The world needs us. The world needs us present and attentive and giving a damn about what is happening. The natural order of things shows us that with care, nature flourishes. We are the same. At work yesterday there was another issue between my employee and one of my coworkers about clothes. The context of the event made it clear that the last event involving my employee’s cloths (that I spoke about a few months ago) came from this coworker and not from the group that we initially thought brought it forward. My initial reaction was to be completely angry. Like all consuming righteous anger. But I had to pause because we were in the exact same position as several months ago and I am done repeating that story. So I took a beat.
The woman who has this issue is older and she has found herself in a pattern in her life. I can’t make assumptions but she has a different view on how things should be because she is from a different generation. When there is nothing to complain about a person’s work ethic, the age old tactic is to attack on a personal level. She approached my staff member and said some really inappropriate things and touted her position as a right to discuss these things with her. She had also mentioned that she had some frustration with work over the weekend so she was primed and looking for anything to target.
After I thought through all of this I realized the story is always the same: Fear. It’s fear and a lack of introspection. An inability to stop and pause and ask whether or not you are really the appropriate person to address an issue. An inability to recognize an unrelated issue can cause us to snap. And it took a LOT of work for me to understand that this woman needs some care. We need to care enough for each other to manage our own loose ends rather than lashing out at someone for a completely unrelated issue. It takes a lot of personal work, deeply intimate and thoughtful work to keep ourselves in check.
I feel like we are at a stage where we have to re-learn this whole human thing. Being human is as powerful as it is fragile and it will behave according to how you treat it. We have a choice to nurture ourselves and each other or we have a choice to remain defensive and isolated and victimized. I’m not sure what the tipping point will be or what side of the fence we will ultimately land on, but I know we have to make a decision and I know that whatever decision we make will have a factor in which way we go.
Whether it is a big moment or a small moment, we can start by breaking habits. I fought with everything in me to tailor my anger at hearing my employee was harassed again—and for the record I made sure to defend my employee. But taking a moment to really think things through helped me see where she was coming from and that it wasn’t my leadership she was attacking and it really wasn’t my employee. She was going after something she felt she could control. Knowing that helped me keep the situation in check both for myself and for my employee.
So let’s start small with taking care of ourselves, with understanding ourselves. We can demonstrate that we have tolerance for our human state by having tolerance for who we are. We can’t fulfill our purposes if we are treating ourselves like garbage so make yourself a priority. Own your worth and find joy in your experiences. Having love and compassion for ourselves is a step toward having that empathy for everyone else. Starting small can be the biggest step you take.