To be at peace with the negative aspects of people in our environment

Some of my clients are really kind and nice persons to me. They frequently are being bothered by the politics of their workplace.  Even though some of them are already good at noticing red flags of their colleagues who may want to manipulate others in some incidents, they felt very annoyed and uncomfortable for having to work with these people in the workplace. They may ruminate every day for the possible harm on them in their work encounter with these colleagues. They may also avoid to collaborate with them. As a result, they may lose many opportunities to showcase their capabilities due to their avoidance.  Why do these clients of mine being so bothered?  How can they cultivate inner peace when they encounter manipulative people in their workplace?

Most of us may try our very best to be a decent person in our lives. We may be taught by our parents and culture to push away our negative qualities or bad habits as much as possible all along. When we are so eager to be perfect, we deny our unwanted negative aspects of ourselves and fight against hiding or fixing them.   However, no matter how hard we try to swipe these negative aspects of ourselves under the carpet, we still have these negative aspects inside us. It is only that we hide them so well as if they are never in us. When we encounter workplace politics and witness manipulation, we feel so annoyed and uncomfortable. One of the possible reasons is that we are reminded of our deeper hidden dark parts.  As a result, we cannot control ourselves to perceive that it is only that particular colleague being manipulative and we are not manipulative ourselves. In fact, we may or may not be manipulative in a particular situation.  Sometimes, we may not be able to see that we already manipulated due to our tendency to deny our negative aspects.

Our fight against getting rid of our negative aspects is tiring and unproductive. It is because no matter how hard we try, we cannot get rid of our negative elements as a human being. We can never be at peace if we cannot embrace all of our qualities, both positive and negative. This may make us to be unable to accept those with more prominent negative qualities as well. Therefore, we need to learn to let go of our judgment and tendency to control. We need to accept and embrace whatever are inside us. Of course, accepting and embracing our negative qualities does not mean to indulging ourselves to exhibit malicious acts. It also does not mean that we easily let others to manipulate us. It means that we face ourselves and others with an openness and with presence. With this presence, we paradoxically may be able to not letting our demons act out. At the same time, we can have wisdom to respond to others’ negative acts with self-protection in mind.

I like to use this analogy to explain. When I had my hiking trip in Australia few years ago, I come across a lot of flies in the nature. Every day during my full-day hike, I felt so annoyed by the flies flying towards me. At the first two days, I tried so hard to use my hands to get rid of these flies. From the third day onwards, I realised no matter how hard I try to get rid of them, they will definitely come back. I surrendered and stopped getting rid of them. As a result, I started to feel the peace to be with those flies in my hiking journey. I was at peace.

My client’s encounter with politics at workplace is inevitable. To be at peace, my client needed to surrender to be with these political encounters and stay presence to learn to protect oneself without being disturbed.

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