Emotional Labor

Sometimes it’s not the amount of tasks that need to be completed.

Sometimes it’s not how complicated the tasks are to be completed.

Sometimes it’s not the fact that you don’t even know where to start.

Sometimes the challenge is the fact that we are scared of doing something.

We’re afraid of the outcome. Will this work?

We’re afraid of the conflict this will bring. How are they going to react?

We’re afraid to admit the truth, but are left with no choice. How is this going to end up?

In my experience, it’s no more difficult to deal with these types of situations at work than it is at home. Stress is stress, right? Certainly some topics are more severe than others, but what I’m talking about are the decisions/conversations/new directions that end up changing trajectory over time.

Like telling your family you took a new job or when your business moves to a new location or city. That’s not a one time decision, it effects many people for a very long period of time.

Like realizing that even though something has been happening and even though you knew it wasn’t great, you let it slide until it becomes so overwhelming you can’t ignore it any more. Health issues come to mind in this circumstance. I’m sure many people experienced this first-hand or know someone who fits this scenario.

You could also think of this like a slow leak in the basement. Undetecetable at first until you find yourself knee-deep in a household lake. Something you can’t ignore.

Emotional labor is dancing with the fear of the unknown, knowing it’s better to move through rather than around.

Emotional labor is doing something even though you know it’s difficult.

Emotional labor is making a difficult decision at work, knowing your decisions will have lasting effects on many people for years to come.

Emotional labor is being honest with your family about your feelings and accepting whatever reaction they might have to your words. It’s scary writing these words, knowing this is the truth.

It doesn’t get easier, dealing with this fear of uncertainty. I think you do get more used to feeling awkward and get better at controlling the controllables, the more you do dance with the fear. You get used to the tight chest, the sweaty palms. The increased heartrate. It’s still scary, but you’re familiar with that feeling. The outcomes are still always unknown. At least you know you did your best, lead with honesty and integrity and have more experience for the next decision that comes your way.

I’m grateful for the people in my life who give me the space to be honest and who are honest with me. Thank you.

Go forth.

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