Do You Feel Exhausted From Trying to Make Others Around You Feel Comfortable?
Is there a lack of diversity in the spaces you occupy in terms of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion? Does it leave you feeling like a cultural translator? Do you often feel pressure to represent and educate, in a way that goes beyond your job description?
You have spent so much time, money, and effort to excel in the workplace. You do good work, and are often rewarded for it. But sometimes (or a lot of the time) you feel the struggle of being both highly visible and yet invisible. You might feel pressure to change the way you speak, the way you dress, or how you wear your hair to make others comfortable. At work, you may find yourself bothered by certain issues that others brush off, and these issues keep building up.
It’s possible that these feelings and experiences have made work relationships more difficult and have brought you down. You may want to find ways of being in the workplace that better fit your long-term goals, help you build meaningful workplace connections, and address the stress you feel, but perhaps you aren’t quite sure how to make the necessary changes. This can lead you to feel exhausted, question the fit of your workplace, and wonder about the options available to address this near constant sense of discomfort.
Your concerns about navigating these issues at the workplace have likely brought about feelings of anxiety, worry, stress, and frustration. You want to feel more able to show up for yourself in the workplace more genuinely—you just don’t know how in this context.
Social Identity Issues at Work Are Hard
It can be difficult to navigate building your career, addressing your experiences of isolation or discrimination, and keeping your momentum to get to your long-term goals. You have built the skills to do your job well, but you notice that conversations about culture and discrimination in the workplace feel unspoken, problematic, or taboo and are taking a toll. Your training may have taught you how to do your job well, but may not have included how to be an “only” in the workplace.
There is an often unseen weight of navigating identity-related issues in spaces where there is isolation, invisibility, or outright discrimination. Research has shown that feeling tokenized, isolated, or stereotyped takes it toll. To protect yourself, you may found behaviors and mental perspectives that helped you get by. For example, you may have tried to adapt and meet the expectations of others. You may have avoided certain topics or put up an armor. You may have worked hard to be the “bigger” person.
It’s possible that these ways of navigating these stressors worked before, but you are questioning how well they work for you now. You might find it harder to let go of the comments made by your colleagues, or more frustrated by the pressure to be the spokesperson for a large group. These concerns may have left you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted, and it’s impacting how you can show up for yourself and for your work.
Therapy that is attentive to cultural competence and intersectionality can be a powerful tool in these kinds of situations. Therapy can allow you to really explore your concerns and help you identify perspectives and skills tailored to your choices, goals, and social identity experiences.
Counseling Can Help You Understand How to Hold Onto & Protect Your Identity in the Workplace
By participating in counseling grounded in intersectionality and cultural competence, you’re able to receive support, validation, and culturally sensitive interventions to help you on the journey to understanding yourself and what you need to thrive. We can create a partnership where you can truly explore some of these systemic issues and understand how to combat them in a way that works for you.
Because everyone’s story is different, my goal is to recognize and honor your narrative and help you find your way forward. I use a multicultural feminist lens, where I respect my clients’ social identities, their experiences, and goals. This means I make space for how your experiences relating to gender, race, religion, and other important familial and personal factors impact who you are, who you feel “allowed” to be, and who you strive to be. I will give you space to figure out what you want, what others expect of you, and how much those overlap. By working together, we can clarify your goals, identify your strengths, and build skills to help you get to your goals.
Depending on your needs, what we discuss might look different. For example, if through our discussions, we notice that your stress is understandably through the roof because of difficult long-term systemic issues at work, we might want to identify adaptive stress management skills that protect and replenish you. If you’re looking for ways to navigate microaggressions, we might discuss your communication styles, your perception of your workplace, and identify what strategies might best help and protect you. As a therapist, I draw from a wide variety of modalities depending on your needs and learning styles, and often include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and provide psychoeducation, to help you meet your goals.
Because I’ve been working with people on these issues for almost ten years, I know just how possible change can be. I have a PhD in counseling psychology and my background in multicultural feminism gives me a unique perspective on issues of identity and how they can affect a wide variety of individuals’ everyday experiences and mental wellness. I have research and clinical experience working with people of color and sexual minorities, as well as individuals clarifying their path in relation to gender norms or religion.
Due to this background and my experience in the field, I know that living a life that reflects your values and protects your needs is possible. It may take some time, but with a little help, you can build the skills you need to thrive.
You may still have reservations about counseling to understand your social identity concerns in the workplace…
Therapy isn’t for me.
Many people have misconceptions about therapy. They see it as something that’s very passive or don’t understand its value. However, it’s actually a very active and positive process. It can help you restore and protect your mental health and give you a place to discuss any barriers holding you back.
I feel guilty asking for help about this..
You may have come from a family or community that’s been through a lot, and they have coped without going to therapy. It may make you wonder what seeking therapy would say about you. But therapy is a tool—and everyone needs to use different tools to help them heal. Asking for help might be just the thing you need to really address this really difficult situation.
I’m not sure you’ll understand what I’m going through.
This can be an issue for a lot of people—especially if you’ve faced skepticism, rejection, or discrimination in relation to gender, race, sexual identity, or other important parts of your experience. As a woman of color attentive to systemic issues, I have seen how these experiences affect people, and as a professional, I recognize that everyone’s path on how they address these issues is uniquely theirs. That’s why I offer an empathetic space where you can talk about your goals with the understanding that I will honor your history, your experiences, and your goals. We will work together, using your knowledge of your experiences and my knowledge of intersectionality and multicultural psychology, to help you build the skills you need.
You Can Understand Your Social Identity
If you want to discover how to live a life where you feel more energized and able to thrive, I’d love for you to get in touch. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation, which you can schedule through my scheduling form. From there, we can start this journey to clarifying and addressing your concerns together.