The inner stressor – how personality patterns can intensify the experience of stress
“I’m stressed” is a much-heard response to the question of how things are going at work at the moment. Many people feel stressed and overloaded in their daily work due to work compression and time pressure. Frequently, psychological or even physical stress reactions are also attributed to the fact that “it’s stressful at work”. Frequently, such statements are also associated with a certain degree of pride for one’s own significance for the company and the associated recognition. At the same time, however, they also show that many people are prepared to relate their psychological and physical experience to their professional life situation. But what actually is stress, how does it affect people and how can psychoanalytical business coaching help to develop a better way of dealing with stress?
Stress as a result of evaluations
In general, stress describes a physical or psychological reaction to external stressful situations. Especially in the workplace, we are constantly confronted with various factors that can lead to a stress reaction. Especially in times of globalization and digitalization, not only time pressure and work compression have increased, but also competitive pressure and the associated conflicts in the workplace. Stress reactions that become noticeable mentally but also physically can then be the result. Whether a situation is experienced as stressful or threatening, and thus whether stress reactions are triggered, depends to a large extent on the internal evaluation of the external circumstances. From a psychoanalytic point of view, the experience and evaluation of external situations depends on the internalized relational experiences that we have acquired in the course of our lives. If these early conflictual or overwhelming relational experiences are transferred to the work context – that is, if these relational patterns from our early relationships emerge in the workplace – this can promote the experience of stress.
Old experience meets current circumstances – an example
An example would be that Mr. S comes to coaching because he has too much stress at work and feels pressured by his supervisor. He reports that he has been working in middle management for several years and receives little appreciation from his supervisor. “Although I accomplish so much and always try to please my boss, it is never enough”. He reports that the boss is very critical and cold, and that for his boss the failures and all that he cannot finish in time are in the foreground. Mr. S. also relates that he grew up with a father who had high performance expectations for his son. Although his son always tried to meet his father’s expectations and did well in school, graduated from college, and is now in middle management, his father had no praise or recognition for his son’s accomplishments. These early relationship experiences of Mr. S. are now reflected in his relationship with his boss. Thus, Mr. S. has the constant feeling of not being good enough and never meeting the boss’s expectations. He experiences this as a strong burden and he feels pressured and “stressed” by his boss.
Stress and the way out.
This example shows how early relationship experiences can influence the experience of stress at work. In such situations, it can be helpful to seek psychoanalytic business coaching and to take a closer look at the individual reasons for experiencing stress at work. For Mr. S., this would mean clarifying why the complaints occurred in the first place, where exactly the stress experience occurs, and how he experiences the specific stressful situations. With the help of a psychoanalytical business coach who makes himself available for joint reflection and processing of the relevant situations, internal and external change processes can be initiated and old patterns can be broken. In this way, stress levels can be reduced in the long term.