Part 7 How to survive work
I realised that I had become a crack monkey precisely at 9.40am, Saturday outside the O2 shop on Oxford Street.
My phone broke.
Twenty minutes waiting for the shop to open I sweat at the prospect of explaining my credit rating to a 16 year old boy with half a million followers on twitter. Realising that there’s going to be 24 hours without the prospect of getting people to ‘like’ me, despair sets in. Young man looks into my saucer eyes and gently says “Don’t take this wrong way but have you ever thought about going to AA?”
Not being an alcoholic doesn’t exactly let you off the hook of tackling addiction. Human beings are, well, pussies when it comes to anxiety and most of us will do almost anything to numb ourselves from the pain. It’s the only real explanation for The Great British Menu.
If you don’t believe me put your smart phone right down in front of you and look at it. When a notification of a gripping communication comes in do not pick up the phone. Don’t touch. Just look at it.
Obviously this is not the same thing as being a crack addict but essentially it’s the same script. Without the drug you are nothing.
No surprise then that these addictions are so hard to break, because they sell you a line about life being just one long warm bath and then ruin your self-confidence by convincing you that you can’t live without them.
I’m a big fan of AA because it’s got some rules and sometimes I need a good talking to. The delinquent loon that lives inside me does not rationalize, no nice parental calm explanatory stuff here. Its vocabulary is more limited than a chimp’s and some days it has to be met with a firm hand. And that’s why the 12 steps seem to work, because they speak directly and clearly to the crazed adolescent inside that can’t live without a tweet.
The resilience 12 steps
Step one: start where you are. Really where you really are in life rather than where you’d like to be.
Step two: swallow the fact that you can’t do these steps on your own. Don’t bother fighting against the entire history of human experience on this, it’s a fact.
Step three: acknowledge there are some familiar patterns in your life that you would not put on your CV and that you might have something to do with them
Step four: try not to beat yourself up about it not being entirely someone else’s fault
Step five: have a good cry, really big howler. It’s called remorse
Step six: say sorry to yourself for anything that you think you could have done differently
Step seven: say sorry to the people that matter to you for anything that you think you could have done differently
Step eight: ask for help from someone that you think will understand. If you skip this step you may as well give up now.
Step nine: Don’t hate yourself or other people if the person you ask is not your parent/lover/friend/sibling
Step ten: Put your drug of choice down. Put it down right now and walk away. Then mark the occasion with another good cry or a street party
Step eleven: start your daily campaign to stick up for yourself, damn it
Step twelve: start your global campaign to stick up for anyone else that is part of your life
And when you’re ready you can get cracking by signing the intimacy pledge.
Surviving Work offers free and confidential resources for people who want to become more resilient either in or out of work. 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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