I had two different experiences with people and their dogs that taught me a lot about how to handle personal crisis while at work.

The situations were similar.

Two co-workers had dogs that were very sick. The dogs were at the vet and the outcome was bleak.  Both had come into work and were very upset about the circumstances.

That is where the similarity ended.

One colleague spent the day texting in the bathroom, wandering through the office telling others what was up, crying on and off. I got it. They understandably wanted caring and compassion, yet they made it very difficult for people to give it.  It takes a high level of skill to be with a sympathy seeker.  So often the one who is feeling most alone in their pain alienates those wanting to offer empathy.

The other person was also having a hard time with what was happening with their dog. They too were crying softly at their desk.  I knew they were struggling even though they had not told me directly.  I felt deep compassion for them. It seemed easier to offer them comfort even without them having to ask.

The first person stayed at work and made things uncomfortable for me and others for the rest of the day. The other person handled things differently.

That person asked themselves this all-important question:

What do I need to do to take care of myself right now?

One person spent the day miserable and causing disruption.

The other went to their boss and said they could not give 100% at work, given what was happening with their dog.

They asked to take a personal day so they could be at the vet and do other things (like curl up in bed and drink tea perhaps) in order to take care of themselves.

Low Drama and High Self-care

What do I need to do to take care of myself right now?  This is a great question to ask no matter what is happening.

You could be having a very emotional event with a sick pet, an upsetting interaction with a colleague or you could be at a function that is simply not fun.

When you ask yourself what you can do to take care of yourself in that moment you put the power firmly back where it belongs:  in your ability to choose.

  • Do you need to grab an Uber and go home?
  • Do you need a mental health day at that beach?
  • Do you need a hug?
  • Do you need to take a break from the situation and count to 10?
  • Do you need to eat something?

Life throws curveballs. The best thing you can do in that case is reject the high drama and choose high self-care instead.

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Watch a mama dog practice high self-care and teach patience to her pups at the same time