Trapped in job and imprisoned by depression

I hate my job. It's not my dream job to start with, and now I've been doing it for over 10 years...

I hate my job. It’s not my dream job to start with, and now I’ve been doing it for over 10 years. It pays well.

I have a family now — kids need this and that. We have a certain lifestyle, that’s possible because I earn good money. But I feel like I’m backed into a corner. I just hate going to work each day, but don’t want to quit because it pays so well.

I’m getting depressed. What should I do?

One of the things about the road towards depression is that it tries to get us to feel like there are no options — that “backed into the corner” feeling that you have about your job.

Another thing that it likes, is keep a person’s thoughts focused on the negativity of a situation. That way it is much more difficult to consider how to do things in a way that might feel better.

With that in mind, it sounds like the question you are asking is, “How do I keep doing something I don’t enjoy without getting depressed?”

Depression would like you to focus on all of the things about the job that you don’t enjoy. At the same time, the more that you focus on those things, the more that you will feel bad.

Guaranteed.

To keep doing what you are doing and not buy into depression takes some effort and takes some time. It also takes paying attention to what you are thinking.

It might be interesting to experiment for a few months with considering things differently: to standing up to those “ain’t it awful” thoughts. You have nothing to lose. You will be at your job anyways.

So, here are some strategies to experiment with:

1. Keep your eye on the ball.

Really appreciate WHY you are doing the job – lifestyle, wanting to be able to provide in a certain way for your family. Depression would like you to think of those things like millstones — keeping you in a job you don’t like.

So, when your thoughts go to the awfulness, actively put your mind to the gains that you really appreciate. Congratulate yourself with enthusiasm for being able to find a way to provide those things. Not just once, but every time you notice them.

When you are able to get something that you like because of your earnings, tell yourself, “I can have this because of my work and I’m grateful for that.”

Keep your eye on the ball. Every moment that you appreciate what your job brings to you is a moment that you will feel better than if you just let the “ain’t it awful” thoughts dominate.

2. Keep your mind really engaged with the parts of the job that you do like.

Few things are completely awful.

Take a look at the job and ask yourself what parts do you actually like. These are the moments that you want to focus on, particularly when you are in them.

Enjoy them fully. Remind yourself that you get to do them, too. When your mind wants to tell you that you hate your job, remind yourself that you hate only 90 per cent ( or whatever it is) of your job, because 10 per cent you actually like.

Does this make it all better? Of course not.

What it does do however, is soften the negative feelings that you have about the job. If you are looking to feel better in this job, it will be helpful to have all of the better feelings about it that you can.

3. Focus on what you are doing.

Ever noticed being really busy and the day going by fast because of that? Keeping really focused on the work means there is less room for thinking about not liking the work, or being bored. Do this more.

When you go to “the awfulness” or feeling bored, focus back on what you are doing. If you can’t think of anything else to think about, ask yourself what you are seeing, hearing smelling, feeling and tasting, at that particular moment.

If you don’t fill the space in your mind somehow, negative thoughts certainly will do it for you.

There are many things to do to feel better. Try these out for a couple of months and notice the ways you feel better.

You may never love your job, but doing those things will help you to feel better as long as you are doing it. If you notice that depression persists, however, it may be helpful to consult a registered clinical counsellor.

If you wish to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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