Last week I went on a mission trip to Oakhurst, CA, with my church family. It was awesome on many spiritual and personal levels. Professionally it was also helpful. There were two things that happened while I was gone that helped me at work this week. First, I relaxed. I wasn't in charge, and I didn't know what was happening most of the time until I was told and I wasn't responsible for much except doing what I was told to do. This was incredibly relaxing, as most of my work right now is self-propelled and I have to worry about things like, "is this the best use of my time?", "How can I do this faster?" Etc. Instead I just worked, and by the time I re-entered my office on Monday morning I didn't have any residual stress left from the previous week. So when the stress of my clients and my coworkers washed over me, I was able to see that not only was my only stress affecting me in any given week, other people's stress was stressing me out! This was a relief because I was starting to feel pretty crazy. I was reminded that most of my feelings are exacerbated by the emotional climate I'm in, which means it's not because there's something wrong me, it's just a side effect of being empathic. This was a relief.
The next thing that helped is I felt competent the entire week. I can work in VBS, sing songs, work with kids and teens and show up for Bible Study very easily. I had to pray for a positive attitude a few times, but I never felt like I was being asked to do anything impossible. It was nice to have a week where I wasn't faced with my own inadequacies every day. It was a reminder to me that I am a competent, intelligent, fun person- something I had been forgetting.
So now I'm back at work. I feel the waves of stress lapping at my toes, and I try to ignore them and calm myself down. I feel the infringement of inadequacy and try to conquer that, too, with scripture, faith, and prayer. The nice thing is, I don't have to fight this particular fight forever. I get to make a change soon.
I'm starting a new position in August, where I only do assessments. I'm distributing my caseload to other therapists and seeing fewer and fewer clients a week in anticipation of the change. I think this is going to be a great time for me to hone my interviewing skills and also to rest a little from the responsibilty of so many people's problems. My shoulders already feel lighter.