Worrying at the workplace, or experiencing work related anxiety, is the most common feature in our times. Most people bundle their biggest fears into a scary package of nervous anxiety. Worrying is a negative way of thinking about the future. Our brains are continuously imagining the future with obstacles standing in the way of fulfilling our needs or wishes. It looks as though the brain is wired to sabotage the happier present moment, and indulge in worrying thoughts most of the time. There can be endless reasons for worry at work.
Poor cultural ambience in the workplace, job security, excessive demand and unhealthy pressure on performance, fear of transfer to another (less desirable) place, fear of losing control, and many more can be the reasons.
In recent times, going back to the physical office after enjoying the comfort of work-from-home is known to cause worry and distress to many. The negative effects of workplace anxiety are well known. People tend to get irritable or tense for no apparent reason; they become moody, or take to unhealthy habits such as alcoholism, or lose interest in work. Constant worrying affects the eating and sleeping patterns, and affects the person's family life.
Fear, whether normal or otherwise, is the source of anxiety and worry. Normal fear can however be healthy, paving the way for one's progress. For instance, a manager's worry to complete the firm's books of accounts and file tax return within the target date, is healthy. Anxiety of a physician before entering the surgery room to perform a procedure is also healthy.
Such normal fear nudges us to be attentive, plan the work properly, and be respectful of the authority and control system. Our scriptures say that even elements of Nature are subject to normal fear. Wind is said to blow through the fear of Him; the sun rises fearing Him. The celestial chief Indra, Fire and Death are all said to proceed with their duties only out of fear. Thus this 'natural' fear prevails among every creation of the world.
But most persons at the workplace subject themselves to 'unnatural' fear of varying degree. Fear of failure in a task, or fear of loss are common instances stimulating negative emotions. For many, the fear of being judged harshly can be worrisome. Employees facing annual performance appraisals are known to suffer from fear, so managers are called upon to make presentations before a critical audience.
Bhartruhari, the famous poet-philosopher of the 5 century, sums up in his Vairagya Satakam, how fear envelopes every type of human activity.
The poet says, in social position there is fear of falling off; in wealth, there is the fear of hostile usurpers; in honour, there is the fear of humiliation; in enjoyment, there is the fear of disease; in power, there is the fear of foes; in beauty, there is the fear of old age; in scriptural erudition (or professional knowledge), there is the fear of smarter opponents or competitors; and in physical body, there is the fear of death. Everything in this world seems to be attended with fear.
Fear of the Unknown
Many managers are also known to entertain an inexplicable Fear of the Unknown. It springs out of no reason, and envelopes even successful persons in good and happy times, underlining a fear of change. In a recent article on Inner Awakening in Tattvaloka, the reputed Himalayan monk Om Swami wrote about this phenomenon.
You have everything, a career, family, savings and what not, you are even happy for the most part, but you feel something is amiss. In his beautiful hymn Subrahmanya Bhujangam (verse 23), Adi Sankara refers to this indescribable affliction. He says, ‘mama antar hrdistham manah klesam ekam, na hamsi Prabho kim karomi kva yami,’ meaning within the core of my heart lies a mental affliction; Oh Lord, what shall I do, where shall I go?
There are countless self development books that describe techniques to overcome fear and anxiety at the workplace. The advice includes analysing lessons from one's past, equipping oneself better in his or her field of knowledge, discarding selfishness, leading a team with one's strengths, and taking a positive view of one's self-worth.
Bhagavad Gita describes that our restive mind is rooted in our past experiences and likely future events. It always runs after one or the other object, like a drunk monkey aimlessly jumping from one branch to another. While the mind has immense power for the good or for the evil, it has to be harnessed to go beyond by practising to 'see' the source within oneself.
While this Vedantic truth has been conveyed by many masters, perhaps none as forcefully and simply as Sri Ramana Maharshi in recent times. Once a visitor told him, “I am suffering from worries without end, there is no peace for me, though there is nothing wanting for me to be happy”.
The Maharishi asked, “Do these worries affect you in sleep?”. The visitor admitted that they did not. The sage asked him again, “Are you the very same man now, or are you different from him that slept without worry?” “Yes, I am the same person”. The sage then said, “Then surely those worries do not belong to you. It is your own fault if you assume that they are yours.” Such profound wisdom may be difficult to practice by many during the active working phase.
For them, a simple solution is to resort to the power of mantra sastra which aims to provide relief by encouraging the troubled mind to plead for divine grace. One such supreme mantra practised by millions of people is the Rama Mantra that creates a vibrational frequency to change one's physical and mental state in a positive way.
The mantra works unfailingly to answer the distress call of any true devotee, at the workplace or home.
Written by - R. Krishnamurthy