Q: I'm grieving a sudden loss of a job because of office politics. I thought I had a future — earned two positive evaluations and...

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Q: I’m grieving a sudden loss of a job because of office politics. I thought I had a future — earned two positive evaluations and pay raises. I can’t seem to move on. Isn’t losing a job due to politics after exceptional work considered unethical?

A: Asking the right question when we have a problem can significantly contribute to solving the problem.

Your question focuses attention on whether your former employer was bad and wrong. Even if you’re right that the company behaved poorly, how does that help you right now?

After 26 years of consulting in organizations, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of us don’t realize how complicated our working relationships can become.

For instance, most folks who feel unable to move on after a betrayal at work need to seriously contemplate all the other betrayals they’ve experienced.

If our past relationships are littered with painful disappointments or abandonments, being fired can bring up unresolved grief and fury at everyone who ever hurt us. Usually, we believe these feelings are only caused by the current event.

Most of us don’t realize that we’re wired to drag around emotional baggage until we deal with it. The older we get, the more severe our reaction may be to any event involving betrayal.

Try writing letters (that you don’t send) to people who’ve hurt you in the past, or talking with friends about these memories.

You could also write letters to people, including your recent boss, who’ve betrayed you (again, without mailing them), then write the letters you wish you would have received back. The letters you write to yourself will tell you volumes about why you’re “stuck.”

Exceptional work will not protect us from office politics any more than “being good” protects us from evil in life. We can deal with past emotional baggage, however, so we become more resilient and resourceful in responding when work or life hands us lemons.

The last word(s):

Q: I want to take some professional risks but may end up looking foolish if I fail. Will looking foolish give me a permanent bad reputation in my industry?

A: No. Other people don’t spend much time thinking about our embarrassing moments. Also, keep in mind that feeling foolish fades within moments, while regretting what we never tried lasts a lifetime.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube.