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Anxiety in the Workplace: Overfunctioning

7 Feb

Rest

Let’s take another look at systemic anxiety in the workplace, church, or family, and how we manage our anxiety according to systems theory:

As an oldest child, I tend to deal with stress through overfunctioning, yea, even by being controling at times.  I mentioned underfunctioning the other day, but find it to be quite unsatisfactory as a way to deal with stress.  Overfunctioning WORKS for me.  It takes two forms:  trying to get opinion heard even in areas that are not my province (a.k.a. Bossy Control Freak) and (the most common) throwing myself into my work to a ridiculous degree.  There is a part of me that believes that I have vertigo issues because I could not learn the lesson of knowing when to stop.  Not as a punishment, of course, but as a kindness.  Overfunctioners have difficulty resting in God and His provision.  They (we) tend to make things happen rather than waiting on God.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil–for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep. Psalm 127:2

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety, Psalm 16:8 & 9

So it seems that the balance between the two responses we’ve looked at–underfunctioning and overfunctioning–is to work hard, but know when to stop.  And how do we know when to stop?  Ask God and LISTEN to what he says.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/linhngan/2746415048/

Anxiety in the Workplace: Underfunctioning

4 Feb

Not only working, but working togetherAccording to systems psychology, systems like workplaces, churches, and families can become anxious.  When the system becomes anxious, people normally manage their anxiety in one of five ways:

  • Underfunctioning
  • Overfunctioning
  • Blaming
  • Distancing
  • Gossip, gossip, gossip

I’m quite sure that we’ve experienced many of these personally, and observed all of them from time to time.  Since the last few weeks have been extremely anxious at my job (we’re all feeling crabby) I want to think about what the bible has to say about these responses.  Let’s talk about underfunctioning for a moment.  Underfunctioning is, of course, doing tooo little.  (I teach my students the Goldilocks Principle–a principle I’ve made up.  It’s the idea of searching for the “just right” in everything.) In education we see underfunctioning in the teacher who has given up.  They teach the same lessons over and over again in the same way.  We see it in the teacher who sends the students on to their next class before the bell rings.  The teacher who spends planning periods Internet surfing–and not for innovative teaching ideas.  We see it in the teacher who watches the clock c-r-a-w-l toward the last bell.  This teacher may not do the boring parts of the job just because they don’t like it.

Now, I’m not preaching AT anybody.  I’ve experienced these behaviors myself in the last week.  I messed around with Pinterest just waiting for the bell to ring one afternoon.  I was discouraged, I was crabby, and so I underfunctioned.

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise.  Proverbs 6:6

This week at school I noticed what appeared to be a path left in the grass by a hose.  It was about two inches wide and for some reason drew my attention.  I followed it along, and it dead-ended at a tree.  It obviously wasn’t a hose impressions.  I sat down to watch it and discovered it was an ant highway.  I can’t imagine the work entailed, the back-breaking labor, but the ants had created their very own interstate.  God used this to convict me of my underfunctioning response to workplace stress.  I’m grateful for the many ways he teaches me.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/omar_eduardo/127707517/

Lerner, L. (2004).  Fear and other univited guests:  Tackling the anxiety, fear, and  shame that keeps us from optimal living and loving.  New York, NY:  Harper Collins