“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou
What has happened to you recently that was disturbing? What did you think about it? How did you handle the situation?
We all have times in our lives when things don’t go the way we want. When that happens, how do we handle it? What we do can make all the difference in how we experience the situation. More than once I’ve lost a job. The reasons varied. When I was young I thought I could speak honestly with my boss, but I quickly learned that bosses often only want to hear what they want to hear. You play the game or you lose, but I was too naïve to understand this.
Being Shocked By The Challenge
For two years, I worked as an employment counselor at a fine arts school. My boss had helped found the school and had developed very specific procedures for my job. I loved the work and I was very successful helping students find employment while in school.
We were doing so well that we needed another counselor and the boss hired a second woman to fill the gap. After a while, I realized she wasn’t following the boss’s guidelines. As a result, her actions created conflict and affected my work, and she often flirted with him and behaved unprofessionally.
I became very upset and every day there was a new challenge that wore me down. The only other “adult” in the office refused to become involved, and when things reached the breaking point for me and I talked again with my boss, he fired me despite the fact I was the one getting the students the most jobs.
How could I be fired for doing the best job? The unfairness stunned me, and when I complained to the president, she apologized but did nothing. Being fair was a basic part of my moral values and I was devastated by this experience. How could I trust any school or business?
Looking At the Source of the Challenge
I was angry for a long time and deeply sad because I had loved the job and nothing else like it was available in the area. I didn’t understand why this could happen, but when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and analyzed the situation, I realized the attention my boss received from the other woman made him feel good and that was more important than production.
He was a hugely overweight single man whom I suspected lived a rather solitary life. Suddenly, every day he had this attractive woman fawning over him, getting him coffee, making him laugh, behaving like his girlfriend despite the fact that she lived with a boyfriend. While I was pleasant interacting with him, I had maintained professional behavior.
Letting Our Negative Thoughts Feelings Go
Accepting that some situations are not fair is difficult. One feels helpless. While it is important to examine the situation and try to understand what, if anything, we did wrong, it is also important to let go and move on. I had to accept the fact that I did my best, and that I did the right thing by continuing to behave professionally.
So, what can we do when these negative experiences overwhelm us? I’ve always found that quiet time is very valuable and helps to release the negative thoughts that keep circling through my mind. Some people may “run-off” the stress through exercise, talk to a best friend, meditate or go hiking through the woods.
Releasing the Fear
Regardless of the practice we use, we must release the fear beneath our feelings of anger or inadequacy. My method is to quietly breath deeply and when I feel the tension releasing, I direct my mind “Release this fear (name it), it has no power over me.” I take another deep breath and feel positive energy rising through my body, and I repeat the phrase until I feel my mind release the fear.
The validation that we are good must come from within. Self-affirmations may also help heal for they remind us who we really are. Regardless of what others say, I accept that “I am a loving and competent person.” Repeating this positive message helps us to remember there is much good about us; we don’t need to believe in the negativity that limits us. The exact words we use must be fashioned to fit our particular situation.
After this experience at the art school, I had another negative experience in the business world. This was very scary because I was barely supporting myself on low wages and needed reliable employment. I had thought I could make better wages in the business world, but in the end I returned to teaching, my first love. While the wages were low there, I was doing work that really mattered to my teenage students, and that lifted me up regardless of the challenges.
What self-affirmations work for you?
DANCING TO CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES
© 2020 Georganne Spruce