What would you do if you owned a small company with 20 employees, and you wanted to increase worker morale and loyalty to the company? If you consulted a Human Resources Specialist, you would most likely get suggestions that revolved around ideas of taking care of your workers and making them feel appreciated, things that would give them a sense of ownership of the company. What would some of these “things” be?
At the top of the list would probably be compensation. You would want to make sure that you pay your people at a fair level consistent with the type of work they do. The level might be defined by pay of workers in similar jobs at other companies. Connected with actual pay, of course, would be policies governing things like vacation and sick-leave, maternity leave (both genders), bonuses, educational supplements, overtime, comp time, etc.
No doubt there would also be suggestions from your consultant to provide opportunities for advancement, alternative training and expansion of skills, plus policies that would give your workers a sense of meaning and significance about what they do. Once again, your consultant would probably focus on actions to help make your workers feel appreciated.
Let’s see if we can translate the human resources (HR) strategy into a personal coping context, and imagine how you might apply basic HR principles to your “life workplace.” We often talk about the importance of developing a coping plan when confronted with specific challenges. Let’s take that notion a step further and apply it in a broader context, moving from a specific hurdle facing you, to a general policy you can take toward yourself as one who “works” at living.
Do you pay yourself enough? Do you occasionally give yourself a “pat on the back” for a job well-done? You should. Don’t overdo it, of course. Limit your “pay” to situations where your persistence, preparation, and effort paid off.
How about “vacation” time, “sick leave,” “personal” days off? Do you indulge yourself now and then, allowing yourself to take a brief timeout from responsibilities and reserve some “me time”? You should.
Do you take actions that allow you to appreciate yourself? Self-appreciation can be much more than a pat on the back. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need that pat: “I did something today that made someone else feel good. That makes me feel good, so I should try and do stuff like that more often.” Tune yourself to be aware of the effect you have on others.
Do you have a sense of loyalty and ownership about your life? That is, do you feel responsible and empowered in your life workplace? Or, are most of your actions and beliefs the result of dependency on others? You must nurture your autonomy and independence so you can be accountable to yourself for the actions you take. That accountability, of course, applies to both your successes and failures.
Just as your company HR consultant zeroed in on policies that would make employees feel appreciated, so must you develop self-directed actions that pay attention to your needs and feelings. These actions must not become so extreme that you drift into narcissism, but should be focused on insuring you do not neglect yourself because you feel you are unworthy. Empowerment, confidence, and autonomy – all essential to effective coping — cannot proceed if you consider yourself unworthy.