Welcome to Solve for Stuck.
Whether or not you identify as someone with lifelong mental health challenges, we’ve all been slammed by the events of the past few years. Whether it’s sex and relationship issues, career conundrums, family struggles, or compulsive behaviors (doom-scrolling anyone?), there’s no area of life that’s immune to stuckness. The good news? There’s a reason we get stuck, and it’s not due to laziness, craziness, or lack of motivation. With just a little bit of information, we can break through even the most stubborn patterns of thinking and doing.
To ask a question about recovering from the last few years, or anything else regarding mental health, reach out to email@example.com
Hi Britt, I’m returning to in-person job work. I think we all got pretty good at doing what we do over Slack and Zoom and, honestly, I’m not really sure why we’re doing this? It seems like we got better at doing this job in this time period by cutting out a lot of the middle-man level stuff. Essentially, I’m better at doing this from home with my dog next to me, and I think all of my co-workers are better at it too. We can’t get a good answer for why we need to be back in the office, minus the implication that our boss may not think that we’re doing work if they can’t watch us doing it. I know you’re running this column to talk about how to come out of the fog of this era. I guess this is a two-parter question where I’d like to know how I should handle the call to come back to work, and how I should feel about it internally? Should I be normal about this or am I right to think this still isn’t the time? Anyway, the second part is to ask how I should be mentally chill internally as all of this happens?
Dear Gloomy Zoomy,
First of all, “normal” is a total myth. You have the right to feel however you want to feel about returning to the office. For what it’s worth, I agree with you 1000%— I’m an introvert who is very happy working from home with my dog next to me. It’s certainly not hard to understand why fluorescent lighting, shared fridge space and singing happy birthday to Bob in accounting doesn’t appeal to you. The more you try to be mentally chill about something you’re not actually mentally chill about, the worse you’re going to feel. Instead of trying to force “ok-ness” on yourself, consider your choices. Is doing a hybrid week a possibility? Can you apply for an accommodation to work from home? If your company is absolutely unwilling to offer any flexibility whatsoever, it may be time to consider if you really want to stay in this job. With so many people jumping ship during the Great Resignation, you’d likely be in a strong position as a job seeker who wants the option of remote work.
I had just started seeing someone when the pandemic set in, and we tried to keep it going despite an inability to see each other. During a couple of months stretch there, I started to see a series of red flags emerging, not so much in his messages to me, but rather in some of the opinions and stances he was sharing on social media. When we tried to discuss it directly, there was some deflection but never anything I flat out disagreed with. We eventually went our own way without making too much of a fuss over it. Two years later, we’re talking again, but we aren’t talking about That Stuff yet. Would it be reasonable for me to set this aside, and just chalk it up to everyone being a lunatic in some form back then, or should I keep pushing for answers about Tweets from 24 months back?
-Posting Through It
Dear Posting Through It,
Pandemic-related relational lunacy really was a thing. Hoping for your sake that’s all this is! Your question depends on how serious “The Stuff” is that you’re concerned about. If we’re talking Coke vs Pepsi or toilet paper facing out vs in, it might not be that deep and you can definitely set it aside. Even for more pressing matters, it’s important to remember that not every couple needs to hold the same beliefs about everything, and it’s your call which issues are most important to you. That said, if he’s posting racist, homophobic, “storm the Capitol” types of social media rants, I wouldn’t file that under red flag— I’d file that under hard NO.
I’m a student who has had three different study abroad programs cancel on me, due to travel restrictions or case surges, either in our country or theirs. I’m trying to apply for a fourth program—in Greece! I’ve never been!—and I know based on my previous streak that I’ve probably got this in the bag. But I cannot get my shit together to finish the application. Because I’m three-for-three with acceptances but I’m also three-for-three with getting rejected, by fate. How do I convince myself that this is worth my time, this time?
Dear Infinitely Delayed,
Three-for-three fate-based rejections is a bummer. Give yourself lots of permission to be upset and disappointed about that. But instead of trying to gaslight yourself into believing that this time is worth your time, I encourage you to be disgustingly honest—this program could get cancelled too, which would really suck. Instead of “thinking positive” to motivate yourself to finish the application (which almost never works for anyone— you’re not alone!), ask yourself which is worse: Getting accepted into the Greece program only to have it cancelled by fate, or to not apply at all and then have to watch everyone having the time of their life? I suspect the latter.
καλή τύχη (Good luck!)
Follow along with Psychotherapist Britt Frank [MSW, LSCSW, SEP] on Instagram, order her book The Science of Stuck here, or reach out to her practice at The Greenhouse KC. To ask a question about recovering from the last few years, or anything else regarding mental health, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not to be taken as official mental health treatment or professional medical advice.
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