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I feel trapped!

I am a contractor in business for myself and many times I wonder if it is all worth the trouble. I have employees I feel obligated to keep. The primary reason I feel like quiting every week is due to "people". I am so tired of bidding jobs. Tired of hearing the complaining of the price and the people I tell it will be 2-3 weeks before I can start the job but then they call in a couple of days to ask when am I coming? Can you come sooner? There are however no complaints on the quality of work the company does.

Financially I cannot afford to hire someone to take on this responsiblity. My day consist of physically and bidding jobs. I come home very late afternoon and sometimes nights, with phone calls to return until bedtime. The main problem is I feel trapped. What can I do?

Can't stand the people!

Docpotter's Reply:

You are, indeed, describing a situation with high burnout potential. the key variables are "feeling trapped", "wondering if it is worth it" - feeling powerless. You are seeing the result. Powerlessness is like poison. It kills the spirit. Yes, you must act.

"People" problems are high on the list of burnout potential situations. Obviously, to continue as a contractor, you must continue to make bids and interface with people - or have someone do it for you.

Taking training in communications and assertiveness could help a lot. Perhaps part of the problem is that you are vague or trying to be a nice guy, for example. Just engaging in the training will be helpful because it will reignite a sense of control. But training is only a temporary shot in the arm.

Part of the problem is self-talk. What you say to yourself about what customers do. The guy who calls after one day, when you told him 3 weeks, for example. What did you say to yourself--in your mind-- about him? It is these statements that are causing the adverse emotional reaction. There are countless ways to think about such situations, but you are thinking about them, that is, talking to yourself about them in ways that make you feel guilty, powerless and angry. You CAN think differently.

You could benefit from working with a counselor who specializes in a "cognative" type approach. Bascially, your self-talk is like a computer program and these people can help you to rewrite that program. It is not easy since it has become so habitual. And you know how hard it is to change an entrenched habit!

But it can be done and then you will be free!

To begin, you could read the work of Ken Keyes, whose best book is Handbook To Higher Consciousness and Albert Ellis' A Guide To Rational Living. Both books focus on rewriting that self-talk.


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