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Should There Be A Line Between Work And Your Personal Life?

Should There Be A Line Between Work And Your Personal Life?

In the working world, there are certain industries that stand out for being highly competitive and cut throat. Examples include the Banking and Finance sector, Start Up’s and IT where anyone can easily be replaced, kicked out and competition is fierce. It becomes every man to himself when climbing the corporate ladder of success. In such a context, many workers become task-oriented and focus only on themselves. A classic dog eat dog world. How can they get the next promotion? What must they do to earn a bigger commission or bonus? Or at least avoid getting replaced or losing their job to the next Ivy League graduate?

Me, Myself and I 

With this shift in the way organizations work, employee behaviors change to adapt, and this individualistic turn impacts relationships greatly. In competitive, stressful jobs (which are increasingly common), we see more superficial relationships and a lack of trust and ruthlessness between co-workers. Some individuals become accustomed to constantly being on their toes, or overly cautious. But when they carry that outside of their professional role, there can be consequences for their lives and relationships.

Have you ever come across co workers behaving in such a competitive way that they tend to keep things to themselves, are task orientated and showing little empathy? Or acting overly cautious, trusting no one and keeping relationships strictly on a ‘work only’ basis? Unfortunately, because of how many organizations are set up, these behaviors are now more common in many.

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What happens after office hours? 

There are many consequences for interpersonal relationships because of how we train ourselves to behave at work. Many people spend between 8-12 hours/day at work, so the behaviors we shape there can carry with us into other parts of life. When we allow this to happen, it can affect the people around us – those in our life outside of work.

We may soon find ourselves becoming detached from our feelings, being reluctant to open up to friends and loved ones because we have become accustomed to not letting our guard down and not trusting people so easily for fear of being used or backstabbed.

Our friendships may become very transactional due to the ‘work only’ relationships that we are used to forming at the work. As a result, we start losing the concept of going beyond, or giving with no strings attached when it comes to treating our loved ones.

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Due to our cautious behavior, we may find that there is less or lack of communication since we do not wish to divulge personal information for fear of someone using it against us. Eventually, we may find that our relationships outside of work are fragmented or distant because there is no longer depth in those relationships.

How to change Me into a Us? 

The ideal situation is to make sure work is separated from personal life. They are supposed to be different. Letting work consume elements of one’s personal life is usually not beneficial for anyone.

Recognising that friends and family outside of work are a source of refuge where we can feel safe to trust and turn to is important. Outside of work, we should be able to de stress and let our guard down, and family/friends are the people that we can trust will not harm us.

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We have to intentionally make an effort to be present when spending time with our loved ones, and not being preoccupied with work thoughts. This will allow us to be ourselves and decrease that competitive edge. Realising that empathy and sincerity is not a sign of weakness is also important in overcoming that mindset of being guarded.

Overall social support is related to increasing happiness and lower stress, overall better mental and physical well-being. If we are already in such a high stress and competitive work environment, friends and loved ones are exactly the people you need to turn to for relief. So communication is crucial in allowing friends to understand what we are going through.

Make love, not war

There might be some need to be overly cautious at work, yes. People might be gunning for us, back-stabbing, gossiping or hoping to get ahead of us. Unfortunately, these things do happen, and increasingly more.

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But simply because such behaviors exist doesn’t mean we need to put up a wall all the time. In fact, if we find ourselves being so guarded at work, we should be more transparent and open to our friends and family outside of work. They don’t need a promotion over us. It’s a safe space, so we should allow ourselves to be part of that.

When we let negative work attitudes influence how we live our day-to-day life, nothing good comes out of it. But if we separate them and understand the need for strong relationships to counter-balance some of the work stress, our well being will improve.

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on September 25, 2019

How to Tell the Social Anxiety Symptoms from Signs of Introversion 

How to Tell the Social Anxiety Symptoms from Signs of Introversion 

The symptoms of social anxiety can be misinterpreted as introversion but they are very different.

Social anxiety is self-induced while introversion is a personality trait. In terms of behaviors and reactions, the two are similar. But, there are also some very big key differences.

A person with social anxiety may feel mentally drained in a crowd full of people and unable to function, yet so can someone who is an introvert given the right circumstances. Both, at times, may feel hindered when it comes time to perform a task or talk with others, but the reasoning behind these feelings is very different.

With both social anxiety and introversion, a person may willingly trying to vanish into the background to escape a party or make excuses to cancel plans.

Communicating and dealing with others can seemingly present the same set of challenges on both sides of the spectrum, but only one of them is an actual issue. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion and give it all the same label, but it’s important to note that they are not the same.

Maybe you have asked yourself why it’s so difficult being with peers or to attend social events without a cluster of symptoms interfering.

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In this case, you could be either an introvert or have social anxiety. In this article, I’ll break down the differences between the two.

The Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety stems from incessant thoughts and unnecessary worries upon entering a room filled with people.

The moment your presence is acknowledged, symptoms begin to wreak their havoc—the sweaty palms, heart racing, and thoughts racing.

A feeling of doom about screwing something up or botching it with an important contact can be enough to make you want to hide under a table.

You might characterize the discomfort as stress or high stakes and not recognize that it’s anxiety driving your symptoms. The biggest difficulty someone with social anxiety faces is communicating with peers, especially if they have speech delays.

You might feel the need to measure up and have more pressure to act normal. You might worry that you’re overdoing everything or over compensating to fit in and get on the same level platform as everybody else. Fears of keeping up with conversation may be plaguing. Mental exhaustion takes its toll and already, you’re drained before anything has started.

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Many people with social anxiety feel as if they are constantly being judged. You may think that someone is rolling their eyes at every word you say. Everyone is opposed to your ideas and your contributions to a conversation, so you end the dialogue or look for excuses to leave the room.

You may also fear that you’ll offend somebody somehow. There are topics you’ll avoid like you would the flu and when the panic comes on, you may experience moments of paralysis. Not to mention that dreaded silence or what I like to call, white noise.

A group of people surrounding you can feel similar to a deer frozen in the headlights. In your mind, simply talking to somebody is the same as over-exerting yourself while exercising. Simply talking to more than one individual is like you’re singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl when all you’re doing is exchanging thoughts and ideas. Still, you’re nerve-wracked and it’s enough to enter the fight or flight response (but really, you just want to flee, now).

According to Psychology Today, when anxiety was first discovered in the seventies and eighties, it was called, phobia. Social anxiety would have been called social phobia. Even if you have it, that doesn’t mean you hate being around people. It also doesn’t mean that you’re afraid to socialize. However, the symptoms can leave you with unnecessary fears and insecurities.

According to the DSM-5, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), there are 10 diagnostic criteria for Social Anxiety disorder. These include:

  1. fear or anxiety specific to social settings, in which a person feels noticed, observed, or scrutinized. In a adult, this could include a first date, a job interview, meeting someone for the first time, delivering an oral presentation, or speaking in a class or meeting. In children, the phobic/avoidant behaviors must occur in settings with peers, rather than adult interactions, and will be expressed in terms of age appropriate distress, such as cringing, crying, or otherwise displaying obvious fear or discomfort.
  2. typically the individual will fear that they will display their anxiety and experience social rejection,
  3. social interaction will consistently provoke distress,
  4. social interactions are either avoided, or painfully and reluctantly endured,
  5. the fear and anxiety will be grossly disproportionate to the actual situation,
  6. the fear, anxiety or other distress around social situations will persist for six months or longer and
  7. cause personal distress and impairment of functioning in one or more domains, such as interpersonal or occupational functioning,
  8. the fear or anxiety cannot be attributed to a medical disorder, substance use, or adverse medication effects or
  9. another mental disorder, and
  10. if another medical condition is present which may cause the individual to be excessively self conscious- e.g., prominent facial scar, the fear and anxiety are either unrelated, or disproportionate. The clinician may also include the specifier that the social anxiety is performance situation specific – e.g., oral presentations (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

As you can see, social anxiety can cause quite a significant disruption in someone’s life. Quite different from simply being an introvert.

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Signs You’re an Introvert

Introverts make up about 50% of the population; while the remainder are extraverts. There is also a term called ambivert, which describes people who fall in the middle of the two. The main differences between introverts and extraverts is the way that they recharge. For example, if an extravert is feeling drained, they may get energized by being around others. If an introvert is drained, they most likely prefer to recharge alone.

Introversion is deeply rooted in someone’s personality. If a child is an introvert, a parent or sibling might also be one. An introvert turns within themselves, their thoughts, and does not generally need to seek stimulation from social interaction.

For many introverts, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in work environments if there is too much commotion. This is also true for someone with social anxiety, which is why you might be having a difficult time distinguishing the two.

An anxious person finds the stimulation mentally exhausting and avoids going to social gatherings at all costs or as less often as possible. An introvert wouldn’t avoid social interaction, but they need time to themselves to unwind, relax, and get to a place where they can shake off stress from their day. Even if you aren’t an introvert, this fact might apply to almost everybody.

Instead of going from work right to a social gathering, introverts may need an hour or two to clear their heads. Or, they may feel drained from a happy hour outing (even if they had fun!) and need to recharge by being alone. Oftentimes, they do still want to socialize, but might be better in smaller groups.

Introverts are often detail oriented, mostly analyzers and are hyper aware of themselves or of others. If critical thinking on a situation is involved, introverts work best alone.

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Other people will often be the ones coming to you for advice or opinions on topics or issues in their lives. If you’re an introvert, you’re also a solutions-oriented person meaning you are your own problem solver, which is a great quality to have.

It’s important to mention that you can, in fact, be an introverted person with social anxiety; but, if you don’t meet the DSM-5 criteria above, then there is a good chance that you’re simply an introvert. And that’s totally okay.

Final Thoughts

Whether you have social anxiety or are an introvert, you possess the abilities to relate and connect with others. You can overcome social anxiety by being out with friends or peers on a more regular basis. Keep a journal and track your trigger symptoms after an afternoon or night out.

Many therapists suggest that the socially anxious individual challenges themselves with questions to ease nerves before leaving the house. Ask yourself if you have in fact ever messed up something so monumental that it ruined your life. You’ll probably find that a lot of other people share the same kind of anxiety as you.

You don’t need to live in fear and skip out on opportunities to avoid humiliation or embarrassment. Anxiety obscures your thinking and judgment and it’s imperative to address and treat the symptoms in a way that is best for you. The brain and mind thrive on routines for a reason—to help you overcome these hurdles and branch out. This also applies to introverts. Try implementing lifestyle practices to minimize stress long before social or work outings.

You can also overcome the anxiety by practicing mindfulness and meditations to ease the symptoms. Affirmations before you go out can rewire the brain and keep you from worrying needlessly. It might be worthwhile to take a theater class to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Enrichment classes might be another useful resource to get you to a better mindset and a way to regularly work on your anxiety. There are many ways to alleviate stress and find balance so you can be successful in future pursuits.

Featured photo credit: mvp via unsplash.com

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