Work stress getting you? Is it you or the Job?

Are you falling apart at work?

Is it the stress at work that is causing your depression and anxiety?

So very many people come to me for counseling about their unhappiness on the job.  The problems at work spill over into their life at home. They wonder how much longer they can take it. They don’t know what they will do if they lose this job.

How did it get this way?

Early in your work experiences you look for work. You wonder what you should do, what you can do. Clients tell me they are looking for “anything.” I tell them I have never seen a listing in the want ads for a job doing “anything.”

How did you select that job? Was it something you always wanted to do? Your dream job? Or did you, like so many others, drift into a job because you needed one and then as time goes on you wonder how much longer you can stay on this job. You feel trapped.

Clients tell me that they were told they should take that job. Some relative told them “get it while you can.” Did your family tell you that you were too stupid to do anything else? That you should be glad you got that one?

Lots of people underestimate themselves. They were told that they were stupid or lazy or untalented and they started believing that stuff. They settled for the job they could get rather than pursuing the career they really wanted.

One student in my college class expressed surprise that he got an A. He had been told he was stupid, was not college material. He heard that so often he started to believe it. He had one of the highest scores on the test I had ever seen.

If you doubt your ability you may never try. People, who never try, never achieve. Their dreams pass them by while they settle for something they can do, rather than something they would like to do.

One client recalled starting out on his first job. He was excited to get that one. A cousin worked for a landscape company. The job was putting in sprinkler systems. Lots of hard physical work often in the hot sun. He didn’t have much education; he thought that was all he would ever do.

The years passed. Two, then three children arrived, they lived with relatives and there was never enough money to pay the bills. He grew to hate his job. He hated his life. He drank over his unhappiness. His family fell apart. Still he worked in the sun thinking that was all he could ever do.

We worked together on his drinking problem. We talked about how his unhappiness at work fuelled his alcoholism. He said he didn’t see how he could quit. He quit the drinking but he was miserable. It was the job he was afraid to quit.

One of the more satisfying things I have done in my counseling career was teaching a job skills class in a substance abuse recovery program. Helping people find meaningful, legal ways to earn a living gives them a chance for a new productive life.

Most Professional Counselors are trained to help clients with career development. Helping you find out what your true abilities are. What job would make you truly happy? Learning to set goals that are attainable but reflect your inner goals and values is something a career counselor can help you with.

What would make you happy in your work life? For some people they want to move up in the company they are in. To do that they need to work on themselves, get more training or education. Please do not say you are too old to go back to college. The community colleges in my area are full of people in their mid and later life who are back in class learning new work skills advancing their careers and are ready for a new exciting and productive phase in their life.

Other people are sure they do not want to stay where they are. They may need help in polishing up their interviewing skills or their self-confidence.

If you feel stressed out at work, seriously consider if you have settled for a job instead of the career you want. A good counselor can help you learn to manage your stress but they can also help you explore yourself and see if you just might be capable of a whole lot more than you have given yourself credit for.

If you live in the Fresno or Clovis area of central California consider meeting with me to explore your work stress and the possible career options. If you live outside that area check your local listing for a professional counselor who has experience in “world of work” counseling.

David Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Besides the posts here on you will find over a thousand other posts on the topics of mental healthsubstance use disorderslife coaching and life hacks on our sister blog

For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is here at A list of books I have read and can recommend is at

One thought on “Work stress getting you? Is it you or the Job?

Comments are closed.