When we get home from work it can be difficult to let go of what happened during the work day. If we haven’t gotten the validation we need at work, it can be tempting to subject our friends and family to a play-by-play narrative of the day’s events.
Work fills our days and we want those we love to understand our work experience, especially when we don’t feel understood at work. It’s also easy to rationalize that when we have held it together all day, when we get home we don’t want to monitor ourselves as we did all day. That’s valid. Home is ideally a safe place. But does recounting each of the day’s aggravations in detail make you feel any better? Probably not.
Obsessing over an issue or incident when we get home may temporarily give us a false sense of control, or make us feel like we are doing our part by staying engaged. But obsessing solves nothing and makes us less in control. Obsessing gives the issue power in our lives and ownership of our time.
There’s a balance between sharing our work experiences with family and friends and letting them go. Of course, in particularly tough times, such as the impending loss of a job, the balance may be tipped to discussing work at home, but you are in control of what you discuss. Are you obsessing, or are you strategizing about how to keep your life moving in the direction you want it to?
In my household, my husband and I instituted a five minute rule. Each person cannot talk about their day-to-day experiences at work, if they are negative, for more than five minutes. This is not because we lack interest in each other’s experiences, but because we want to share our time together in a positive way of our choosing.