Ownership, irritation and dissociation

Do you take pride in what you do, in the things you make? I do. This sort of pride is sometimes described as: “feeling ownership”, feeling that something is mine, even feeling that something that I have made is “part of me”. This feeling is generally considered to be a good thing. It increases job satisfaction and motivation.
However, as with everything like this, there can be a down-side. What happens if someone criticises your work? My day-job at present involves creating design documentation for changes to an existing computer system. That means that I have to produce and take responsibility for a mixture of documents, some new (I created them) and some old (I updated them, or even some which I haven’t touched). I’ve just received a bunch of comments and, for just a moment, the “feeling of ownership” meant that these comments felt like an assault on me!
This is a common enough situation, the question is: what to do about it? In my case, the answer was to take a short walk and “dissociate”. Imagine the problem; all these comments, from different angles.

  • From the point of view of the person who made the comment – well intentioned, no thought of attacking me.
  • From the point of view of an interested third party – the objective is to produce the best possible product.

Then I imagined myself updating someone else’s work. I’ve separated myself from the emotional attachment (which was getting in the way). By-the-way, I’ve also divided the work into easy chunks, so I can concentrate on getting each “chunk” done, rather than worrying about how big it is (I’ve delegated that task to another part of me!). It has worked, and so must I! I’m off to get on with dealing with a boring but necessary task.

For those of you who are interested, I’m going to update this with some references to the relevant theories later. For now “transactional analysis” will have to do:

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