Using An EAP – Employee Assistance Program

A lot of readers might not know that when you work at a job you might have support options in place within the company you work for.

This is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that some businesses offer. There is no cost to talk to an EAP counselor.

For any kind of stress at work or home that is impacting your success on the job the EAP counselor can help you with resources at your disposal.

In 1991 at my first job I talked to an EAP counselor for one session or possibly it was for two sessions.

The point is that challenges on the job can be managed better with the available EAP support you might have.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to talk about different kinds of jobs.

Getting and Accepting Support

My goal is to share the insight I’ve gained with blog readers and followers.

What’s true: success often hinges on collaboration and cooperation.

Before you can be successful at a job or any other endeavor it pays to have a support network in place.

In society for everyone regardless of our challenge type getting support isn’t easy.

For a lot of us accepting support turns out to be hard.

My thinking might be off base. Yet I think too many people are so wrapped up in living for their self-gain that they don’t care about taking time out to help others who could use a hand.

The myth of the rugged individual has persisted in America for too long.

You’re told your weak if you don’t buck up and handle your business on your own.

Only when you could use an assist hardly anyone is willing to come forth to aid you.

This dynamic is a far worse condition than any type of stigma in countering a person’s success in recovery.

My stance is this: I’ve been here on this Earth over 50 years so far.

My first corporate office job career was an attempt to make the big bucks.

After I crashed and burned working at these jobs that were an ill-fit, I went back to school to have the right-fit career.

What I’ve learned in my over 25 years of employment I gladly share.

The things I know to be true—like the fact that recovery is possible for a significant number of people—I’m willing to share in the blog too.

It’s a myth that “the vast majority” of people can’t recover.

Having support, utilizing self-care, working at some kind of job (even if it’s a dedicated hobby or volunteer work), and doing what you love are tools in the tool kit to use to have a successful recovery.

Recovery starts with getting and accepting support.

It’s time to give the hateful outdated rhetoric the boot.

For too long opposing sides have said and done things to inflame each other.

I’ll end here with this: recovery is easier to achieve with support from others like family, your treatment providers, friends, and lovers.

Having a job you love is easier to obtain using the support and resources that are available.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about support that exists for employees at a company.

How to Retire While You’re Still Working

The radical idea has come to me that a person can “retire” while they’re still working.

The revelation has come that you can’t continue to pin your hopes on achieving something at a future date.

Your happiness shouldn’t be linked to succeeding at getting to a goal.

You should be able to be happy right here right now wherever you are in your life.

You don’t have to like the circumstances you’re under. Yet I don’t think letting the pain rob you of optimism is going to help you heal.

On the contrary: doing what gives you joy can help you heal.

As regards to employment: a person can’t postpone doing something until they retire.

I say: Just Do It today and every day you’re alive.

This is important for having a sense of control over the direction of your life.

It’s imperative to feel good while you’re working.

Not to view retirement as a Get Out of Jail Free monopoly card.

It comes down to allowing yourself to experience real joy at whatever point in your life you are living.

Not numbing the effects of a job you hate with food, drugs, or alcohol.

That’s the point of working at 2 jobs you love instead of one soul-crushing job.

In the coming week I’m going to start posting finance themes under the banner of Money Mondays.

You want to travel to Paris? Make It Happen.

Showing Up As Yourself

In my life when I let the illness define me I thought that doing what “normal” people do would be the cure.

The world tells you what’s acceptable. You think you’re supposed to do these things.

Only you cannot repress your soul and expect to be well. Ill health is the result of being cut off from your true self.

The ultimate goal as I see it in recovery is to become who you are.

Show up as this person wherever you go.

Self-doubt and confidence go hand-in-hand. As I wrote in You Are Not Your Diagnosis:

My employment history shows that one of three things is possible:

  • You’re just starting out and haven’t yet figured out the ideal workplace.
  • You loved your job or career when you started it and today it no longer thrills you.
  • You thought that this particular job or career was the one you wanted. It doesn’t work out and you’re forced to change.

Knowing yourself and what you are suited to do and not do is the key to success.

If you have to act false to yourself on a job you’re rolling a wheel up a hill over and over like Sisyphus in the Greek myth.

I say: get a second job to supplant your primary income rather than continuing to show up as an imposter to a job you’re not happy doing.

If you’re not happy doing your job you won’t be motivated to excel so how can you be effective at it?

This is the definition of “spinning your wheels.”

In a coming blog entry I offer a remedy for dissatisfaction.

Rebelling the Role of “Mental Patient”

It can seem like there’s a glass wall separating people with mental health conditions from others.

It’s like you can see what’s on the other side–“success” “a good life” “a career” “a home”–and the wall stands between you and getting these things.

What is this invisible barrier? Internalized self-stigma brought on by harboring outdated false beliefs about what a person’s life is destined to become after a psychiatric emergency.

Getting to this side involves breaking free of the shackles of guilt and shame.

What I’ve learned I’ll gladly share here. I want to quote from the Introduction to my career handbook so that you might be convinced of the truth: You Are Not Your Diagnosis:

As a young person, I was happy even though my life was less than ideal. Yes—I chose to be happy even when the circumstances of my life were dismal. You can like I did rebel the role of “mental patient.” You are not your diagnosis. You’re a human being with wants, needs, desires, goals, and dreams just like everyone living on earth. It’s a mistake to think your diagnosis limits you forever in what you can do.

Having a diagnosis is often part of the package you present to others yet it isn’t your identity. Defining yourself by your symptoms locks you into a no-win mental straitjacket. Your diagnosis is not a dead end and it doesn’t define you.

A women’s organization I’m a member of used to ask its members: Who are you?

I say: you have the right to choose your identity.

In a coming blog entry I’ll talk about this in more detail.

 

Choosing a Job for Love or Money

Choosing a Job for Love or Money shouldn’t be a toss-up.

Ideally, the job you love will pay a livable salary. When it doesn’t you can drum up a “side hustle.”

The book The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer talks about how to create a second income stream or else create your own full-time business.

Again, using the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions can also help.

The Small Business Administration website can give you information too.

Going into business for yourself or working at an established company is possible.

Clearing hurdles will make it possible to do this.

One hurdle is overcoming resistance to getting any kind of job:

Either countering your own internal roadblocks or that of naysayers who claim it’s not in the cards for you to do what you want.

In the next blog entry I’m going to document a better way.

If any social workers are reading this I would like you to take note.

Recovery and Work

The real deal is that I had to fight for my right to have what other people took for granted: a full-time job and a home of my own.

Here’s what I can tell you when you face resistance to your employment goals or any other goals:

It doesn’t matter what other people think.

If I didn’t set the bar higher for myself early on no one else would’ve set a bar at all for me to reach.

That’s why I say: decide for yourself what to think about your prospects.

Seek to live up to your own expectations no one else’s.

America is a society where people are conditioned to compete against each other.

Thus you can see that not a lot of people are going to have a vested interest in seeing you get the same things that they want.

Remember my review in here of the book Dark Horse:

Success will come via fulfillment not the other way around.

I think it’s time in this blog to talk about money options when it comes to choosing a job you’d like to work at.  More on this in the future.

To give you hope I will relay here what my literary agent wrote in a book proposal:

“The vast majority of people with a mental health issue can work at a job.”

No kidding. I didn’t write that. An outsider did. Yet it’s true.

Learning from Green in BKLYN

I want to talk about not giving up. About going after your goal(s) with gusto.

One scenario from the business world should convince you that taking a risk is well-worth the fear of having it not work out.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Not being successful is no cause for being upset. It’s better to try and have something not work out. Then to not try and wonder what might have been.

In 2009 Elissa Olin opened her business Green in BKLYN in the Clinton Hill neighborhood.

A mentor whose advice she valued told her not to do it because nobody wants anything to do with Brooklyn. That there’s no market for eco-friendly products. That in 10 years the business isn’t going to work.

Fast-forward to today: Olin signed a second 10-year lease on the shop. Her business is booming.

She was able to open up her shop in part because she won Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! competition.

You submit to the yearly contest your business plan. The top business plans selected win cash prizes for the owner to start up their business.

You can go on Brooklyn Public Library’s website and type in PowerUP! in the search box to learn about the competition.

The moral of this story is:

Go after your goal(s) with gusto.

You don’t know unless you risk doing something what is possible.

If you don’t believe me take it from a sports great I’ll quote here to end the blog entry with:

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Be afraid not to try.

— Michael Jordan

Making Changes for the Better

Leo Babauta on his Zen Habits website invokes readers to see:

“The uncertainty and discomfort are a necessary component for us to do anything meaningful.”

Making changes–even when they’re for the better–isn’t always easy. It can be downright hard to try doing something new that has the potential to transform your life and elevate your confidence.

I say: Just Do It. The more you take action the easier it will get to keep taking action.

“A body in motion stays in motion” is the old cliche.

There’s a great lyric in a Vampire Weekend song that is so generic I dare repeat it here because it’s not the exact lyric.

The idea is that a person doesn’t want to live the way they’re living yet they don’t want to die either.

It can be scary to change in any kind of way. Yet I urge you to consider that there’s a way out of the pain by going through it and figuring out what the pain has to teach you.

You can use your pain as the catalyst to figure out your life’s purpose.

My contention is that I was able to heal in part because I placed Service Above Self.

After you have a setback and you’re in recovery from whatever happened you have the choice: to roll over and passively accept a life of pain. Or to do what it takes to heal and be well.

For some of us it will take longer to get to where we want to be. Recovery is not a race nor is it a competition.

Yet the point is you can change for the better at any point along the road of recovery.

To change the world you first have to change yourself–as Michael Jackson so beautifully sang in his song “Man in the Mirror.”

In a coming blog entry I’m going to talk about something Leo Babauta wrote in one of his books years ago.

His theory of focusing on your 5 Commitments I want to apply to recovery.

As hard as it can be living in recovery there’s always hope that you can change your life for the better.

I maintain that focusing on your 5 Commitments in life can be a way to heal and be well.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

The concept of “having an attitude of gratitude” shouldn’t be dismissed or pooh-poohed as a foolish thing.

In an earlier blog entry I revealed that everyone wants to know “What’s in it for me?” when you or I come calling for their time, money, expertise or whatever it is they have that we need to get.

In return you are justified and it is within your right to wonder: “How can I benefit?” when another person asks you for help.

Getting endlessly clobbered for help is all too common when you’re employed.

You simply can’t say yes to every request.

My experience proves that having an attitude of gratitude is the way to go.

It comes down to having good manners. I own a refrigerator magnet that proclaims:

I Hope Manners Are The Next Cool Trend.

You might get what you want initially without thanking a person. Yet you won’t get what you need a second time from that person.

Here’s my experience (fictionalized to protect the person):

A young teen volunteer came back six months after the position ended to ask me to fill out an application for a prestigious intern job in Paris.

(You get the idea even though the details have been changed.)

A year after that this person happened to be where I was working. I asked them: “Did you get the Paris intern position?”

“Yes,” the teen answered then left. Not even a Thank You after the word yes. Not ever a Thank You at the point where they were given the Paris internship.

The sense of entitlement that a lot of young people have and that some people of any age have is astounding. It’s regrettable that good manners have gone the way of roller rinks: etiquette of any kind seems to be non-existent today.

I tell you if you want to succeed: Be the person who says please and thank you.

You might think that having an attitude of gratitude will set you up to be easy prey in the business world.

Yet trust me when I say: nobody you meet will be keen to be used and then discarded like an old shoe.

If you’re working at a job where everything’s cutthroat and people are out for their own gain with no regard for their coworkers:

Is that really where you want to hang your career hat?