I left a stressful job and now work as an independent contractor. I just completed a job for an arrogant guy. He isn’t a bad man, but I feel guarded and uncomfortable around him. I keep my composure confident in his presence, but I am nearly always shaken. I just negotiated a small raise (a pittance, not enough to pay a month of bills) because my assignment was more work than I anticipated—although I completed it on time. When I reached out to shake this guy’s hand, he acted like I asked for his kidney. I feel exhausted and angry, like I got taken. I know my anger is related to not being appreciated. A friend said it is childish for adults to think they deserve appreciation. We get paid instead. This throws me. If I were paid what my work is worth, I might feel better. Is it really childish to want to feel appreciated?
It is not childish to want to feel appreciated, but it is childish to expect or demand that level of attention from others and to collapse beneath disappointment when it is not proffered. Your friend is correct that adults receive a paycheck in exchange for our good work. If that income is partnered with employer gratitude, we are doubly blessed. But we cannot fault our employers nor feel slighted if they do not bridge the gap between the recognition we believe the world owes us and what we actually receive.
Here’s the hard truth: It is your job to tend the fire of self-appreciation. Thankfully, it is easier to pat yourself on the back than to manipulate an employer or co-worker into doing it for you. Try these simple self-acknowledgements: (1) Call yourself and leave a grateful message. (2) Keep a file of glowing e-mails, sticky notes or cards and flip through it when you need a boost. (3) Join an organization that collects the accomplishments of members for its newsletter. Send news regularly. (4) Arrange a monthly tea with a friend for the sole purpose of sharing successes. (5) Hire a life coach to cheer you on. I recommend Belma González at www.bcoachingandconsulting.com.
The second part of your problem is the intense feelings that inhabit you in your employer’s presence. Strong emotions are a clue that the situation at hand contains energy from an old wound. Does your employer remind you of a sibling, teacher, minister or parent? Track the emotion to its first source and then re-enter the memory to discover how you contributed to the wound and how it benefited you. That could give you the courage to be forthright in contracts. After all, it is your job to get paid what you think your work is worth.
I thought everything was great with my new guy until he said that we were moving too fast. I hate dating, so when I met him I was happy and went overboard. I am financially secure, and I can afford different activities. This may appear smothering, but I am just tired of doing things alone. Is slowing down good? Should I back off? I was told to play the dating game, which I hate. What do you think?
Why do you think he is lying? He wants to slow down, and, rather than take him at his word, you’re on a spin that reveals you don’t trust him to tell you the truth. Is his behavior unreliable? Or do you only operate on one speed? And why would you even consider engaging in dating games if you hate them? Relationships built on scheming eventually collapse. So, ease off the gas. Downshift into casual dating.