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Job Hell Principle #2: There are Other People you do like - and Other People you don't like.

Your job may be riddled with Other People you do like. Your job may be stuffed and crammed with them like a turkey on Thanksgiving. But let those Other People you don't like rear their ugly heads and suddenly you are in Job Pain.

If the Other Person you don't like is far off and insignificant you can get by with minor injuries, slight bleeding, and a short recovery time. You'll be whistling and chirping like your annoying perky self in no time. But let those evil Other People encroach on your Job Territory and your Job Daily Life and bammo! major hemorrhaging, massive damage to your internal organs, twisting agony and a desire to get out of Job Hell. Ouch! Oh God, you just fucking hate those awful Other People. God, you hate them.

This process of having your Job Life fucked up by Other People is normal, annoying, agonizing, and confusing. It involves elements of surprise, anger, distress, resentment, self-pity, resignation, bewilderment, outrage, helplessness, and often intermittent frustrated attempts at problem-solving followed by cynical despair and hopelessness. All these various elements congealing and coalescing and forming alliances with each other and changing their minds about things are part of what makes Job Hell such a gooey mess. You can try to make rational decisions while in Job Hell but your body will fight you every step of the way - it doesn't feel like being rational - it feels like being surprised, angered, distressed, confused and so on.

Meanwhile, Job Hell will affect your family, your friends, your outlook, your energy level, your optimism and even your philosophy of life. You won't be able to stop bitching and moaning about it and you will produce stomach acid and aches and pains and angst and you will get lots of advice from Other People not connected with your job because they will see you are so fucking unhappy and they will want to do something about it. They will want you to get a different job or stand up and assert yourself or manage your stress better or take up a hobby to relax or hang in there or improve your skills or talk to your boss or what have you. They will hate your Job Hell and wish it would go away and so will you.

So to make it go away we need to look at what's going on inside you that produces Job Hell. Well, actually we don't need to do that, we just need to do something about it, but that's a depressing thought as it involves Decisions and Effort and we want to put those off for as long as possible so that we can continue to complain about our jobs for awhile longer. We are too tired and emotionally frazzled for Decisions and Effort and we just want to whine.

So in the interests of prolonging our whining time and putting off Stressful Life Improvements we are going to talk about the intricate mysteries of wonderful You and your Job Hell. Which brings us to Job Hell Principle #3.

Job Hell Principle #3: Your body does NOT believe in working for a living.

No, your body is not down with that idea at all and it wonders what idiot came up with it. Your body is pre-set by evolution to believe that work is something you engage in in order to reach a goal. It recognizes all kinds of goals and is happy to put little labels on them. Like 'Security is a good thing.' 'I need the money.' 'My job gives me a sense of identity.' 'I am worried about losing my place is society if I am unemployed.' 'I am helping to make the world a better place.' 'I am planning to get rich.' 'My job gives me status and I love status!' 'I am proving my father was wrong when he said I would never amount to anything.' 'I am working to secure necessary foodstuffs for my family.' 'I am working to relieve the incredible boredom and loneliness of hanging around my house all day by myself.' 'A job gives me a sense of independence.' Security, Revenge, Satisfaction, Status, Identity, Fear, Independence, Money, Fulfillment, Pleasure, Creative Self-Expression, Distraction, Impressing Chicks, these things your body understands. What it does not understand is an abstract concept like 'working for a living.' Living - that's breathing in and out, sleeping, laying around, having sex, watching the sunset, that's fucking living. Work, on the other hand, is supposed to be an activity you engage in only intermittently and then to get something you want - like a big house, or a hot meal. As far as your body is concerned the only reason to work is to get your hot little hands on some goodie your body thinks is worth having.

So what happens when you fall into the gooey pit of Job Hell is that your body wakes up and says 'Hey! Where are the fucking goodies? What's going on here?' As long as your body thinks the goodies are rolling in or soon to be rolling in, it will put up with difficulty and long hours and stress, and unpleasantness, and what have you. But when those goodies don't show up -watch out! If you work long and hard for a promotion, and you don't get it - your evolutionary work-suspicious brain stem will pop its head up, narrow its eyes like a cartoon character and get really mad. It will say 'What the fuck?! I only put up with this shit in order to get that goddamn fucking promotion - where the hell is it?' And it will let you know how it feels and you will hear it in your head saying really nasty things to you and you will feel it in your heart and it will not be pleasant.

Now society and employers and so on think that your evolutionary brain stem can always be satisfied by a paycheck. They believe in the rational world of economics. They are wrong. The rational world of economics does not exist. Your evolutionary brain stem does. And it will put it hands on its hips and say to you 'I'm not getting paid enough to put up with this shit!' It will calculate what kind and how many goodies correlate to the effort it is putting forth and if the shit falls short - it is not happy.

It's your brain stem's job to be unhappy. Part of its job is to make sure you are not putting out more than you are getting back - that's a losing proposition for you. And since its job is to protect you, when you are getting the short end of the stick it will get hotter than a chili pepper. And you will hear it gathering itself inside you for a furious storm of resentment. And it will let you know exactly how resentful it feels. And it will keep at you until you rectify the situation, because it's not fucking about to have you keep at some goddamn losing situation like a damn fool. No siree bob.

And all these churning resentment chemicals will make it hard for you to keep your balance and see things objectively or rationally problem-solve. Your body doesn't give a fuck about your balance in this situation or objectivity or problem-solving - it cares about You and You are being screwed to death. Putting out more than you are getting back - humph! - the whole idea makes it so mad it could spit. And even though you are the nicest guy in the world, your evolutionary brain stem has taken its gloves off and made it its number one goal to make you hate your job so bad it is impossible for you to be pleasant to anybody.

Now this would all be relatively simple if you always knew exactly what goodies your body was after. Unfortunately, however, sometimes it completely neglects to tell you because it thinks you ought to automatically know. Let's say for example, you are well-paid, well-respected, and well-liked by everyone except the woman they call The Shark. The Shark does not respect you or anyone. The Shark holds the title Director in your office and the Shark is the Shark.

Well, little did you know that your body had decided a long time ago that an Important Goodie was respect. And if you're not getting it from the Shark it starts thinking your job is a bad deal. And as soon as it starts thinking your job is a bad deal it calls into question the whole idea of working at all, throwing you off balance and completely disorienting you. Because you know you have to work. But your body doesn't think so. And it folds its arms across its chest, saying No Respect, No Work. Which leaves you in a terrible dilemma. You can't just quit. You have a good job. But your evolutionary brain stem will not be mollified. No respect, no work. And now you are in a fight with your brain stem and it is always painful to get in a fight with your brain stem because it holds the magic key to your emotions. And it can turn on those suckers and flood you with unhappiness so fast you're knocked halfway across the room before you know what upset you.

This situation gets even harder if you have a Mixed Goodie Job. Your body will make up a magic secret wish list of Goodies it requires from your job. And this can be a very random and surprising list. Air conditioning. Everybody is polite to me. Reasonable salary. No working on weekends. No one calls me at home. Junior employees suck up to me. Cube where people can't see my computer screen. No loud officemates. And so on. A whole list of things, many of which you didn't know about. You will notice that phrases like 'an opportunity to use my skills in a challenging, growth-oriented environment' often do not appear on this list. Whereas, Close Proximity To In-and-Out Burger might. Your evolutionary brain stem does not give a fuck about anything that might appear on your resume. It cares if people are stealing your office supplies.

Sometimes there is no fucking way to tell what Goodies your brain stem is interested in until one of them suddenly disappears. They move your office twenty minutes further from your home and all of a sudden your job sucks. The balanced calculation of goodies versus baddies your brain stem was making is suddenly thrown off and you are now in the deficit column. It can be a very thin line between Acceptable and I Hate This Place.

This all gets kind of excruciating if your job situation changes for the worse and all of a sudden you are in a Mixed Goodie situation where you have major goodies in the form of short commute, interesting work, and lots of seniority but you are suddenly facing a gigantic fucking nightmare of Baddies in the form of Vastly Increased Responsibility, No Bonus, No Promotion, No Raise, Nothing Good on the Horizon and Annoying Loud Jerk from Hell across from your cube. Now you are scared to give up your existing Goodies but your brain stem is screaming - Where's the hope of future salary increases Goodie? Where's the bonus Goodie? Where's the low-stress Goodie? Where the fuck are the important Goodies? No Goodies, No Work!

And this is where you learn what Goodies really count in your life. You can try to soothe your brain stem with talk of security, stable company, 401K, nice office furnishings, 3 weeks vacation, health benefits, or whatever Goodies you rationally think you have and still your brain stem will scream and stomp like a two-year-old and say I Want A Nice Boss! No Nice Boss, No Work!

Which leads us to Job Hell Principle #4: Rational Considerations Are Not Important in Job Hell Land. Emotional Ones Are.

 

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