It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless on the job, especially if you have to deal with difficult bosses, colleagues and clients, day in, day out.

But it’s time to ditch that victim mentality, take charge of your emotions, adopt a more empowered attitude, and turn negative situations around in your favour.

Here are six scenarios you may relate to:

Feel like a victim?

You always show up to meetings prepared and with great ideas, but you sometimes wonder if it’s worth it, when your ideas always get shot down. You can’t help feeling like nobody on the team appreciates what you have to offer. 

Quit feeling helpless and hopeless!

Instead of putting yourself down or beating yourself up, look at what you can change or control, says Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.

“If your ideas are good then maybe the problem is how you’re delivering or presenting them. Understanding the context of the meeting, your boss’ working style and so on can help you match your ideas to what’s required so that there’s less resistance to what you put forward.

Asking for feedback will help you come up with ideas that appeal to the people who matter. It also shows that you are proactive and have initiative, but that you’re also willing to compromise.”   

Feel like a victim?

You feel like one of your colleagues has it “out” for you. She’s always making sarcastic comments about your work, questions you about taking extra days off, and constantly looks for things to blame you for.

She talks about you behind your back, too. You feel targeted and it’s making it hard for you to do your job. 

Quit feeling hopeless and helpless!

Spend some time evaluating the situation, says Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness.

“In most circumstances, you may assume that your colleague is being unfair and that her remarks will damage your position at work. Or you may think, ‘Why me?’ and that there must be something wrong with you.

However, the problem may not lie with you, because sarcastic and toxic are just what some people are.”

Rather than take her toxicity lying down, you should take appropriate steps to manage the situation. Dr Lim recommends addressing your relationship with your colleague by sharing how you feel and clearing things up.

For all you know, she may not even be aware of how her words and actions are affecting you. Stand your ground and tell her that you’d appreciate it if she treated you with more respect and paid more attention to her own job.  

Photo: 123rf

Feel like a victim?

Your boss constantly nags you about your work and when you try to defend yourself, she snaps at you. You feel like you can’t do anything right by her and are fed-up of figuring out how to make her happy.

You wish you could make your frustration known, but she’s the boss and you don’t want to overstep your boundary. 

Quit feeling helpless and hopeless!

Your boss’ outbursts may not be your fault, so try not to take it personally. “It could be her personality, or maybe she’s just dealing with other problems that have nothing to do with you,” says Daniel.

“However, if this happens regularly, you may want to ask yourself if there is, indeed, something wrong with your work.

If the answer is yes, then see how you can improve. If not, it’s okay to ask your boss questions to understand how she sees things. This also gives you an opportunity to explain why you’ve done something a particular way. Be polite and calm when speaking to her – there’s no need to get defensive.


Feel like a victim?

My work involves having to meet very difficult sales targets. It’s easy to feel defeated at the end of the day if I haven’t been able to meet those targets.

How can I avoid feeling like a failure in my job? 

Quit feeling helpless and hopeless!

Having deadlines and targets to meet can stressful, especially if they can’t be changed. However, Daniel says that you can change how you view your job.

“If you keep focusing on the problems and allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by them, then of course you’re going to feel stressed and defeated,” he explains.

“Instead, I suggest you focus on your daily goals and achievements – for example, maybe you managed to pitch an idea to a client or drew up a good sales proposal; these will boost your sense of self-worth, which will increase your motivation and confidence, and hence your performance.” 

Photo: 123rf

Feel like a victim?

You can’t help taking offence and acting defensively whenever your bosses point out mistakes in your work. You don’t understand why you take criticism and feedback so personally, but you want to stop feeling this way. 

Quit feeling helpless and hopeless!

You may think that your bosses are being unfair or targeting you, or that their criticism is a direct insult towards you, when that’s really not the case. Dr Lim warns against reacting defensively and says to gain some perspective instead.

“While you’re raging internally, remind yourself that getting defensive isn’t useful.

After you’ve calmed down, I suggest looking at the criticism and feedback about your work and evaluating whether it’s constructive. Constructive feedback often includes suggestions on how you can improve. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your work, so there’s no reason to take the criticism or feedback personally.”

Photo: 123rf

Feel like a victim?

You can’t help feeling jealous towards your colleagues – they get promoted ahead of you, are assigned all the best projects, and seem to be treated better by the bosses.

You don’t feel like you’re as good as them and wish you could get rid of your insecurities

Quit feeling helpless and hopeless!

“It’s important to realise that it’s your work that is not as good as your colleagues’. It’s not you that’s not as good,” says Dr Lim.

“The difference here is that ‘you’ as a whole is less likely to change quickly over time, but you can improve your work quickly to make things better in the workplace for yourself.

Your insecurities will not disappear by lamenting about them.

Do what’s useful to improve your work, whether it’s speaking to a peer or supervisor you trust for feedback on why your work isn’t as good as your colleagues’, or observing your colleagues’ work and see what they’re doing right, and then making the necessary changes.”