Internalizing every little thing is a sure way to dig yourself an early grave. I should know.
Years ago I had this pretty cool job and tried so desperately to please my boss. I thought she was the ish. She moved and things happened. She could command a room with little to no effort. She was envied and honored among her peers. Even if some of them didn’t like her, they couldn’t help but respect her work ethic and the fact that she got things done. I was enamored with her glow. I wanted to show her that I was worthy of my position, that I could be the best. I sought her approval like a dog digging for a bone.
I put in late, unnecessary hours. I spent days pouring over new ideas, getting things JUST right, eagerly anticipating her approval. But I could feel something was out of kilter. We weren’t vibing no matter how hard I tried. I would pitch something to her and she would give it a half glance. She came down on me for things that were far beyond my control and barely spoke when something I had done was a success. I can’t lie – I cried many a night, wondering what I was doing wrong. Why did this woman seem to loathe me when all I wanted was her esteem? I saw her as a mentor! I was busting my butt for her praise and getting sideways looks and whispers behind closed doors. What the EFF?
It took a long talk with my pastor and one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements
to find the answer to my sad little prayers.
My pastor was always known for being a straight shooter and true to her cut-and-dry form she said to me:
“You put too much trust in people. People ain’t God so LATER for what they think!”
I felt pretty stupid for having wasted so much time taking my boss’s disdain personally when I KNEW I was doing everything in my power to please her. But therein lay the problem, didn’t it? Just like my pastor said, I was so busy trying to please people instead of consulting with God and simply doing my best that I was panic stricken more often than not. I wasn’t enjoying life. I wasn’t happy even though I loved my work. I was even having appetite and health issues as a sad result! She was going on, enjoying her life, never knowing the extent of my pain while I was confused and hurt and worried day and night. Crazy.
I came across the book The Four Agreements
by Don Miguel Ruiz and the second agreement hit me square in the face:
“Don’t Take Anything Personally”
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the actions and opinions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
I checked myself. I had been busting my butt, doing my best work. I had no reason to be trapped underneath my boss’s bad attitude or disdain or whatever her problem was. I was allowing myself to suffer for things I had no control over. I was a panic attacked hot mess worrying and wondering. A willing victim. And I was so tired of it.
I realized that I had been basing most of my life around what others thought, what they felt about me. I took every little thing so personally never realizing that sometimes (if not MOST times) a side eye, an unwarranted insult, a snub really had absolutely NOTHING to do with me.
Everyone acts/reacts toward others according to the condition of their own spirit. If something has transpired during the day that has thrown you off kilter, it’s your decision whether or not you will lash out, harbor hard feelings or overcome it. The other side of that coin was the side I had not seen until the situation with my boss, which is this: Just like our action or reaction is based upon what’s going on internally, so it is with how we respond to the way others act toward us. I hadn’t taken the time to self-evaluate and self-affirm, so I allowed anybody and everybody else’s internal conflicts to ruffle my feathers, to define who I was. I victimized myself without even realizing it.
Thankfully, I was able to begin my own personal healing process before I left that particular job. And though I believe my now ex-boss still hasn’t gotten past whatever issues she seemed to have been harboring against me, I learned a valuable lesson, changed my outlook and haven’t had a panic attack since. Your issue is your issue and life is short enough without me taking a few more years off with worry and grief. I choose peace and peace chooses me.
La Trulyis a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change. Her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and her Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.