Part 8 How to Survive Work


At the risk of looking like I habitually punch puppies for the laffs, if you’re feeling like the workplace underdog you’ve really got to get over yourself.


Hear me out.



There’s a new guy on the desk next to me.  Turns out he’s the poster boy for self-confidence dripping with a healthy sense of himself. I look upon him with genuine awe, as a creature from a different gene pool. I offer a “hi it’s great you’ve joined the team”, attempting to emulate an essential workplace skill of being able to play nicely with the other children. Niceties are exchanged and he offers to make me a cup of tea to which I respond with the words “I’m good thanks!!”.



My superego lets out a snort and I realise that after a lifetime of wearing a Team Neurotic away kit I’m ready to move beyond a bit of neuro-linguistic programming and say those words with feeling.



The gag effect of saying the word ‘good’ in relationship to myself is the fear of evoking a tsunami of narcissism.



Ooooh get you.



There’s a lot of new research about the growth of narcissism, generations brought up on a diet of celebrity culture and easy credit allowing even people like me, from a field outside Swindon, to feel more successful than we actually are.



So how to feel OK about yourself without coming across as a total fraud?



Let me introduce you to the Geordie Buddha.



On a purely day release basis Surviving Work has been travelling around the UK asking people how they survive work. As someone whose self-esteem default position ranges from ‘I’m not-that-into-me’ to being exiled off the evolutionary scale that’s not a rhetorical question. Just as well then that last week I met Mary.



To save you the train fare Buddha is a cleaner in Newcastle. Despite hiding from education for most of her life because of chronic dyslexia, Mary has cracked self-esteem.



She didn’t know this until she sat in an adult education class and realised that the glossy young man sitting next to her couldn’t spell any better than her.



She’s not a vindictive type but she understood that she’d become so attached to her underdog credentials she’d conceded defeat to anyone with a gcse.



Having sussed this she tried on a bit of narcissism for size, and ended up with a powerful sense of self-esteem. She stopped listening to the internal voice that had kept her in her place and, well, just got over herself.



That’s what we call empowerment comrade. Standing up to the external and internal voices that say you’re a loser.



Mary’s still a cleaner, but not an underdog. In fact she’s doing great, without the capitals or sweating. Sniffing out my gaping chasm of self-love she gave me a squeeze and said “if you spend too much time with the underdogs you become one. Get out more.”



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

Leave a Reply