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From the Office to the Therapist's Couch: How Trauma Shows Up at Work

Trauma is a pervasive and insidious phenomenon that can affect every aspect of our lives, including our work. Whether we realize it or not, trauma can shape our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors at work, influencing how we perceive ourselves, our colleagues, and our environment. Trauma can also impact our productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction, creating a ripple effect that can affect our career trajectory and our personal life. In this post, we'll explore some of the ways trauma can show up at work, and how we can address it.


Part 1: How Trauma Affects Our Performance


Trauma can affect our ability to focus, concentrate, and remember things, especially if

struggling at work

we're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Trauma can also affect our motivation, self-esteem, and sense of purpose, making it harder for us to find meaning in our work or to pursue our goals. Moreover, trauma can affect our interpersonal skills, such as communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution, as we may struggle with trust, boundaries, and empathy.


Part 2: How Trauma Shapes Our Work Environment


Trauma can also influence the way we perceive and interact with our work environment, including our colleagues, supervisors, and customers. For instance, trauma can trigger hypervigilance, paranoia, or avoidance, leading us to perceive threats where there are none, or to withdraw from social interactions. Trauma can also affect our boundaries, as we may struggle with setting limits, saying no, or asking for help, leading us to take on too much responsibility or to feel resentful towards others.


Part 3: How Trauma Impacts Our Career Development


Trauma can also affect our career development, as it may limit our ability to take risks, seek opportunities, or pursue our dreams. Trauma can also affect our decision-making, as we may struggle with self-doubt, indecision, or self-sabotage, leading us to stay in jobs that are not fulfilling or to miss out on opportunities that could advance our career. Trauma can also affect our job satisfaction, as we may feel stuck, bored, or unappreciated, leading us to burn out or to lose interest in our work.


Part 4: How to Address Trauma at Work


Addressing trauma at work requires a combination of self-awareness, self-care, and support from others. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Seek therapy or counseling to address the root causes of your trauma and to learn coping skills that can help you regulate your emotions and behavior at work.

  • Practice self-care by prioritizing your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, including getting enough sleep, exercise, healthy food, and relaxation.

  • Communicate your needs and boundaries to your colleagues and supervisors, and ask for reasonable accommodations if needed, such as flexible hours, reduced workload, or a quiet space.

  • Build a support network of trusted colleagues, friends, or family members who can listen to you, validate your experiences, and offer guidance or feedback.

  • Consider seeking career coaching or mentoring to help you clarify your goals, strengths, and values, and to develop a plan for your career that aligns with your vision and purpose.

getting help for work burnout

Trauma can have a profound impact on our work, but it doesn't have to define us. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma, we can take steps to address it and to create a work environment that supports our healing and growth. Whether we choose to seek therapy, practice self-care, or seek support from others, we can reclaim our power and resilience at work and beyond.

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