By Ty H. Phillips
As a writer, I love words.
I have a special fondness for the word insidious. I cannot explain why. I like the sound, I like how it feels rolling off of my Gene Simmons-sized tongue and it seems fitting to so much that goes on in our lives. We tend to see things as neutral or as not so bad, maybe the lesser of two evils so to speak and yet, in the long run, they are ruinous.
I work with a person who appears to have an insidious nature. She can be nice but it seems to be a means to an end in order for her to pursue her desire for power and position. She talks at people not to them, and when her demeanor is kind, it is later discovered that in those same moments she was talking badly about a person or setting someone up in order to knock them back down.
Kindness feels wasted on her, much like casting pearls before swine (did I just call her a pig?).
I have been struggling with this particular person for many weeks; months in fact. I try to offer my help and services but when I turn around she has crossed a line, lied, manipulated or created some other unethical infraction. I hang my head, frustrated, and ready to give up. She makes the working environment hostile at best.
I go home, feeling somewhat defeated, ready to quit and to be frank, pissed off.
I tell myself over and over again that it is only in situations like these that I can truly learn compassion, patience, and apply the dharma (by the way, I’ve been failing miserably). I hear the Buddha’s words in my head about meeting violence with gentleness, rudeness with kindness, stinginess with giving and I try, I swear I do (I wanna push her out the window).
Sitting in silence later, I contemplate the interactions I’ve had with her. Where can I change? What else could I do? The truth is, I can do little more than I am. I remain open and engaged but in my heart, I am bitter, and angry. I know that only until I am able to change internally, the situation will not change for me.
I have literally handed her control over my emotional well being.
Until I am ready to take my emotional state back, she will continue to disturb me. As the Dalai Lama says, “Do not let the behavior of others disturb your inner peace.” I have allowed this. I have attached myself more to my frustration than I have to my stillness. By attaching to these negative interactions, I have created more.
So now as I sit, cursing her under my breath, I am at least aware that I am fueling the fire for her, or as they say, giving her rent in my headspace, free of charge. The process now boils down to watching for the reasons why she does these things and less about how I want to feel about them. It needs to be a process of letting go of my attachment or as Strib says, meditating myself a thicker skin.
The Buddha said, the root of suffering is attachment…how true.
Editor: Dana Gornall