"Seeing the Light"
What do you do when you have to work with a "difficult" person who won't get out of your space!
I would like to share something that happened to me awhile back. It was an interesting lesson. I thought that I understood this particular 'truth', but I obviously needed a refresher course. You see, whenever I think that I've learned something - that I've understand a particular lesson, I will soon get the chance to see that I didn't get it after all. Ha ha!
This process can be quite interesting, even amusing, if I am willing to pay attention - and try not to judge myself. (Which involves almost tearing my hair out and screaming "How stupid can I be?”)
If I am willing to quit fighting myself and accept the situation as it is happening, then I can get some detachment. If I do this, then it's more like I'm taking an exam in some subject. The circumstances can be uncomfortable, but if I just calm down and think back over what I have studied and use what I have learned, it is soon over. I usually do alright when I settle down.
Here's what happened:
A few years ago there was a woman that I'd had a hard time working with. She could be abrasive and quite angry, at times. I was sure she had some kind of a problem with me, since it seemed like every time that I had to work with her she couldn't resist being condescending. She seemed to enjoy picking at me and had said things that were downright rude, even in front of people. Although I tried to stand up to her, I was kind of afraid of her. She was very aggressive at times and I found her unpleasant.
I began to dread having to deal with her. Once, after she got really mean with me I started to lose my temper and I got very intense with her and asked her to back off. This resulted in her being a bit more careful with her remarks around me for awhile, but it was not a satisfactory solution, since now we were both anxious and defensive when we were together.
The situation was deteriorating and I couldn't seem to stop it. I thought if we could just communicate we could move through this. I said I had something I wanted to talk to her about and she said she did too. Before I could say anything she said that she wanted a chance to tell me that she thought I needed a new last name because 'Whitfield' wasn't that easy for her to say and it was too long.
At that point, I realized that not only was this not getting anywhere, but now for sure I was part of the problem because I felt like smacking her! I just couldn't seem to get a handle on things. I tried contemplating and praying about it, but had not received an answer - at least not one that I could understand. She confused me, pissed me off and she intimidated me. I did my best to avoid her.
Things went along about the same for a few months, but as these things do... it all came to a head one day. We were both working for a local newspaper and a deadline was looming. Several people were out sick and it was up to her and I to get all of the ads for the paper 'camera ready' for the printer. We were going to be engaged in some very exacting computer work. She didn't exactly know what she was doing and I was supposed to teach her when she needed help.
When she came into the area I was working in and the air actually seemed to darken. I felt stifled. I could not imagine spending hours with her in a small space and trying to interact with her. Not when I felt the way that I did about her. She scared the heck out of me! I felt a tremendous panic starting. I tried to breath through it, but it grew as I sat there unable to get away from her.
After a short time, I excused myself and went to the restroom. I stood looking out the window at the parking lot, intensely wishing I were somewhere else. I felt nauseated by the idea of having to interact with her... of literally having to sit within 3 feet of her for many, many more hours. How could I possibly concentrate or even function?
I thought about pretending to get sick, of going out to get lunch... I wanted to run away really badly. I knew that I couldn't. If I left it would accomplish nothing and I'd be letting the owner down. We would not meet the deadline.
I could try to just ignore her. But how would I be able to teach her what to do if I refused to speak to her?
I thought about going out there and saying "Look, let's just be honest. You don't like me and I don't like you, but let's just try to make the best of it anyway."
Thinking over that approach, it didn't seem that would bring about what I had in mind, which was an end to the hostilities, not an escalation of them!
I made an effort to mentally list her strong points. If I could just find one thing about her to focus on -- just one thing that I admired or at least respected...
It didn't work. My mind stayed blank. I tried to pray again, but by now, nothing at all was happening. I was desperate.
Feeling physically ill and thinking that I really should be able to handle this, I turned to my Guide, who I call 'Joe.' He's been with me all my life and I have a close relationship with him. I see him as clearly as I see other people and can hear him as well - or better - being hard of hearing - than other people. :-D (See previous blog entries about Joe.)
"Joe!" I wailed, "What am I going to do?"
His calm, clear voice said, as it had thousands of times before,"Clear yourself, quiet yourself".
I knew he was right. If I was going to get through the deadlines and the next several hours with this woman, I had to do something to get a hold of myself and my emotions. I always say that you teach what you need to learn... so it was time to "walk my talk."
I went into an empty stall in the bathroom. I did a short meditative protection and energy clearing exercise. Then I did something physical. I spent several minutes quietly saying to myself, "I clear my mind, I clear my soul", as I rather vigorously rubbed the sides of back, and along my arms with the intent to get my energy moving and let go of my feelings towards this woman.
Finally, I quieted down.
My energy and emotions were clear for a moment; my mind was still. Into this stillness, I asked God if I might, please, "see this woman's Light today". I sincerely asked to be able to see her as another Soul, struggling through the lessons of this world- not just as someone who was personally irritating.
As I walked back to the office, I was unsure if anything would be different, but at least I felt better physically and emotionally. As I sat down at my chair, I noticed that I was at least okay with sitting near her. My feelings were manageable. I was fully prepared to go out every few minutes to clear and quiet myself again, if I had to. Knowing this, I felt less pressure.
When I changed my feelings, I changed my reality. I marveled to myself, "Wow, this stuff really does work!" I felt like laughing in relief and joy.
After awhile, she tried to talk with me, which was usually an invitation to criticism from her, but this time, instead of getting defensive, I stopped what I was doing and I looked at her. I listened and I asked her how she was.
When I first asked her, I have to admit that I didn't really care; I was just being polite. But all at once I felt an opening inside of me and I suddenly meant it. She must have felt my new sincerity, for to my surprise, she began to tell me how she'd been feeling.
As she spoke haltingly, of her life, of how unhappy she was with herself and of how much pain she was in, she slowly began to be approachable. I felt compassion for her, instead of irritation. I was pretty amazed.
As we worked she talked and by the time we were finished, I knew a great many details about her life. I had even shared a few things about myself with her. I'd known she wanted a strong relationship with her guardian angel, but until that day she had not even tried to communicate with her. We talked about that, too and I gave her some of my thoughts about how she might go about it.
In this way she was no different than I; she was ignoring her Guide, just like I've ignored Joe at times!
"Well," I thought, "you do teach what you need to learn more about!"
Her style of communicating, in general, was much different than mine. She was more intense and "pointy," but I know that I've had the same feelings that she was talking about when she shared with me. I had no right to judge her. Underneath her pain and abrasive attitude, she was a decent person, doing the best that she could do. That day, I had indeed seen her Light - seen past her wall and into her being.
At the end of that long day, I was was able to truthfully tell her that I could see her great beauty. She didn't have any snappy retorts to that. Instead, her face softened and I thought that she was going to cry. She thanked me profusely for being so kind, understanding and listening to her.
That made me smile. She had no idea.
Even though she was mystified as to what I meant, I had to thank her. Seeing her inner Light and humanness revealed to me was a gift!
What a great reminder. It's easy to put people who annoy or intimidate us into the little boxes and keep them there. We are lost in our own emotions and we judge them, before we ever get to really know them. Maybe it turns out that they aren't people we have much in common with, and maybe we aren't at all compatible, for many reasons... but how will we know if that's even true if we stay in a defensive place of self pity and panic like I did? I had gotten all tangled up on my own stuff ever time I was around her.
I was reminded once again that it's better to calm down, detach and be civil. Stop the silly dance and refocus myself. I felt a lot better when I stepped out of my own box that I'd built up for myself.
I try to be a realist. I knew this woman would still annoy me at times. She had a way of expressing herself that grated on most of the people around her. But after connecting with her that day, I was always able to see her as she was at her heart, and not just the caricature of her that I had defensively drawn in my mind.
What a great lesson!
And, if I forget the lesson, again... Well, I know for sure that there will always be another chance to remember coming my way! ;->