What Do I Do With My Negative Emotions
When I Feel Violated?
©2003 Vivian Ellis Zabriskie
When confronted with acts of hurt or betrayal, the temptation
is to respond by assuming the role of 'helpless and hopeless victim' wanting
to be saved. We give in to our sense of powerlessness. Instead of tapping
our inner strength, we wimp out, sell out, or numb out, allowing our spirits
to be broken. Or, we may take on the role of false hero, attacking the
unpleasant challenges by lashing out, taking our frustrations out on others.
We use force, scape goating, or frivolous litigation to get our needs
False victims and false heroes alike invoke a variety of
destructive responses. The list is long: real and vicarious revenge, denial
and avoidance, fantasy, self-justification, blaming, self-pity, indifference,
and cynicism. Avoiding the rites of passage to adult responsibility at
work, we deny the reality of our higher, nobler selves. [For more information,
see In Search of Harmony:Becoming
Your Own Hero at Work,
Chapter 3, Refusing the Call: The Victim Response]
Yet, all these responses to hurtful situations at work by
the now self-deluded victim only delay the inevitable. Eventually, these
painful feelings surface and the law of the harvest prevails. Buried,
unresolved feelings never die. They just come back in more harmful ways,
often as a neurosis. Curing a neurosis is so much more difficult than
facing the truth that the neurosis was designed to avoid! In the words
of psychiatrist Carl Jung, 'Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate
suffering.' More simply put by Benjamin Franklin, 'Those things that hurt,
instruct.'" [Chapter 3,
Refusing the Call: The Victim Response]
The person who takes the above approaches in dealing with
their negative emotions finds herself trapped in the Cycle
of Organizational Pain. However, we may escape this vicious
cycle through the pathways that lead us out of the vicious cycle: Understanding
the Cycle, Choosing not to Participate, Practicing the Golden Rule, Using
Self-determination, Forgiving Others, Giving Honest Feedback, Showing
Consistent Character, and Increasing Organizational Savvy.
There are many myths that keep us entrapped in the cycle
of organizational pain:
Myth: I have to stay here, I have no other place to go.
Myth: There must be something wrong with me to feel the way I feel.
Myth: I am responsible for all the consequences of my behavior at work.
Myth: The enemy is out there.
Breaking out of the bondage of pain in our worklife is not easy, but most
likely when approached from a spiritual perspective. In Bonds of Anguish,
Bonds of Love, Terry Warner reinforces the necessity of such an approach:
The only change that matters is a change of heart. Every other change
alters us cosmetically but not fundamentally, modifies how we appear
or what we do, but not who we are. Our hearts change when resentment,
anxiety, and self-worry give way to openness, sensitivity and love of
The subject defies understanding. Our troubled emotions are so foolish
and self-destructive that it is hard to see why we would ever allow
ourselves to indulge in them. But equally they are so entrapping that
it is hard to see how anyone could escape them. Indeed, most who teach
and write about them offer techniques for changing behavior, not feelings.
They assume the unlikelihood of a change of heart.
But in the end, if we do not make that change it wont matter
much what other changes we have chosen.
In Chapter 4,
Accepting the Call: A Commitment to Healing, we learn
to take the first steps towards making that change of heart and dealing
with our negative emotions. Three critical steps towards that end are
If you cant claim it, you cant change
The responsibility for reconciliation is more personal
If you cant name it, you cant change
These are the first steps towards reconciliation. It is the reconciliation
process that helps us to get past the negative feelings and onto the healing
The process of reconciliation is multifaceted, integrating and coming
to terms with the mental (logic and rationality), physical, emotional
(feelings), spiritual (soulful things), and social aspects of our lives
at work. Body, mind, and spirit are so intertwined that all aspects must
be dealt with if healing is to occur. Otherwise, when either part is missing,
real, lasting change never occurs. We may make small improvements but
never enduring ones. Professing otherwise only perpetuates our cynical
reaction to organizational flavor-of-the-month and continuing
dissatisfaction. Reconciliation at work begins with accepting responsibility
for whatever mess we find ourselves in and finding ways to become wiser,
to become whole, to increase our confidence, to avoid the mine fields,
and to help others do the same.
There are no magic steps to healing difficult wounds. Thus, you will
need to ponder deeply the concepts detailed in In
Search of Harmony:Becoming Your Own Hero at Work. See more in
the Free Book:
Heroworks: Becoming Your Own Hero at Work