In my past job I found it very difficult to be able to handle situations that required confrontation, anger management and diplomacy in order just to survive in the working environment.
Although I quit because I couldn't stand anymore the stress and the anxiety (however situations weren’t at all like that when I entered this job 10 years ago) - I want to know how to apply the inner peace in such a challenging environment, when you are confronted daily, when there are clear attempts to manipulate you daily and you see all these things in front of you.
After quitting I had a very hard time with myself. Thankfully, this situation was the beginning of my awakening. But I had to suffer a lot.
Sometimes I'm still suffering but things are so much better when I let suffering raise and just watch, being the witness of the suffering.
However, I want to know: How to have awareness in such working environments and how to act consciously to change - for your benefit- such situations.
Thank you so much for your time.
The first thing I would say is to bring presence in to your life when you are not in a challenging situation. If presence, stillness or peace are not in your awareness when you are in a more calm environment, then when challenges do arise - reactivity to confrontation or anything else will completely take you over.
To feel yourself as the awareness behind thought and emotion is obviously far easier when you do not have a colleague challenging you or piece of work to do with a short deadline. However, if your mind is in control of you when you are not being challenged, then being free of reactive patterns will feel near impossible when you are challenged.
When not at work, notice how often you think negatively about work or the people you work with. Any negativity, resentment or hostility towards working life act as foundations for much more severe reactivity and unhappiness whenever a challenge arises.
As much as you can, when not at work, rid yourself of negative thoughts around work and around people. To do this (as you have mentioned) let these thoughts or feelings come, but only observe them, do not judge, allow them to be. They then naturally weaken by themselves. Noticing their futility - that they only create suffering - is also very helpful
Then when a challenge is presented at work, not only will you be more naturally present and at peace, but there will be a weaker structure of negativity and resistance inside you, which will not be able to grow inside so severely whenever you are challenged.
To sum up the first point – whenever you are not at work, use this as the foundation for inner peace. Be the observer of your thoughts, redirect attention away from the mind by using breath awareness, inner space awareness, outer space awareness, surrender and non-resistance etc. – this is laying your foundation, and increasing your natural state of presence and peace.
Then when you are at work, your natural state of presence will be more apparent, with the enhanced ability to surrender to the moment and to not harbour negativity. As a result, negative reactivity in response to challenges will have less power over you – there will be more space around them.
Challenges will arise. Instantly accept what is happening, including the internal reaction that comes up. Even if there seems to be an attempt to manipulate you, simply allow what is happening, to happen.
This does not mean you will be paralyzed from taking effective action. Far from it. You will become empowered by something deeper, non-personal. Your actions will not be contaminated by negativity, personal relationships or reactivity, and instead your action will be more clear and non-harmful, if action is required.
It is easy for the ego to take over in the workplace. Not only are there many personal relationships, there is also the apparent hierarchical system, and the ever-present background of people getting paid. Where the ego can thrive can also be the place where it can become hugely exposed and transcended. Use work to let your ego react, so that you can observe it nonjudgementally, allow it to be, and therefore disidentify from it spontaneously.
Do not expect the ego to just dissolve at once. It will likely react and contribute many times to what goes on around, and sometimes draw you into complete identification. All of this is ok. Just being aware that this is happening is enough. Be patient with yourself, and rest in silence.
Let silence and space be the background of your life. Maintain some awareness of silence and space, both within and without, as much as possible. You may find that with a greater awareness of inner space, your ideas and thinking will be cleaner, sharper, and your interactions with others will flow, almost as if they are taking care of themselves.
When confrontation arises, have the attitude “bring it on, let this all happen” – not as a personal fighting attitude towards another, but as a surrendered attitude towards life. Totally surrender and let action take place through you, rather than having the person in the head deliberating and reacting over what to do.
Confrontation can burn up the ego extremely fast, if you can feel yourself as the awareness behind the mental reactions, rather than getting completely dragged in by them.
A work environment can promote minor negativity such as complaining what others do (even if this is just a mental complaining to yourself). Even this is resistance. Resistance always hurts, and isn’t actually very helpful. Accept others as they are, and from this place, if it is in your power, you will naturally say what you can do to help, but it will not come from negativity – rather it will come from a deeper, natural, creative place.
Non-resistance is the key, surrender is the key, which is all part of being present. The biggest trick is the ego’s view of non-resistance being equated with non-action and paralysis. You may find you have less need to act, but whatever you do will be more useful, and non-reactive. You may even find yourself in a direct confrontation, saying whatever is necessary, but beneath this will be a feeling of space, a sense of non-seriousness, or even lightness.
Once the feelings of dread or negativity around work and colleagues begin to dissolve, effective action will take care of itself. Act from acceptance, working with what the moment presents, not against it. From here your abilities in whatever line of work you are in will be most effectively utilised, and nothing will be taken too personally for you.
More could be said, since the workplace will present so many different opportunities and challenges, so if you need to ask anything more feel free. However I hope this answer can help in some way.
All the best,