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How to survive work, when your personal life is falling apart.

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Even when our life is completely on track, getting things done at work is hard. If this is the case, you probably also now that getting things done on a professional level, is ten times harder when things are not working out that well in our personal life.

But here's the thing. If you're going through something really tough in your personal life right now, know that you are not alone. I am also going through some heavy things, and regardless, I'm still having to make a huge effort to show up to work every morning. I know the humongous amount of effort that it takes to show up every single day, when your body is in some place, but your mind and your heart want to be somewhere else.

I won't dive too deep into what I am going through at the moment, because my sorrows are not what I want to focus on, but I will open up enough so that you know where I am standing right now.

In my own personal life

I've been working a full time engineering job in Denmark for about a year now, and during this time, I shared a flat with 2 roommates who I got to know after moving in. In the past month, a series of unexpected events unchained in such a way, that for my own safety, I decided to move out sooner than planned. In about one week time, I found myself close to homeless and with no important cash flow. To top the cake, due to the unstable situation in my home country Venezuela, my legal situation in Denmark also became somehow uncertain.

I would have to go way behind and way too deep to explain the amount of feelings and emotions that were born in me through this situation. I would say anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment and helplessness, would summarise fairly well how I felt. It was not really about having to find a new place to live in, in no time, but more about how hard I felt that I had been working lately in many areas of my life, to have life slap me on the face in this way.

Thankfully, I have beautiful people in my life that have held me tight and strongly. On one side, I have incredible and loving friends that have offered me their homes for the past month. On the other side, my boyfriend, with whom I hold a long distance relationship, has brought to me nothing but pure joy and peace, with his infinite support and willingness to help.

Having said that, I think this is a good moment to point out that there's a huge difference between the objective experiences that we face, and what they mean to us. For me, this experience has meant a lot more than what it superficially looks like, and although I'm physically safe, I have temporary places to live at, and I even found a beautiful new place to live in (no sharing involved anymore), the mental battle caused by all the uncertainty, and the lack of focus at work, are real.

So here are a few things that I've learned and put to practice over the last weeks, to stay sane during working hours.

1. You're not your normal self right now

What your are going through now, will not last forever. Absolutely everything is temporary. Things may get harder or easier on the go, but they will never be exactly the same as they are today. Allow yourself to go through what life is throwing at you, rather than jumping out of it. The only way to fully learn and grow, is by diving into the experiences that life forces us to embark on.

When we go through unusual things, our body and our heart react. We may get tired more easily, we may want to eat more than usual, we may be more sensitive or moody. These are normal reactions. Allow yourself to feel that way, knowing that this is not who you are as a person, but rather who you are being right now, because of this one situation.

Take this time as an opportunity to be your own case study. Look at yourself. Observe your behaviour, your reactions, your temper, your energy level. Get to know yourself and be patient with your unexpected ways of handling things. Don't expect others to understand yourself and how you feel, when you haven't taken the time to do it yourself. There is nothing more heart warming and peaceful than giving yourself permission to be okay with how you feel.

2. Don't underestimate yourself

There is a big difference between being kind to yourself, and underestimating yourself. Being kind to yourself doesn't mean that you will leave your beautiful heart bleeding on the ground. It means that you will hug yourself for as long as your heart needs it, but you will also give yourself the advice that you would give to your best friend.

Being kind to yourself means giving yourself encouragement to move forward, by reminding yourself of your ability to go back to the person that your normally are. It may not happen in this exact second, but it will happen very soon, as long as we start moving in that direction.

3. Train your ability to be shaken

Life shakes us when we least expect it, and this is not something that we can control. Why? Because we live in constant interaction with our surroundings. Even when we think that we are doing everything right, there is someone who doesn't believe it, and some situation will arise to surprise us off guard.

Tough times are great opportunities to train our ability to be shaken with elegance. Imagine having gone through so many nasty situations, that at some point, they don't make you shake as they did in the beginning. At some point, you will become too good at handling situations in which life goes bananas.

4. Patience, kindness and confidence

The best way to get back on track at work is to combine patience, kindness and confidence.

You need patience to understand that this is something that you are going through, which is out of the ordinary. You need patience to acknowledge the current situation, and handle the pain while it's burning. You need patience to stay sane while all this is happening.

You need kindness to be understanding and accepting of your reactions and behaviours. You need kindness to become more tolerant with your feelings. You need kindness to not kick yourself in the gut when you are not as productive and focused as you would like to be. You need patience to help you see the big picture, and how you are allowed to grow through what is happening to you, with all the emotions and instability that come with that.

You need confidence to build the certainty that tells you that you will come back to yourself. You need to look behind and be proud of the person that you have been, knowing that if this person has existed, it can for sure exist again. You need confidence in the belief that the low that you are in right now, is just a low, it's not you. You will get out of this. You are on your way out. You are going through everything that you need to go through, to be born again on the other side. 

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