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4 Reasons Engineers May Struggle in Therapy

4 Reasons Engineers May Struggle in Therapy

The very thought of engineers in therapy can be a difficult idea for engineers … and often mental health professionals. Engineers want to solve problems in a “shortest path” or optimized approach. Unfortunately, that’s not really how therapy works – even though I would absolutely love it if it did.

Mental health is a critical component of overall wellness. However, finding a mental health provider who understands the unique perspective of logical thinkers can be challenging.

Let’s explore some of the reasons why logical thinkers may struggle to find a mental health provider who understands them.

1. Expressing Emotions

If you’re someone who usually relies on reason and logic, you might find yourself struggling when it comes to emotions. Emotions rarely rely on reason or logic. The idea of just “feel your feelings” is frustrating and not helpful.

I get it. Expressing emotions can be tough because we don’t always see the practicality. We often feel emotions are unimportant or irrelevant to the task at hand. You may ask yourself, “What is the value of dealing with this crap right now?”

We don’t want to fight your goto strength of logic, but rather, maybe we can use it. A more structured and logical approach to facing these feelings may help bridge the gap for you to identify and express your emotions.

Finding a mental health provider who is patient and understanding can be a game-changer. It helps if that provider has been in the field and has some experience with these struggles herself.

2. High Standards

Logical thinkers are known for their analytical and problem-solving skills. They are often able to approach situations in a structured and logical way, which can be helpful in many areas of life. Yet, when it comes to mental health, those high standards can make it difficult to find a therapist who meets their expectations.

One of the main reasons for this is that logical thinkers tend to prioritize methodology. They want to know the therapy process is going to be effective and the therapist has the knowledge and experience to provide the type of treatment they desire. They may also prefer a more structured approach to therapy, with clear goals and measurable outcomes.

If you’re a logical thinker who is looking for a mental health provider, don’t be discouraged. There are therapists out there who understand the unique needs of logical thinkers and who can provide treatment that meets your high standards. Take your time, ask questions, and choose a provider who fits your needs.

3. The Subjective Nature of Mental Health

Mental health can be a complex and multifaceted. While it’s a subjective experience, it’s important to understand that mental wellness is not just the absence of mental illness. Rather, mental wellness is also a state of well-being that allows us to realize our potential and cope with the normal stresses of life.

It’s understandable you may find it difficult to navigate the subjective terrain of mental health. This is not a reflection of your intelligence or capabilities, but rather a reflection of the complexity of mental health. It’s okay to feel uncertain and hesitant about seeking help from a mental health provider.

Through a collaborative approach, you can work together with a therapist to identify objective markers of progress and set achievable goals to ensure continued growth and improvement. A good exercise is to start with defining your Core Values.

Please don’t hesitate to seek out a provider who can provide a healthy and understanding connection. Your mental health is important and you don’t have to face your challenges alone.

4. Asking For Help

Logical thinkers are often hesitant to seek help for their mental health, even though it is just as important as physical health.

It’s okay to feel uncertain and hesitant about seeking help, but it will be worth it. Taking proactive steps towards mental wellness can lead to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Healing is something that happens in relationship. If you truly want to fast track your healing, your emotions must be witnessed. Not an easy task for most engineers – and I’ve received a lot of pushback with this idea.

When you are in the mental health field, it is always amazing how shame, guilt, and all those difficult emotions begin to melt once witnessed.

Asking for help and truly being seen may be the hardest obstacle to overcome, but again, it will be worth it.

Let’s Get it Started

It can be tough to prioritize self-care, especially when you’re used to solving problems on your own. But you don’t have to face your challenges alone.

Do your research, make some phone calls, and schedule an appointment. It may take some time to find a good fit and you may have some false starts. I hope you stick with it because even engineers have emotions.

If you’re a logical thinker who is considering therapy, Dr. Guess may be a good fit for you.

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Healthy Work Boundaries for Engineers: 5 Tips

Healthy Work Boundaries for Engineers: 5 Tips

Engineers are taught to be problem-solvers. They’re trained to find solutions to complex technical issues, but often take little time to focus on their own emotional and physical needs. If this sounds like you, it’s time to look at some work boundaries for engineers.

One of the key aspects of therapy for engineers is setting boundaries. Engineers push themselves to their limits and work long hours to get the job done, but this can take a toll on mental and physical health. In therapy, we can explore how to set boundaries with our time and colleagues.

Here are five ways engineers can set boundaries in the workplace:

1. Work Boundaries for Engineers: Learn to Say “No!”

As engineers, we often feel a sense of obligation to take on more work than we can handle. However, it’s important to recognize that saying “no” to unreasonable requests or projects is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness.

When faced with an unreasonable request or project, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Consider the impact of taking on the additional work on your current workload and mental well-being. If you determine that it will overload your schedule or negatively impact your health, it’s okay to say “no”.

Keep in mind that saying “yes” to a request means that you are saying “no” to countless other possibilities. A “yes” to work the weekend means saying “no” to spending time with your kids, your significant other, or immersing yourself in an activity you love.

Setting boundaries is essential for maintaining your mental and physical health. Saying “no” to unreasonable requests or projects is a crucial part of setting those boundaries and prioritizing your well-being.

2. Work Boundaries for Engineers: Set Realistic Expectations for your Workload

In college we were assigned to read “The Mythical Man Month” by Frederick P. Brooks for an upper-level computer science course. After my shock that we had to read a book in a computer science class, I was grateful because it helped explain what we all experienced in school – everything takes longer than you think especially when it comes to technology.

Even back in the early 90’s, “The Mythical Man Month” was an old book, but it still rings true today. I remember my professor saying, “Whatever time you think it will take to complete a project, multiply it by 10.” During my college days as well as throughout my years as an engineer and an educator I agree – my professor should have done a mic-drop that day in class.

To set realistic expectations for your workload, start by assessing the amount of work you can handle in a given week or day. Consider your current workload, upcoming deadlines, and any other factors that may impact your ability to complete tasks. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically accomplish in a given amount of time – and then multiple it by 10 (only slightly kidding).

Setting realistic expectations for your workload is an important part of setting boundaries and prioritizing your well-being. Communicating these expectations clearly with your colleagues, managers, and important people in your life is key to maintaining a healthy work environment.

3. Work Boundaries for Engineers: Take Regular Breaks

It’s so easy to get caught up in a project and forget to take breaks. We called the hours that disappeared while coding, “In the zone”. We would forget to eat, sleep, or even move. In the computer labs during the 80s and 90s being in the zone was a respected space. “Don’t mess with him, he’s in the zone.” It didn’t help the labs rarely had windows. Labs were like casinos – you never knew if it was day or night.

Even though the 24 hour access given to computer science majors seemed like a necessity, it definitely didn’t do well for our sleeping or eating habits. Exhibit 1: half eaten Cheeto bags and empty cans of Jolt Cola.

Once I graduated and started my first job, I was given a 24 hour keycard access to the building and was encouraged to, “Work whenever you work best.” Which often ended up being “in the zone” much longer than was healthy. Flash forward 20 or 30 years and with constant online access from anywhere, it’s only made things worse.

When we work for extended periods without breaks, our productivity and focus can suffer. This can lead to burnout, which can have serious consequences for our well-being. Taking regular breaks throughout the day is an important part of setting boundaries and prioritizing your well-being.

4. Work Boundaries for Engineers: Prioritize Tasks

As engineers, we often feel pressure to take on more work than we can handle. It’s not always possible to do everything at once, and it’s okay to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. (Remember the Mythical Man Month – everything takes longer than you originally think.)

When faced with multiple tasks, take a step back and assess which are most urgent and important. These tasks should be the ones that you focus on first. If a task is not urgent or important, consider delegating it to another team member or postponing it until a later date.

That being said, it’s okay to ask for help when needed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck on a particular task, don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues or managers for assistance.

Prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance, and delegating or asking for help when needed, is an important part of setting boundaries and maintaining your mental and physical health. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re able to achieve your professional goals while still taking care of yourself.

5. Work Boundaries for Engineers: Work-Life Balance

Logical thinkers often have a tendency to prioritize work above all else. (See this post about discovering your core values). While this can be useful for achieving professional goals, it’s important to remember that we also need to take care of ourselves outside of work.

One way to do this is by creating a work-life balance. Make time for hobbies and social activities outside of work, so you can recharge and focus on your personal well-being. Start by identifying activities you enjoy outside of work. This can include hobbies, such as playing sports or painting, or social activities, such as going out with friends or joining a club.

Once you’ve identified these activities, make time for them in your schedule. This may mean setting aside specific times during the week for these activities, or simply leaving work on time so that you can pursue your hobbies or spend time with friends and family.

Creating a work-life balance is an essential part of setting boundaries and prioritizing your well-being. By taking care of ourselves outside of work, we can be better engineers and better human beings.

You Can Do This!

By following these five tips, logical thinkers can set boundaries that prioritize their mental and physical health. Setting boundaries isn’t selfish – it’s necessary for our long-term well-being.

Looking for mental health support as an engineer? Dr. Guess, with an engineering background and experience working with engineers, can help you set boundaries and navigate workplace challenges.

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