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stressOver the years, I’ve read quite a few books on stress and I’ve heard the same phrase over and over again – “we create our own stress”.  I don’t think that I really appreciated what that meant until recently.

At my workplace, we had a new position created.  The newly created position had exactly the same wording as my current title with a slight rearrangement of those words. My workplace completely fumbled the timing of the release of the information.  It was accidentally released while I was out of the office dealing with a family medical issue.

When I returned, I was assured that my job was safe and that this was indeed a new position. Unfortunately the circumstances surrounding the timing of the release and the similarity of the names of the position,  combined with the groundswell of political opinion at work, suggested otherwise.

Worry Over Job Security

From there, I started to worry about my job security.  I then began to worry about my ability to provide for my family. In addition, I also started to worry that there was some kind of hidden agenda.  I then worried about how to ensure that I sent the right message back to my workplace.

The newly created position title made me feel like I was entitled to the job.  I also felt that my employers were keeping that position from me.  I considered the frequent money issues at home and my length of service at the company.  I considered the several years of my wife’s prompting to request a raise.  I began to feel entitled to receive a raise.

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A Move Out of the Comfort Zone

I’ve been working at this company for 16 years.  I was quite comfortable there.  However, suddenly, I found myself applying for a another job.  This job was under a boss I couldn’t relate to.  This job included some socially confronting duties that I wasn’t comfortable with.

As a person with Asperger’s syndrome (and deafness which makes boardroom interactions very difficult), I found myself trying to move out of my “comfort zone”.  It put a huge amount of stress on me, my family and my team at work.

I found that I couldn’t sleep.  I began to hate work.  All of my conversations felt tinged with negativity and depression. As is common with Asperger’s, I’m prone to strong internal emotions which aren’t always visible to those around me. I began having dark thoughts.  Every time I crossed the road I found myself thinking how much easier life would be if a car came along at just the right time.

We Create Our Own Stress

Fortunately at that time, I happened to be reviewing a book on stress.  This book was pushing the whole idea that “we create our own stress”.  In reading this book, I suddenly realised that I didn’t actually want the new position!  I did not want the added responsibility that came with it!  I could continue to live without a pay increase.  I just needed to be a bit more frugal with expenditure.

Put Happiness First

At home, I had quite a bit of trouble explaining my choice but eventually my wife understood my desire to put happiness first. I contacted the job agency and thanked them for interviewing me.  I told them that I wanted to withdraw my application. They were more than a little surprised.

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Work Through the Logic

Within hours, I began to feel better. I calmly worked through the logic of the situation. If my workplace decided to make me redundant, I knew they’d have to pay me out.  I now knew that I was employable elsewhere.  My recent experience had caused me to update the resume and brush up on my interview skills.  I’d also clarified, in my mind, the kind of job I’d like to do. If my workplace decided to let me go, it would be their loss.  If they decided to keep me, that’s good too.

It’s true. I really was the master of my own stress and I was amazed at how one small decision, could release so much anxiety.  I’ve explained all of this to my children on the spectrum.  It’s a life lesson that I think they could benefit from too.