmation, which sheíll tell herself every day.  Affirmations set our thoughts along positive lines, which helps us stay focused and obtain our goals.  Florence Scovel Shinn in her book, The Writings of Florence Scovel Shinn, suggests the following affirmation for job satisfaction:  ďI have wonderful work in a wonderful way.  I give wonderful service for wonderful pay.Ē 

Iíve used different affirmations over the course of my life, depending on my needs, how I wanted to grow, or what I wanted to achieve.  The one Iím currently using for myself is: ďMy life is great.Ē 

Maybe your friend canít leave her job at this time, but she still can make plans for the future.  (This will help her feel less stuck in the present.)  Perhaps she can go back to school, even if she only attends one evening class a semester or takes college classes online or over the weekend. 

Iíve often suggested higher education to my clients.  Frequently I get the negative response, ďDo you know how long it will take me?  Ten (or however many) years!  Iíll be fifty-five (or whatever age.)Ē  I reply, ďIn ten years youíll be fifty-five anyway.  You might as well have a college degree to show for it.Ē  Over the years, Iíve had several people take me up on this challenge.  Today they are proud owners of college degrees, even if originally they never thought they could do it.

Sometimes itís a matter of money.  If she saves up enough money, and/or lowers her standard of living, she could leave her current job and find one thatís more meaningful, even if it pays less.  If she has the hope that thereís an end in sight to her awful job (although it might be several years away) she may feel better about the present.  First she needs to find a way to cut her expenses, and start saving money, even if itís only a small amount per paycheck.

Thereís plenty of advice out there about saving money.  (Suze Orman has some great books.)  So Iíll only touch on some basics.  1. Pay off the credit cards (highest interest ones first.)  2. Put five to ten percent of your monthly income into a savings account.  If possible have a salary deduction deposited into your account, so you donít touch ever it.  (Research shows that people who do this are able to adjust their standard of living to the ninety to ninety-five percent less income and not really feel the difference.)  3. Learn how to manage your money and make careful investments, so your savings can make you more money. (This is called passive income.)

Your friend should also be doing a regular exercise program to combat any depression and help her feel better about herself.  Even if she doesnít feel she has time, she can find ways.  For people who tell me they donít have the time or energy, I tell them to start with ten minutes.  Everyone can find 10 minutes to exercise.  Perhaps she can keep a pair of tennis shoes at work and take a walk during her lunch break, or she can climb the stairway at her office building.  And, if you exercise for ten minutes, three times a day, youíre receiving almost the same health benefits of continuous a 30 minute aerobic workout.

My last suggestion is for your friend to become involved in an interesting hobby or charitable work.  Itís important for her to create meaning in her life outside of her job.  Other gratifying activities can provide this. 

Best of luck with reaching out to your friend

Dr. Debra

 

 
Feel free to write me with your questions
.

Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and communication techniques.

To read previous 'Ask Dr. Debra' articles, please visit www.wetnoodleposse.com, where Dr. Debra is a regular contributor, or click here to view the archives.

 

 

 

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