Mental slavery

This isn’t very PC but there’s a psychic fascist living inside me. He’s called Gary and wears tight squeaky shoes and has a throat-clenched voice. He’s the one that pipes up at 3am asking faux-naïve questions like “are you sure you didn’t mean to alienate an entire industrial sector today with your ill-timed sarcasm?” or “are you angry? You seem angry?”

Cue wake up sweating.

For any of us that have been on the receiving end of a redundancy it’s often not the fact that an employer undervalues our work. Rather that an impending redundancy seems to trigger a tourette of criticism and reflections on how we came to this point – much of it on the theme of why can’t you be well……nicer?

In my case the internal fascist is adept at setting up an Oxford Union debate about my problem with authority at staggering short notice. The house asks, is it my fault? Discuss.

It’s true I admit that I have never laughed at a senior executive joke nor have I knowingly dressed appropriately for staff away days. However, it’s only in the fascist continent of my internal world that this temporary suspension of wisdom counts as a crime against my own humanity.  It may well be bad politiks but its not the workplace equivalent of a 666 birthmark.

Facing redundancy taught me a great deal. That I’m really OK living without eye cream, that I didn’t really like sashimi and there’s a good reason why I never go to the opera. But profoundly it taught me that the attack from my employer only felt so bad because I agreed with them. There is nothing that has been done to me that comes anywhere near the impact of this cheese-grate-my-soul internal commentary about who was to blame for the shame and violence of losing my job.

There’s not much I can do about living in redundant times and the very real prospect of facing this situation again but there is a major battle to be had internally, to evict this internal bully. I’m not doing a CBT on you, nor do I put much store in positive thinking in the wee hours, but I’m up for an argument with the part of me that threatens my chances of bouncing back.


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