Sanna Kramsi - Blog A peek into my life

Getting psychological safety back

March 24, 2024 | Life

I've been meaning to write about this topic for quite a while now. In 2021 I realized I had lost pretty much every bit of psychological safety at work. Since the work week takes quite a bit of time of the whole week, the lack of safety affected me a lot outside of it as well. I needed to get out.

My journey towards psychological safety started at Exove. Ever since I joined, I've slowly felt more and more safe. Even with the more recent bigger changes currently going on, I haven't been too worried.

Why is psychological safety so important to me?

When you have to constantly be afraid that something bad will happen, it is exhausting. Any tiny mistake or oversight might trigger something catastrophic.

In the past, I've had to deal with very unpredictable people. I always felt insecure about myself and my environment. I had to watch my surroundings at all times so I could try to prepare for the sudden changes that might happen at any time.

For a long time, I felt invisible. My opinions or thoughts never mattered. I never wanted to be the centre of attention. If I was invisible, I was more likely to be safe. I could hide. But this kept me back and wasn't healthy. I was getting tired of being so afraid.

What effects has psychological safety at work had on me?

I now feel quite secure again. I can even talk about my anxieties and other mental issues without having to worry about getting judged for it. It's important to talk about mental health to make it less stigmatizing and more normal. These things are more common than you might expect.

I'm not terrified of making mistakes anymore. I don't like making them, though I doubt not many people do. But at least I no longer torment myself for days if I make a silly little mistake from time to time.

Both managers I've had at Exove have been incredibly supportive. I feel seen, heard and valued. That is a new feeling for me. I've noticed that I trust these two people very much. I have a lot of amazing colleagues as well. I've never been a part of so caring and supportive environment.

I'm not afraid to bring up things that need improvement. I also like to take part in developing processes and ways of working. This is very motivating for me. And it does also have the benefit of actually improving things. The whole time I've received encouragement to bring up improvement ideas.

I have started to push myself towards new challenges. I do it a lot these days. I've never been comfortable speaking in public. But somehow I've become one of the regular trainers at Exove. I even did a public webinar with a close colleague. I wouldn't have imagined I'd be capable of doing any of this if you had asked me five or ten years ago.

The stability of feeling psychologically safe at work has also affected my general mental health. My partner has always been my number one supporter. But nowadays I have the courage to speak much more about my feelings and mental state. I've noticed how much of a difference it makes to not try to keep everything to myself.

Psychological safety encouraged me to seek help

I'm currently working on some of my issues with a professional. The whole situation still feels weird to me. But I'm trying my best to not let it get in the way. I want to make the most of this opportunity to navigate my past and my feelings.

When it comes to me, I can't trust my brain. The judgement and the hatred have been perverting my self-image. Having someone "from the outside" notice these behavioural issues has helped me a lot. I'm starting to understand much better where all these actions and feelings come from. It's not me being bad or stupid. Instead, these were created as ways to protect my younger self from everything that was happening. Sadly nowadays they are doing much more bad than good for me.

One of the things I've been now taught to try is to aim to be as empathetic towards myself as I am towards others. Easier said than done. But maybe one day. While my partner has helped me so much during our time together (it's now been a bit over 20 years!), a professional is still a professional. And it's not my partner's job to fix me.

I hope I can help make Exove as safe for others as the company has been for me. And I hope we never lose the care and support we have had in our company culture. This is my favourite thing about Exove. The people are so wonderful.