Your Job Affects Your Self-Esteem: Make It a Positive Effect
Friday, October 13 2017 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Your job affects your self-esteem in both positive and negative ways. Many people today report more dissatisfaction with their jobs, and this impacts them even when they aren't working. Do you feel unhappy or energetically drained by the work you do? If so, there are a few things you can do to protect your self-worth and your energy. You can't stop your job from affecting your self-esteem, but you can do things that balance any negativity.
Why Your Job Affects Your Self-Esteem
I've heard from many of you on Facebook Live and in emails that work is a massive source of stress and interferes significantly with your self-esteem. In the United States, we spend more hours at work than with our families and friends. If your job isn't satisfying or you work with toxic people who are unpleasant or disrespectful, it can be hard to get up each day and try to "think optimistically."
It's likely that you spend more time at your job than you do with your friends or family, and your environment impacts the way you feel. So of course, your job affects your self-esteem especially if you are working with people who disrespect you. "When I leave the office for appointments, my colleagues look at me and roll their eyes, and I can tell they are talking about me behind my back," said a client. She started to feel anxiety and dread even when she wasn't in the office. This environment was toxic for her self-esteem and she wound up going to a different department within the company, the bullying by colleagues was too much to bear.
Tips to Help Your Job Affect Your Self-Esteem Positively
Reframe How You Think About Work
If you notice that your job affects your self-esteem in a negative way, try to do something about it before it takes over your entire life. Remember you have a higher purpose within your role. If your boss is a jerk, or you're not getting paid enough this is hard to do but possible. When we fixate on the negative in our jobs, it just amplifies it. I don't suggest to ignore what you don't like, instead, try to look at what this situation allows for you do to for others can make the experience today less draining and daunting.
For example, if you are a cashier you are interacting with people very often. Your mood can directly impact theirs. If you are smiling, start a conversation or act interested, you helping that person see that there is love in the world. No matter what position you have, you can use your energy to try and help others in each interaction. When I'm answering emails, I tend to take a few extra minutes to make sure I am friendly and show the recipient that I am interested in them and care.
If you work for a huge corporation, you may feel like the work you do isn't directly helping people, but think about how when you do your job you are directly impacting others employment. Say you place an order for someone, and other people have to fulfill it. You clean up a mess someone made, and you are creating a safe and pleasant environment for others. Your job has a purpose, and if you may learn that it no longer is enough to fulfill you, that's a sign to move on.
Try to remember that this job is a stepping stone, not the final destination. Whether you're 65 or 15, a doctor or a babysitter you are learning from each experience and growing into the best position for you. Your parents may have had the same job their whole lives, but that isn't what the world is like anymore. Would you rather be happy at several different positions, growing along the way or stuck in a job that sucks the life out of you?
Create a Work-Life Balance
Find activities outside of work that are fun and supportive. If your job affects your self-esteem in a negative way, you need to get some distance and clarity after-hours. Find an activity or group to take part in, community service, church, arts and crafts, an intramural sports team or a support group. Interacting with people that have something in common with you helps create more positive self-esteem and reminds you that your job isn't everything.
A friend of mine was an established attorney who hated her position. After years of dragging herself to a workplace that disrespected her and clients who yelled at her she decided to quit. Months before, she started boxing at a local gym. She had the confidence to finally hand in her letter of resignation due to the emotional support she gained from her community in boxing. The friends she made also helped her find some work while she figured out what she wanted to do next. She was finally able to feel her self-esteem grow when she was out of a toxic work environment.
Remember, your job doesn't define you. Many people in today's world consider their career to be their source of happiness and self-esteem, but this is fleeting. Your title, your company, your role doesn't make you better or less than anyone. You can have a Ph.D. or be the intern and still be miserable. It's dangerous for people to put all their energy and worth into a position and makes one believe that they are only worthy due to their jobs; you are worthy because you exist.