When You’re Emotionally “Checked Out” From Your Day Job

by Diana Chin

There are two different types of people at the workplace. One goes to work with enthusiasm and hope. The other simply goes in just to get a paycheck and be done with the day.

Where do I fit in? After recent events that occurred at my workplace, I felt that I’m leaning towards the latter. This post is not bashing the company that I work for. Rather, it’s about sharing my experience why I decided to emotionally “check out” from my day job. On the outside, I’m present and working. But on the inside…I feel numb.

Truth is, I was always taught to give it your all whenever you work at your day job.  Sometimes, I imagine the uncanny advice from others as propaganda ads:  Be a team player! Your ideas matter to us! No need to argue – we are all learning!  Give your time and energy to make our company great again! 

But, what happens when you give it your all and are being constantly blamed for something that you have no control over? What makes this situation worse is the perfect storm of mixing office politics, passive aggressive attitudes, behaviors from certain employees and middle management. Not only it creates a disharmonious environment, but it forces good employees to leave. The idea of working with a perfect company seems far stretched. I’m also aware that no matter where you go, there is also going to be some office politics to deal with. But there’s a fine line between everyday work nuisances and harassment.

After having a long heart-to-heart talk with a trusted coworker, I decided to do the one thing I thought it wasn’t possible – not to care about my job. I did everything I could – notified the manager and supervisors, which in turn was escalated to HR. Sure, apathy is a dangerous emotion to harbor. My initial fear about this emotional “check out” stance is that it would permeate through my family life and interests. Thankfully, I managed to talk it out with a supportive group around me (including my husband). I painfully realized that there will be others who will undermine your performance.  Even if management or a bad boss turns a blind eye, the most you can do is make the best out of it.  This is not being complacent. I have done my part in keeping track and taking notes of what’s happening. Sure, there is the obvious question that I can hear in my own head when faced with such a toxic work environment – why can’t you just leave? My answer is quite simple – I’m doing what I can to help provide for my family.

What has helped me stay grounded is focusing on learning new skills and helping out those who are in a similar boat as I am. Having extra time for self-care was essentially crucial to my physical and mental health. Talking it out and sharing the experience is the first step to feeling liberated, rather than keeping it inside.

The only advice I can give to companies (whether big or small scale) is this:

Care for your employees. Everyone wants to work at his or her best. But they’ll need the support from the company if they wish to be successful.

Have you (or have you been) in a position where you felt emotionally “checked out”? How did you cope with the transition? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.




Share :


2 Replies to “When You’re Emotionally “Checked Out” From Your Day Job”

  1. Deb

    I really needed this article today. I work two jobs to try to provide for my family. Both of them have drama, office politics, a lack of training and plenty of noticing where a person lacks. One of them isn’t even willing to work with me about excess hours that leave me drained. I am getting to where I withdraw more from both of them. I feel like I need to conserve the energy I do have for doing laundry and spending time with my family.
    I wish I could find a second job I could do from home where I could just type things up; something where contact was minimal to none.
    On the plus side it has helped me to care less what people think of me. I can only do my best.

  2. Virginia

    “Checking out” of something emotionally is thought of as a bad thing, so I am happy to have come across your post. It’s helped me feel a bit less guilty. A little over three years ago, I was called to work in a different part of my office. The spot I was in was as an admin., but I got to do a lot of writing, editing and proofreading thanks to my boss, who was flexible and saw the benefit of using the skills I had acquired in previous jobs. The spot I am in now is strictly clerical and quite boring. My organization doesn’t offer training so I could get to a higher post or take on different responsibilities. It serves the organization better to have an army of admin. staff, both to do admin. work but also to “babysit” the higher-ups. I am no babysitter nor am I a waitress or a gofer, so I don’t think I am a good fit for this job. I would like to go back to my old job with the more flexible boss, but I am prevented from doing so due to politics. I could move to other companies easier than most of my colleagues can. But positions in regular companies pay significantly less than what I earn now, barely a living wage commensurate with experience, and I have a mortgage to pay. I cannot lose this job. So I’m stuck, and I’ve checked out. I will continue to do my best on the job, but I do not care enough to take work home with me or even talk about it too much. When I get home, I’d just rather forget that I was at work at all, though the wasted day still frustrates me. So I have been diligent about finding outside opportunities to nourish myself and grow in different ways. Yoga classes, spinning classes, writing classes, reading more often (sometimes on the job – thank you Kindle Cloud), journaling, basically ensuring that I get outside “training” to make myself a better person. I cannot control work, my bosses, or my co-workers (some of who are good friends, though not many), so I will concentrate on what I can control. As for my office, if they think it’s OK to shelve me, to treat me like I don’t exist until they need something, to laugh at me or ignore me when I ask to go back to my old boss (I’ve asked several times), to consider me unimportant, that’s their problem. I have not done anything to deserve that, and I can’t fix that. Those are their own problems and faults they have to work out themselves. I’ve already worked here long enough that people SHOULD know my worth and what I am capable of, and it’s not my problem that they care more about their own convenience than the “team” we are encouraged to be. I think once I realized that, it set me free.

Comments are closed.