Overcoming Professional Heartache


I recently went through a work situation where I knew I was right… well, I thought I was right… or I felt like I was right but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. I felt like no one listened to me or even asked me for my side of the story. I felt betrayed and hurt by people that I looked up to and on whom I depended. I felt discouraged, disappointed, betrayed, but most of all I felt defeated.

I am a person who thrives on positive energy so it was a very hard time for me. I was at a point where after every positive thought I couldn’t help but think several negative thoughts along the lines of “why bother” or “what’s the point”. Over time, I learned that I was associating my self-worth with my job. Truthfully, when I think back on it, I still get a little emotional but my feelings have significantly improved over time. In the end, what I have learned most is how to improve my personal resilience. While I was working through my experience, I received five amazing pieces of advice from colleagues and friends and they helped me get to a point where now I can now accept what occurred.

1. Stop talking about it– When you are hurt, you talk about it and you keep talking about it. It’s hard to stop. There is this need to rally people to your side or you crave the feeling of validation that you get when someone else agrees with you. It’s good to talk about what you’re going through but at some point, you have to stop. If you don’t, the situation continues to be fresh in your mind and the moment that hurt keeps replaying over and over again.

2. Think of the long game– It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. You should think about the long game and think about how it will affect your future. It’s easy to lash out and tell people how they made you feel, and make them feel just as bad. But what does that gain? How will that affect your future relationships? When you are going through any of these situations, it’s hard to think about the long game but it’s worth taking a step back and really ask yourself if one transgression is worth impacting your long-term career plans.

3. Rub some dirt on it– I actually had someone say that to me and it sounded really insensitive. But thinking back, it’s exactly what I needed and sometimes we all need to hear that. We all need someone to say “get over it” and move on. At the end of the day, situations happen and there is not much you can control – but the one item you can control is your feelings so rub some dirt on it, cope, and move on to something more worthy of your energy and time.

4. You deserve better– This one was a hard one for me. I tend to internalize other people’s criticism but there is really no reason to do so. If possible, try to be objective. Could the person criticizing you be doing so to compensate for his/her own insecurities or could there be a legitimate reason for the criticism? Know the difference and act accordingly.

5. Visualize– To me, this one is a funny piece of advice but it works! If you can think about being happy and surrounded by positive people and be grateful for what you do have, it changes your perspective on everything. It transforms you to a happier place and eventually the past is just that – the past.

Everyone is different but these are the bits of advice that I needed to hear and have worked for me. There is really no formula for heartbreak (although that would be wonderful) but with time and some of these techniques, it gets easier and eventually it will be yesterday’s news.

Just remember, you’re resilient and have the ability to overcome bad situations and let frustrations go.

Lekshmy Sankar is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Dr John Astbury

I find the the lack of ambition that comes with age is a great reassurance. You can see things for what they really are; unimportant. Keep a sense of perspective, with age come resilience and less dependence on others opinion. Expect the worst and anything better is a bonus. That is what public service is all about

Lekshmy Sankar

With age comes reassurance and resilience but I find that it also means less hope. The struggle to not give up and have less hope is hard in the public sector. Then again, what’s the point in being in the public sector if you don’t have hope? 🙂