The value of contrast

What have I been reflecting upon this week? Work. It has not been an easy time; long hours, multi-tasking, managing people, listening, navigating politics and feeling stressed. In short, a lot of contrast.  I am also in line for a promotion at work. It was suggested that, while I may deserve it, I probably will not get it. A comment like this angers and upsets me. It also increases my determination 100 fold to get it. Because I now care about getting it, it has become my goal.
I receive these quotes, daily, by email and there is one quote my mind keeps floating to:
Whomsoever may torment you, harass you, confound you, or upset you, is a teacher. Not because they’re wise, but because you seek to become so. There are no accidents, they showed up for a reason, and you can always turn the page.
Let’s review.
Torment is defined as severe physical or mental suffering – sounds pretty harsh. Harass is subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation – does not sound like a good time.
If I am experiencing this in my workplace, I should leave. I am not therefore, moving on to the next ones:
Confound, which is to cause surprise or confusion, especially by acting against my expectations. – sounds a bit better because I like surprises?  Upset is to make someone, in this case me, unhappy, disappointed, or worried. From what I have experienced at work recently, this is applicable to me.
I agree with the part of the quote that says “is a teacher. Not because they’re wise” part. It is unwise to torment, harass, or upset anyone really. I mean who would like to inflict any of the above experiences on anyone? Not me. What does this have to do with my goal?
So then the question becomes “How are they teachers?”  Am I supposed to believe that these experiences would teach me something? And do I really seek to become wise? How do I reconcile “they are there for a reason, and then I can turn the page?”
Time to reflect
I do generally love the people I work with and most of my clients. Thank God, because as a consultant, if I don’t like people and clients, well, business is not going to be very good. But work is the place where I feel the most resistance and impatience lately. As stated I have felt confounded and upset at times. It is important to me to understand this quote in order to achieve my goal.
I am very protective of my work life balance. However in the last year, I have worked longer hours and taken on more, so in my mind, my perception, I deserve that position. This year, I was told that if I act “as if”, I will get the promotion. In other words, for the position I seek, I must act as if I am that, in order to get that. It must be perceived that I am that, in order to get that.
So if perception is key, then it implies I must care about what other people perceive. I have been taught to believe that this is out of my control. In addition a quote by Lao Tzu states
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
Prisoner, follower, slave. As opposed to Leaders, who often find their own path without caring what others think.  But the position I am in line for is a leadership position. And to get that it must be perceived that I am that. This is what I would call a mind fuck. Confounding.
So how do people who confound and upset me at work teach me anything? I ask the question this week –why does this upset me? Why is this confounding to me? By asking these questions, I realized that the answers point me to something.
Lessons (generally learned from those teachers)
Lesson #1: I still care about what other people think. It became apparent this week because I occasionally get affected by some comment I perceive as a slight about me or impediment to the project. Every time I am upset, I get to look at why. Every time something confounds me it is an opportunity to reflect on why. Am I taking things personally? Perfect lesson. Another lesson, that comment – “you will not get it”, has revealed that I really do want it, and driven me even more. Thank you.
Lesson #2: After getting upset by some email from someone in higher management, I was told to breathe and let things be. Learning to let things be releases resistance and improves patience. I get an opportunity to focus on what is important. I am also reminded to breathe in, breathe out.
Lesson #3: Learning to navigate politics. Politics confound and upset me because of how I think and feel about that bullshit. However I need to let that bullshit be, as it is part of the game. Game, sounds like fun and learning to navigate that while keeping my sense of humour intact and maintaining my integrity is a great lesson that can only be learned thorough some upsetting and confounding situations around “politics”. Thank you big corporate client. I am learning a lot from you.
Lesson #4:  Stress management. The stressful situations also reveal where I need to work on how to effectively manage stress and time management. Not avoid it or run away from it, but I am afforded the opportunity through people to see what I need to work on. Doing that leads to solutions. Turning the page means applying lessons learned.
Lesson #5: Facing adversity not fearing it. There are people who say life is unfair, life is so hard. I do not relate to doom and gloom. In my case, I have found life to be pretty good. Then there are law of attraction teachers who say that if you think it is hard it will be, that you can visualize your way into ease and everything will be fine. The danger here is that people tend to do this to avoid adversity and “the bad” and the hard”. (I am one of those people who has done exactly this) Yes, it would be lovely if everything was easy and fine and just the way I want. I also now accept this is not how life works. Hence the quote I am reflecting upon. Brian Tracy is quoted as saying:
“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”
 That is wisdom I seek.
I believe these are the opportunities my work provides to me in the upsetting and confounding situations.
Every upsetting or confounding situation is an opportunity to learn how to accept and manage adversity. To understand that contrast is there for a reason and face it, instead of avoiding it or fearing it.  Ironic that in doing so, things are less confounding and upsetting but more revealing? Turning the page could simply mean applying the lessons learned and could actually lead to a better understanding of what to take seriously and what to let go. Either way, I win.

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