We are taught in modern self-help literature that ‘life isn’t fair’. We are taught to choose our attitudes in how to deal with life’s unfairness. As Victor Frankl, Auschvitz survivor and psychotherapist states in Man’s Search for Meaning
“When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I refer to Frankl here as I’m battling with feeling upset, lacking self-esteem and de-valued by a set of circumstances at work. For clarity; a downward spiralling situation has arisen in another department which I’ve offered to step in and help resolve yet somehow found fingers pointing at me for the situation having arisen in the first place (in another department, in another team, far removed from my operational remit). It’s not fair. I’ve entered the situation positively, proactively and forward thinking, raising the problem to the board, offering ideas on how to resolve, indeed offering to own resolution, and yet rather than a collaborative approach of solving things together I’ve received a rather brutal assault of finger pointing, blame and accusation.
Management Insecurity Manifested with Finger Pointing
Mercifully I’m rational and an experienced leader so no stranger to this scenario. A management problem is highlighted, seniors get twitchy and nervous, insecure that they should have managed things better or indeed they don’t know how to manage things better so from deep rooted fear and insecurity they flare up aggressively and finger point. It’s so easy when you have a scapegoat, eh.
I’m good at removing emotion from combative discussions and dealing with fact, action and positive progress. However, in the early hours of the morning, in insomniac privacy, my limbic brain goes bananas. It’s ridiculous. It’s cruel. I haven’t done anything wrong. How can he humiliate me so publicly. He’s so hypocritical. I’m upset. I was trying to help. What does he actually want me to do? I need a new job description as this is now a new remit he’s tasking me with. I feel hurt. Maybe I am not valuable. Maybe I am shit at my job and should leave. Maybe I’m about to get the sack. How am I going to afford the mortgage, the school fees? On and on and on goes the crazed moonlit angst of upset me.
Silencing the Paranoid Brain
So, how to quieten this destructively active brain? It’s fundamentally about not taking this personally. It’s about recognising that I can choose how to respond to the situation, people and plans. I can choose to focus on my inner power and continue to do my best. I can choose not to shed any more tears. I can choose to learn from this man’s behaviour, from this experience. I can help this man with love and compassion soothing his aggression and own nervousness. I can solve the problem with my best foot forward. I can choose to create new opportunities for myself elsewhere externally. I can choose.
Enlightenment through Conscious Choice
So, today as I steel myself for the battering I assume awaits me in the office I do so with lightness in my heart as I will not be taking it personally. I have choices and I have a plan. My nocturnal misery was self-created, a self-projected set of beliefs which triggered me to feel negative emotions. Through consciously detaching and observing the situation I feel lighter and better able to cope.
Detach Emotion to be Free
To recap, when you observe what upsets you most in life and examine where deep personal misery comes from invariably it’s your inner self taking a person, situation or event to heart personally.