An incident happened at work with an employee from a department one of my co-workers oversees. I had never met nor spoken to this woman and she brought forward some critiques over my area in an attempt to discredit my work. My initial reaction was confusion as I had no idea where these attacks were coming from–again we had never met. Then I started questioning my skills and then why I felt this way at all. I decided to hear the woman out and our first meeting did not go well.
I am the first to admit that I tend to take criticism to heart and I have a history of feeling defensive especially when someone makes sweeping judgements. In this circumstance, I can say with 100% confidence that I kept myself as open as possible and wanted to hear this woman out. The short version is there was no appeasing her. There was no middle ground. There was no right answer any of us in that meeting could have given her. The conversation continued to escalate and we had to stop.
This event was the epitome of someone with some kind of trauma history as well as someone who is extremely calculated and knows exactly how to play the game so there is no winning—on either side. I began thinking about what a hostile and dangerous a work environment is when people are allowed to behave like this. I started thinking about how our business had gone from so disproportionately in favor of the department/business and now is equally disproportionately in favor of the individual employee. You can not have a business run making decisions based on 4000 individual decisions. This woman has effectively made it impossible to do my job as it stands—and she is not even my employee.
I have a choice—I can either drive myself crazy trying to do what they are telling me to do (which is different every day) or I can learn to make the right choices for myself. This is letting go of the fear of the bullshit and stepping into who I am. This is setting a boundary of not tolerating this type of bullying. This is loving myself enough to have my back. This is loving myself enough to stand in who I am and say I’ve done my best. I don’t need to waste my time trying to defend myself—in this case in particular because this woman’s claims are unfounded.
I need to spend the time building the life I love. If my existence here is so challenging then I can make the next right choice. And I will always choose to love myself. No one can make me feel inferior or worthless. I will own my space, I will not own your discomfort. As a whole we don’t know how to manage the truth of our lives—we create an image, a façade, and we manage that. We haven’t learned to be comfortable in our truth, our vulnerability, and we sure as hell do not have tolerance for any flaws.
We are so reactive and so betrayed or offended by other’s realities, by their truth, by their experiences. We feel entitled to dictate how people behave and completely ignore their experience. This is fragility. We spend all of our time defending an image, an ideal we created (that is no longer attainable) and then label people “bad” if they can’t get it or if they don’t want it–all in a system that will find any way to not give it. The truth is, our system is about manipulation, power, and control. We have equated money to God and lost all sense of connection to our humanity. If we stopped feeding this monster we created we may find an alternative. Finding source, connection, power WITHIN is how we will dismantle this inefficiency. Through that connection we will put aside ego and realize how much easier this life flows when you let go. And good lord the ego fights hard. It’s insidious in how it latches and lingers. But if we learn to defend the man and not the plan we find what works for us all.