Today I feel more hopeful. I woke up feeling well, went off to the farmer’s market, which I love, then for treatment for my arm. My arm feels better as a result.

I see my therapy session differently today. It was an adult session where we discussed some things actually relevant to my current life, and it’s good to do that. Not switch out into some child part, but stay on topic for a while. These are painful subjects, but good ones. I didn’t add those into my last post, but I want to get them down.

First I told Ron the story of my work incident. I thought I handled it pretty well, so it was more of a show and tell than asking for his input. I have a project involving another group which is due at end of month. My client, E, had pushed for this co-worker, B, to be available to me for half and hour a day. The second time we met, I told B that the project had entirely changed, and explained what was new. He kind of listened, but grew more and more agitated. He had his own stuff which was due shortly, and was stressed out about that. His voice got louder and louder and he stopped just short of yelling at me. Finally he said he couldn’t meet this day or the next, and stalked out angrily.

I went back to my desk, very agitated. I hate getting yelled at. Why didn’t he just re-schedule the meeting if he had no time? Then he sent an email, copying his boss and E, saying this and that about the project, saying he was optimistic we could meet the timeline but he couldn’t meet until later next week. Fine. Then his boss, who is kind of a lose canon to tell the truth, fires off an email saying he can’t believe such a simple task (my project) was taking so long. What had even been accomplished so far?

So, I felt even more agitated. Angry at being called slow. I replied to this director saying the project had now changed, and we were looking into what the requirements were. And that I’d started both projects. I didn’t get defensive and point out we were waiting on his team for the last two weeks.

So I went home. Partly too tired to think, but when I did think, angry and upset. It’s amazing how these things agitate me.

Next morning, I’m standing in the shower, furious and afraid about this whole thing. Really really afraid. I don’t really know why. I think I’m afraid of my anger. So I decided to forgive myself. Forgive….forgive. I sent so much forgiveness to all parts of me, for not handling the situation perfectly, for my part in it, for being angry…..And I calmed right down. I felt so much better. I repeated the self-forgiveness that morning any time I started to feel afraid or angry.

Back at work, B sent another email in the same thread. I can’t remember what he said exactly – it was off the point anyway. Just saying again he can’t meet until maybe Thursday. (Sorry, this is boring.) So finally, i replied to him and just said that I too was optimistic I could meet the timeline, but when exactly could we meet? Would next Tuesday work? He wrote right back, Tuesday works, thanks for understanding! Huh. So I wrote no problem. So we are on good terms.

So overall, I felt I handled things well. I didn’t escalate anything, I wasn’t defensive, I think it will all be fine. I told Ron a condensed version of this, and he nodded his head. I told him I think I’m beating myself up all the time at work – for not understanding everything at once, for having a loud voice when I should have a soft voice, for being awkward….So then, when someone criticizes me, it’s like the end of the world to me. But if I can support myself, it does not become the end of the world. Instead I can sit back and think – hmm….that person is not acting skillfully, are they? He he.

…to be continued

  1. cardamone5 said:

    The forgiveness part of this post is so inspiring, and hopeful. Good for you for finding a way to deal with your emotions. I get the whole second guessing thing, especially when it involves interactions with others. I could tell you to just shake it off and not dwell on it so much, but that’s much easier said than done, and I am looking for a job, not working so I don’t yet have these challenges. I wish you continued self-generated calm.


    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Elizabeth. Working with others has been one of the challenges of my life. I didn’t start working in the corporate world until I was forty, and it was a huge shock and a huge learning experience for me. I started out so badly, so reactive, but I have learned an awful lot. Wishing you well on your job hunt.

  2. You handled it beautifully, well done. its hard to do any kind of self compassion, self forgiveness thing etc. so good for you for trying that and using those skills. XX

  3. Andi said:

    Wow you really handled this so well. I relate to many of the issues around work that you write about here. I will start full-time clinical internship in January and I am so anxious about similar stuff coming up again. I’m going to try to be a little more optimistic and focus on being skillful in such times.

    • Ellen said:

      I bet you’ll do great Andi. I had so very much to learn about interacting with people, and I’m better than I used to be, but have a ways to go. Sometimes I think self-confidence and self-compassion are the key ingredients. Thanks.

  4. Wow, what a wonderful job you did with self compassion! I seem to remember that you have been doing some mindfulness meditation, is that right? If so, you so perfectly put it into action here. Talk about pay off! And it reminds me that I need to be go back to meditating more regularly, myself.

    • Ellen said:

      I actually hadn’t made the connection, but probably that influenced me coming up with this idea. I haven’t done that meditation for some weeks – I’ve felt too stressed out to sit, and like I think you said at the time, it just became really difficult to keep doing the metta, I felt undeserving or fake or some such, so for a time I switched to watching the breath. Maybe if I keep doing a bit of it though, it will trickle down into my life more. Thanks!

  5. leb105 said:

    this is great, E! How did you come up with forgiveness – for fear and anger? It tickles me to see you managing both the internal parts, and the external co-workers. I’m so impressed – you contain your feelings and soothe yourself under challenging circumstances. I barely manage to contain my feelings, but at the cost of really functioning in the situation.
    After group this week, I was thinking about the dangers of anger, too. Did we learn that our anger (and we must have had a lot of it) was just too threatening to our survival?

    • Ellen said:

      I’m not actually sure why it popped into my mind – maybe it was the metta I was practicing for some months. To me it’s very much related – if I internally attack myself, another person’s attack will feel so bad I can’t stand it. If I internally support myself, another person’s attack doesn’t hurt me in the same way. It’s still not pleasant, but it’s not a disaster.

      I do understand about containing the feelings taking all your strength, so that then you are incapacitated in the situation apart from that. I’ve definitely been there and will be there again. Work is after all not the place where you can explore your anger safely. Yeah, anger was not allowed to me growing up – just to my father.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  6. Rachel said:

    I’m glad you gave yourself forgiveness and gentleness. You deserve that.

  7. Cat said:

    This is very similar to some stuff coming out in my own therapy. If I ever feel someone dislikes me or if I come under criticism, I tend to fall apart. This must come from our CH’s. I’m not sure, but I tend to feel people trigger us more when we’re in therapy… all those emotions are raw and don’t take much to tap into. I think you handled the work situation better than you would have done 6 mths ago, in the other job for instance, and I like how you were able to identify your colleagues agitation as perhaps being from his own stress at work rather than it all being down to something about you… nicely done

    • Ellen said:

      I do think I handled it better than in the past. Hope I can remember this in future. thanks Cat.

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