Got No Work?
Got No Work? You are not alone. But that doesn’t make us feel better. We need to survive. Remember when we prospered?
Charles Neil has asked me to talk about this and maybe by doing so we can help a fellow woodworker?
The thread that has been going on o the Blog started with Charles’ piece. “So you want to be a professional woodworker?”
Some themes: “don’t quit your day job,” “I love this but…”, “what have I gotten myself into?”
Everyone has a different emotional temperament. I get angry first, and that is why I teach “Anger management.” Some people get anxious first. These are our instinctive survival emotional responses. So when we are threatened we respond in our normal fashion. It works for some and not for others. That is why I have a job. Went back to it to try to survive the times we are in. I really wanted to make furniture. Hmm sound familiar.
You have heard of stress? There is good stress and bad stress. The good stress is finishing the customer’s piece, after screwing up a few times, having time and money problems, yet delivering it, getting paid, and oh yeah the customer loves it as much as we do. Bad stress is; and you can add to this…. No customers (I hate it when people complain that “I have to work.”) Bills, dwindling resources, and some professional people like Charles Niel have a large cost overhead.
All stress, good and bad, can become tiring, frustrating and overwhelming. Been there, done that, myself. What have I done? I have applied the skills that I attempt to teach my clients. All of them are simple to talk about. Just hard to do. Especially when we have been doing the stuff that isn’t working for most of our lives. Woodworkers know what framing means, I like to use the metaphor “Reframing” to get a better visual picture, a plan of action, and a way of measuring what I am doing to see if it works.
Grief over Loss
Kubler Ross wrote a book about “Death and dying”. There are five stages of grief over loss. Face it my ego, self worth, and income were in that image I had of me as a “Cabinet builder,” “furniture maker.” There is loss of self worth, self respect, income, and belief in who we are.
Now that’s where our coping skills come in. Are you the angry Type (like me) or the anxious type? I try to get my clients to self assess what they do when confronted with situations that are overwhelming, and they don’t know what to do.
It is important to know that I am grieving. It is a depressed state. It can immobilize me. I like the phrase I heard years ago….Depression is anger turned inward. I find it is true when we have no way to get it out, or over it.
Stages of Grief are:
Shock and Denial: We tell ourselves “this isn’t real”, or “not me? You can add your own?
Anger and guilt: Balme self or others for the loss. Pick a political party?
Depression: Extreme changes or loss can cause overwhelming feelings. Never saw my father cry. He just left the room.
Resolution: Requires us to go through our feelings, and accept our losses, and continue to live our lives. 911 survivors?
You may find yourself in one of these over your current situation. I sure did. Not easy even when I know the stuff.
What would Charles do?
He has shared what he does over the years. He gets angry. He goes and sits on his porch like a Big Dawg. He talks to Sherri. He comes up with a plan. He makes every effort to “think outside the box.” Then he does “something” Oh yeah my guess he checks to see if it is working for him?
Charles says he gets angry. That’s my way as well. I say, “Do something.” “Take control of what you can.” “Reframe it” (look at it differently). There is more. I also am fond of saying the great phrase “Doing something over and over again and expecting different results is insanity.” Some become anxious and very worried. This can be immobilizing. I make every attempt to have people on both ends learn about assertiveness. It helps to bring us back to the center.
Coping with stress
A coping saw is a hand held manual tool that has been used for years to cope the corners when putting up crown molding. So I think coping is a tool to get things done.
In traumatic events like 911, Katrina, tornadoes, and general disasters, we have ordinary people handling extra ordinary situations. When asked, I attempt to do some emotional first aide for the stress.
When you have not had a problem providing for yourself and your family and you are a professional woodworker, who is in an extra ordinary situation, it is important to check your existing coping skills to see what works. And add a few more to help your brain get clear of all the emotional stuff.
When going through trauma, and it is traumatic to loose your identity, feelings will well up. You can find yourself, not eating, or over eating. Not sleeping or sleeping too much. I find myself and my clients can become deregulated. I work to get us back on track. If you are depressed, you may be turning away from others? You may want to be by yourself? You may drink more than usual? Inactivity can be a big problem. If you were athletic or an active person and your sitting on your butt….Take a walk, in my case shovel more snow.
You can get through grief, but it may be difficult to overcome the feelings, by over-indulging.
Exercise helps us get the crap out of our system that builds up. Remember it is a self protection mechanism of the body to get ready to fight (anger) or flee (anxiety). So if bummed out, get out, and exercise your muscles and get rid of the poison.
When you are tired, bummed out, irritable, worried it is hard to think clearly.
Check out your feelings
Vent and cry if you feel it welling up.
Do the normal activities
Take care of your health
Look at what you may be doing that isn’t working
Find a friend, spouse, family member who you trust to talk to
Share what is bothering you
Talk to God, but don’t ask for favors
Be prepared when those feelings sneak up unexpectedly
Find other woodworkers in your area who might feel as you do
It’s not the macho thing to do, but contact a professional counselor/psychologist/social worker
When you are not feeling overwhelmed, then try to think outside the box. I recommend “What Color is Your Parachute” It’s a self help tool for people wanting to change what they do in working lives. It may help figure out your “other skills.”
It’s all hard to do. I do it every day. Hate whining, especially my own. Find good feelings from your friends, family, pets, but not from drugs or alcohol, which is a whole other story.
Thomas J. Tieffenbacher, M.A., L.P.
Minnesota Licensed Psychologist
-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher