The Ground Rules: How to Argue with Yourself About Your Work Life

Art: Monica Bond @

As many of us are, I am particularly hard on myself when it comes to work life. I participate in egregious inner conversations concerning a host of topics; including an inability to tolerate boredom and a long-standing uneasiness speaking in front of large groups. When these arguments arise, I am particularly unfair and inflexible. Admittedly, these conversations are infrequent, but are surely damaging.

Being hard on yourself isn’t a rarity — but it is can weaken your work life core. Indeed, we all have bad days and weeks. We all have relative weaknesses. We all have doubts about ourselves and an armory of bruising experiences that could feed that opinion. Yes, from time to time, we all participate in “inner speak” that does us no favors. But, how do we prevent this dynamic from becoming a habit? How do we stop the assessment of ourselves from becoming rigid or petrified? How do we shift (even slightly) our deepest doubts about our own work lives to avoid a deeper fissure?

We might learn something from how we share our broader views and values on subjects other than work life. Moreover, the process of conversing effectively about our own career internally, can benefit from some sage old wisdom & research.

  • Commit to fighting fair. Closing yourself off to a competing or more positive view, will encourage long-standing damage. (Bringing up a highlight reel of every blunder or failure, will not help you overcome a fissure in your foundation.) Make a pact with yourself to construct an equally powerful positive reel to combat negative arguments and soften the dialogue.
  • Examine what lives behind the doubt. Where there is smoke, there is often fire. Look at the contributing events that may have caused the fissure to develop. What really happened? How can you be instrumental, not helpless — in preventing a similar situation? Mitigate the effects as soon as possible. You can take responsibility for your own contribution, without losing respect for yourself.
  • Don’t throw yourself overboard. Know when to engage in this internal argument. It is easy to throw up our hands and launch into extreme negativity, when you are at your worst (in the midst of the challenge or issue). Try to avoid the entire argument, until your environment is more stable. Calmer minds prevail — and help you move to the the other side of the argument.

Ultimately, our work life core is ours to protect and nurture. Make it a priority to always fight fair.

About the Artist: Monica Bond is a New York-based illustration artist, working with both analog and digital techniques to create art from the soul. In each piece she emphasizes the message, “this moment is your life.” Her passion for creating art became the driving force of her own life when she discovered that the artistic process itself brought her purpose and peace. Monica grew up between Milan and New York, went to college in Rome and now lives outside New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Marla Gottschalk is an I/O Psychologist & work life blogger who explores core stability and the dynamic nature of work life. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her practice helps people, teams & organizations build stronger work life foundations through the practice of core stability. Her thoughts on work life have also appeared at the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, BBC Work Life, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

One thought on “The Ground Rules: How to Argue with Yourself About Your Work Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s