Everyday we see the same crazy behaviour in work. We think we are intelligent people.  We go to work, become frustrated, stressed and sick with a system that generates feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness and an inability to cope with workloads that spiral out of control. Yet with all our intelligence we don’t see the truth that we are the ones who are investing in and propping up what makes us sick. We actively support the cause of our own distress.

We constantly make work more important than ourselves. We refuse to care for ourselves, working late in the evenings and through the weekend desperate to ‘catch up’. Catching up is a dream. Our drive to ‘be the good’ social worker, teacher, dentist, doctor, plumber, builder, bricklayer, shopkeeper or what ever role we choose in our bid to ‘be the good ‘ is pushing us and we choose to let it be stronger than us. We let the outside, the world tell us how to live, how to breathe and how to be ourselves

We experience the sheer distress that comes from desperately wanting to be the ‘good worker’, but unable to be that because we just can’t match the ideal, the demands or the expectation. We are all invested in doing the job well, we have a picture of what we ‘should’ be able to achieve, it’s what we are told what we ‘should’ be completing but when we come no where near it we feel react. In reaction we beat ourselves up, self-loathe, have poor self-worth, hide in the toilets crying, talk about how we feel sick, tired, exhausted and dis-spirited, talk about how we hate feeling like this, about how crazy it is. Despite all of this we do nothing to stop it. Why? It makes no intelligent sense.


We have on the one hand –

a drive to be good at what we do

on the other hand –

what the world tells us we need, should and demand to be.

Our reaction to this is to try harder, drive ourselves harder, push to catch up but all the time ignoring the uncomfortable truth of how much we are hurting ourselves in the process.

Everyone wants the job to make sense, but it doesn’t. We want to feel we are good at our job, but what is the cost?

Wouldn’t an intelligent person be asking by now –


Why do I think I need to be a ‘good’ anything?

Why is my home life taken up with work?

Why don’t I get any true rest where I’m not worrying about work?

Why do I over eat and over-drink to bury how tired and exhausted I feel?

Why do I get sick so often?

Why do I wake with panic attacks in the middle of the night?

Why am I awake at 3am feeling like I’m in a racing car that’s out of control?

And very pertinently – why do I support a way of working that is making me sick at heart and sick in body?


What if there was a different way to live and work? What if we let go of all our ideals and pictures of what we should be and do? What if we understood that ‘being good’ is killing us?  What if we stopped trusting our intelligence?  After all, how can we possibly trust something that creates such a mess? What if we stopped listening to the outside world and started listening to what our body is telling us? What is stopping us change this?

What is it going to take, to get us to STOP and see there is no sense in what we are doing because it doesn’t make sense?

© Ariana Ray, July 2012

  1. Monica Gillooly said:

    Beautifully put and so pertinent to how I’m working right now, how that drive to be good, to be in control is literally causing untold abuse to my body and I allow it, more I actually feed it. So thank you for a reminder to stop – you’re absolutely right – it doesn’t make sense 🙂


  2. Richard Mills said:

    Hi Ariana, Well said! Lovely inspiration for the Managing Stress course I am facilitating tomorrow. Richard


  3. Jane Keep said:

    Hi Ariana, organisations are realising stress (as they call it) is rising and affecting productivity, so your points are very relevant… for example just recently a headline from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development:

    ‘Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, commented: “It is in employers’ interests to ensure managers have the necessary people management skills to manage and prevent stress. Stress is a major cause of sickness absence and lost productivity and is linked to a higher risk of accidents at work. Prolonged exposure to stress is also linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety and an increased risk of heart disease.’


  4. Hi Ariana

    Thanks for this – it’s good for us to understand that WE are the cause of all our stress!! Carmel Reid – UK


  5. Beverley Brown said:

    Hi Ariana
    Great to see this. A real reminder of how we can get caught up in a “work” environment. Why do we automatically relate work and stress as though they are a married couple that go together?


  6. Michael Goodhart said:

    Fantastic breakdown of the truth of the stress situation for so many people. Great timing too, as I was just having a conversation today with a co-worker who really thought that stress is just a given with certain jobs, and even claimed to enjoy it when he is under pressure to perform for others. This is a great example of how when people are exhausted, they look to stressful situations to pump them back up at the unfortunate expense of their bodies. I countered with “What if stress was merely caused by how we react to various situations in our life?” But to someone who indulges in the thrill of it, and sees it as a “given”, this does not make sense. Too many people accept horrible conditions in their lives like you mentioned so eloquently in your blog.


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