Part 2 How to Survive Work
Sign the Survivors’ Manifesto
Download the manifesto HERE
There is no money back guarantee with mental health. You think you’ve got it cracked and then something gives. Some mornings we wake up not knowing whether to laugh or cry about a full day ahead of faking it. As someone who has never been to a single work’s Christmas party it might seem rather contrary of me to reveal that I’m a big fan of resilience at work.
Resilience means the capacity to cope with and adapt to difficult situations and is going through something of a boom in the recession. Resilience is like a psychic calculator, identifying those risks and protective factors that influence our chances of surviving trauma – anything from having a zero hours contract to working with people you actively hate.
One reason why I like the word resilience is because it’s a rather grown up way of looking at mental health. The Daily Telegraph version of mental health divides the world into crazies and the rest of us, and trots out self-regulation techniques and politely suggests that we change our negative thinking. And don’t, whatever you do, get angry.
This the Mary Poppins elevator pitch for mental illness, offering simple solutions to simplistic problems.
Resilience on the other hand takes a more humane view of struggling with life. Rather than having to choose sides, resilience take a spectrum approach where we are all vulnerable to having mental health problems given enough risks and not enough protections.
Another thing that I like about resilience is that it uses the word ‘trauma’ in its definition. I’ll admit that I am a sucker for catastrophising but it’s a fact for a lot of working people. 5 million people in the UK living on less than a living wage and we have no reasons what so ever to be cheerful.
To make matters worse, if you are unfortunate enough to actually crack up, you’re going to struggle to find good quality mental health services. If you are unable to pay you’ll get a short course on psychological wellbeing or a phone call with an over-qualified agency worker in a mental health call centre.
Demand goes up as supply goes down, a traumatic trend for mental health in the UK.
The idea behind the Surviving Work Library is what we’re calling Radical Resilience, an emancipatory model that says that being well involves a process of development or growing up if you like.
We at Surviving Work take the LAUGH approach to resilience.
We believe that if you want to survive work you need to understand what’s really happening at work and in your life, try to be honest with yourself about that and stop trying to be a superhuman. It means building our sense of agency, something like our belief that we are the gaffers of our own lives but without turning into a natural born liar about being the very model of mental wellbeing.
This requires a bit of emancipation, from our external and internal oppressors, who tell us there’s nothing we can do to break our contract with despair.
More than anything being resilient means getting help from other human beings – from lovers to the guy in accounts that is your union rep.
Yup, if you want to survive work it does all come down to love. So join us and sign up to the Survivor’s manifesto.
The Survivor’s Manifesto
Resilience is the capacity to cope with and adapt to difficult situations. It is not a character trait or an aspect of personality, rather it’s the capacity or state of mind that means we can keep our hands on the steering wheels of our own lives.
We, the Surviving Workers, believe that:
Resilience is democratic and does not discriminate between people who see themselves as mentally ill and those that don’t. We are all vulnerable to losing our resilience when things get tough.
We are all able to influence our resilience, regardless of wealth, looks and luck in life.
Productive work is central to human happiness and it’s the collective responsibility of gaffers and workers to build resilience in the face of the realities of the recession.
Resilience means being brave and taking on the stigma attached to struggling with life.
We are all in the driving seats of our own resilience but we need each other to really nail it.
We the undersigned commit to try and keep trying, to challenge the wilfully destructive internal and external voices that tell us otherwise.
Sign up comrade
We have just set up the Surviving Work Library, a free resource by the real experts, people like yourself who are actually surviving work. There are podcasts, stories and mercifully short guides on how to survive work. All totally and utterly free and anonymous.
We are not purveyors of magic solutions. Nor do we promise to make you thinner or richer. But we will help you survive work
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