Carolyn Phelps, Ph.D

February 3, 2015

I have been absent from the blog-o-sphere, tending to some self care. So I’m doing a mash-up from the last 3 episodes.


I’ll answer the question first:  “What do you do if you don’t like your supervisor or don’t trust your supervisor? “

Here’s the deal: at the end of the day we need to think about what we can manage. What I know is that not liking or trusting our supervisor doesn’t absolve us from meeting our responsibilities. We are still obligated to interact with our boss in a respectful manner and our boss still gets to tell us what to do. Because s/he he is the boss.  The military expression is: “you salute the rank not the man.” Clearly, that expression is from another era when there were few women in the military in a “rank saluting” position, but you get the drift. So I think where we get in trouble is: we spend a LOT of time at work. So not liking people we have to work with is HARD. And sooner or later, in that situation we need to ask ourselves these questions: Can I be the person I want to be in that circumstance? How much does it cost me to stay? And do I have the stress management bank account to cover that cost? Is this a deal breaker and do I need to move on? Is this my opportunity to disentangle myself from inertia and move on? Staying in bad situations generally is not good for us, so if we do not have some way to rectify this and be at peace with this in our own mind, we need to think about the moving on. Of course all of this assumes there has been an attempt to work it through. A lot of people will say “It’s not that easy.” To which I respond. Of course not!! But let’s face it – staying in a not good fit is not easy either. It is up to all of us to decide if we would rather be happy. And to take the responsibility to as Captain Kirk from Star Trek said “Make it so!”

I asked some folks what their tips would be about being a good employee/coworker/boss. Here are the best, in no particular order:

  1. THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR TREATING PEOPLE BADLY.           People were eager to make sure that I understood this applied to everyone on the job. I have to say I agree.
  2. COMPLAINING ABOUT WHO TOOK THE LAST (FILL IN YOUR FAVORITE ITEM) IS A FIRST WORLD PROBLEM. We might all agree that this should change, but probably doesn’t have to be approached with the energy of “stopping the spread of the Ebola virus.” Unless that’s ACTUALLY your job.
  3. DON’T EAT OTHER PEOPLE’S LUNCHES FROM THE FRIDGE. (A lot of people offered this one up. Apparently if we could all just figure this one out, job satisfaction would sky rocket.)
  4. YOU KNOW WHEN YOU HAVEN’T DONE YOUR BEST. DON’T TRY TO MAKE IT BETTER, BECAUSE MOST OF US KNOW TOO. I love the reminder that this person offered “Stop trying to fool us – that’s worse than you not doing your best in the first place. We’ll forgive the not doing your best because we all have bad days. But the trying to sell us a bill of goods about it?? Really?!
  6. YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME TO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU. ALWAYS. Yeah , basically all those manners your parents taught you? Don’t leave them at home. Pack them , along with your lunch and bring ‘em to work.
  7. IF YOU CANNOT LAUGH ONCE A DAY WHEN YOU ARE AT WORK, FIND A NEW JOB. This does not depend on having a stress free job. It depends on having a mindset that seeks out the good. And just for the record: this is a laughing with, not a laughing at.
  8. IF YOU’VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SAME THING FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS AND IT HASN’T CHANGED, CHANCES ARE IT ISN’T GONNA. AND PEOPLE ARE SICK OF LISTENING. You know who you are. Maybe 20 years is too generous. I think most of us were sick of it at the 10 year mark.
  9. IF YOU KEEP SAYING,”I SHOULD GET A NEW JOB.” MAYBE YOU SHOULD. We’re not talking about the situation where everyone is out laughing and you say this laughing and you know you don’t mean it and it’s a good time.
  10. THE ONLY PERSON WHO DOESN’T IRRITATE YOU AT SOME POINT, IS YOU. This is true at home too, in case you haven’t noticed. Ah yes, the practice of patience and tolerance – work gives us many opportunities for both.
  11. WE’RE NEVER AS BAD AS WE IMAGINE. OR AS GOOD AS WE IMAGINE. That one comes from my producer. I was really crestfallen about the 2nd half of that equation.
  12. EVERYBODY MATTERS. INCLUDING THE PERSON WHO ATE MY LUNCH WITHOUT ASKING. Gotta love the attitude. All of us probably need to practice this a little more.
  13. SOMEDAYS AT WORK YOU WILL NEED TO BE FORGIVING. OTHERDAYS, YOU WILL NEED TO BE FORGIVEN. Just a friendly reminder, that try as we will, perfection just ain’t our thing as humans. So we’re gonna need some loving kindness coming our way sooner or later.
  14. UNLESS YOU ARE IN THE PROCESS OF SAVING SOMEONE’S LIFE, THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO YELL. It’s ok to sound angry as long as it is respectful. But if you want to maximize getting what you want (and who doesn’t), then think about how you would want someone to say to you, what you are about to say to someone.  BTW: telling you what you need to do better is not “yelling.” All of those participation medals have skewed some people’s perspective on this.
  15. BRUSH YOUR TEETH BEFORE YOU COME TO WORK.  I have nothing more to add to this one. Truly.
  16. IF YOU JUST EARNED A DWI, MAYBE NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO POST PICTURES OF YOURSELF ON FACEBOOK DRINKING. Actually, if you’re looking for a job, take down all of those pictures of you drinking. (And if you’re the one with a DWI and Facebook photos of you drinking – you may be looking for a job sooner than you think.)


Take home message #1: There’s no more 1 and done conversations. And if you are thinking of avoiding that and just giving your kid a pamphlet because that’s what your parents did and it all kind of worked out, think again.

Take home message #2: Hard conversations feel awkward, until you have had enough that they don’t. This is the “more you do this, the easier it gets.” Even when the topic is difficult and you have to think through where you really stand or what you really want to communicate – at least the concept of talking about it and the actual moving your lips with sound effects gets easier with practice. Just like everything in else in this world.

Take home message #3: Learn the technology your kids are using; tend the technology you bring into your home. Sorry, but if you are parenting in 2015, this is a part of your job. And let’s get a few things straight: the computers and smartphones  and everything else in the house is yours. Not theirs.  So if you do not want Sally to be on the phone at 11 at night, then maybe the house rule is “Phones are surrendered when you go to bed.”  And you better have locks and blocks on electronics: otherwise your curious 7 year old will type something into a search that will pull up all manner of pornography,  in a way that will make you shriek. (BTW: if this happens to you, the advice is that you get your phone wiped lest you be accused of things that are not true.) While we’re at it: you do realize that if you google search “talking to my kids about sex.” You are likely to get sent to some child pornography sites AND the FBI will become highly interested in your every move. Might want to avoid that.


The big take home? One size fits no one. Nobody. No how. No way. There’s no such thing as 28 days and done. OR as I like to say “Well, it’s a process.” But it IS a process. So we should be realistic about that, instead of judgmental. And no one does ANYTHING perfectly. Why would the process of getting sober be any different?

Lots of questions, so here is the Q and A:

Q: Addicted granddaughter committed suicide. What can we as a family do?

A: First grieve.  St Mary’s Grief Center has special grief support for survivor’s of a death by suicide. They are wonderful – check out to see if it is for you. Other families will do things like participate in a recovery walk in their loved one’s honor. Also check out NAMI and the family and suicide survivor support programs they have.

Q: Person worried about becoming addicted to her opiod pain medication which she has been  prescribed for a long time. And then someone was wanting to know how to reduce safely the benzodiapine medication prescribed.

A: Talk to your doctor. Talk about options. There are many non-pharmaceutical remedies to managing chronic pain and anxiety. EH has a pain management program. Talk to someone if that might be right for you. And there are a hundred and one non medication solutions to anxiety that a therapist can help you learn. All of this requires work and diligence and is not easy at first. But, and as with all things, becomes easier over time with practice. Funny how that works.


Thursday: Bipolar Disorder – with a great interview….hope you’ll be there!

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