The Fit Student
Volume 25 Issue 16 2017-04-21
I got demoted at work.
Although I’ve been trying to keep workplace anxiety under control with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I didn’t need less stress; I needed better skills. You see, I took a risk and went underqualified into a marketing position. Yes, I soon got demoted, but I also received a potential offer to teach those very skills I lacked—at a college level.
Moreover, despite working in a high-stress environment, I had not one panic attack. Sure, sometimes I would feel anxiety creep up, but I would talk myself down with CBT. Even better, I stumbled on my passion: marketing. I once learned that finding passion helps lower anxiety. So, CBT combined with passion creates a win-win stress-buster.
But if you haven’t found your passion yet, then listen to the signals—even take risks. Do career tests always point to the same job titles? Do you love playing hostess and cheerleading people? Do you thrive on getting slugged in the face and responding with a jab-cross-jab-shin-knee? Then do those things!
Now that I’ve been demoted, I worry a little, but CBT and my unfolding passion keep me in the game. Now I spend my days getting certifications for the skills I need to succeed at my passion.
So, let’s turn to the last bit of CBT insight in this series—with thanks to Gill Garratt’s book ironically titled CBT at Work for Dummies. Garratt’s tips are nuzzled in bold-font; mine puzzle in plain.
Don’t just read about doing something stressful: make it reality. Did you long to master marketing, but felt shy about group work? Don’t let group work—or any obstacle—stop you from trying. (Most everyone hates groupwork.) And if you find yourself reading textbook after textbook on theoretical math, then maybe it’s time to pursue a math degree. Don’t let fear, self-doubt, or stress hold you back.
But sometimes a task is out of reach. You may not have enough skills, enough money, or enough strength—at least at the start. Yet, if you want something bad enough, you’ll either get your goal or get something closely related.
Life meets you where you’re at—and gives you a push.
Imagine future outcomes and use CBT to address concerns. If you want to take nuclear physics, but feel your math skills need work, use CBT to overcome your fears. In other words, accept that you may need to take some basic non-credit math classes to gain confidence. Realize that you may feel overwhelmed with the learning curve, but you can cope. Imagine the best and the worst outcomes, and strategize for both. In short, look to the future and address your concerns—with CBT.
Combine CBT with massage, exercise, reading, music, spirituality, and social clubs. To overcome school-related stress, get a massage from a local massage school. Cheap labor. Also, exercise for an hour a day, at least four days a week. Even create a book club through Meet-Up to discuss academic theories in your discipline.
Create an action plan to get the skills needed for your dream job. If after taking career tests, you discover fund management feels fitting, then craft a plan: enroll in economics classes while subscribing to top-notch economics journals. Also, seek out conferences and professors in your ideal discipline. In other words, gear your education toward landing your dream job.
Read books about famous people who got beaten down but rose above. I know a person who had psychosis but ended up CIO at a bank. And JK Rowling went from living in a vehicle to owning more wealth than the Queen. What can you do? A lot!
A lot of high school dropouts end up grad students. I’m one.
Laugh at yourself. A little self-deprecating humor lowers stress. Try to find the funnies in both your failures and your fixed thinking. Laughter, like water, helps you grow.
So, find your passions and use CBT to calm the nerves. With persistent (but not obsessive) use of CBT, you may find yourself calm while getting an elbow-to-the-nose or a knee-to-the-rib.
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