Enmeshment: No Boundaries Between Work And Personal Life

Enmeshment: No Boundaries Between Work And Personal Life

Jobs which lead to ‘enmeshment’, a state where work and personal life become one, are mostly self-determined.

The person is usually not working for someone else in a 9 to 5 role but is in professions that involve one’s identity, like a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur, or lecturer.

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Why we define ourselves by our jobs

bbc.com

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Common signs of enmeshment, when the boundaries between personal life and work are fuzzy, are:

  1. When the job is eating up all their time, with none left for hobbies or family.
  2. When the job is the only thing in the mind, and the only thing to discuss in any conversation.
  3. When the job becomes a person’s only definition.

When our career starts to define our own value, we have enabled our success and failure to directly affect our self-worth, something which can have detrimental effects on our identity.

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The problem with a career-centric identity is that it makes the person dependent on an external factor: Their work.

When people who base their whole identity on their job are laid off, transferred or downsized, they face an existential crisis. Many have poor coping skills to handle change, and change is always happening.

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The ongoing pandemic, as any global crisis, is disrupting most elements of our lives, including our work. Many are forced to try something new and are seeking a new identification.

Many are evaluating their lives for true meaning and purpose, leading to a disidentification from their job titles. It is a realization that we are not just our work.

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It is good to love what you do, and find something to do that you really love doing. Most people who rigidly follow their professional ‘calling’ dictated by their upbringing, society or who they are, set themselves up for dissatisfaction, as they believe they have failed if life isn’t perfect.

Even the pressure to find the ‘calling’ can make youngsters depressed and anxious. The solution is to diversify your life, and eventually diversify yourself.

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