Have you experienced days when going to work feels nothing less than going to war? Dealing with the day-to-day drama can make life overwhelming. You feel like you are constantly fighting people and situations. You might even land at the breaking point where you fall into the “I don’t care” anymore zone. Just getting through the day seems like an epic struggle.
In such a state of mind, you may achieve success in your projects, but it will leave you exhausted and unfulfilled. It sucks the joy out of the job that you once loved doing. The good news is that there are small changes you can make to improve the quality of your life at work. However, why are you experiencing negative emotions in the first place?
Suffering comes when you rely on your external environment for happiness. No environment will be perfect or conducive to your happiness all the time. When you’re able to stop looking for happiness outside of yourself, and focus on building it within, you are taking a big step towards positive change. As a result, you remain unscathed and protect your happiness. The way to do this is glad acceptance.
Typically, our resistance is towards external factors which are out of our control. Instead of fighting with people and situations, accept them graciously. Acceptance is a step towards inner peace.
Let’s say you lost a deal or a contract you did landed you into a legal dispute. Accept that it has happened, and you will see your mind starts working on creative solutions to move forward. Fight it to defend your ego, and it will breed frustration and eventually despair. It is common to see people attach emotions to outcomes instead of effort. This creates stress and anxiety. After putting your 100% into the effort, accept the outcome graciously, whatever it may be.
This mindset comes with practicing living in the present and self love. If you believe that you put in your best effort, the effort itself becomes the reward. The outcome then feels like an incident and not a reflection of you. If you attach your emotions to outcomes which typically are not in your control, you swing between delight and despair – both of which compromise your inner peace and could even lead to anxiety.
If you experience unfair behavior from your co-workers; once you accept it and let go, it will turn into forgiveness. Instead, fight it and it will breed hatred. Forgiveness comes from humility and empathy. Swallowing your ego isn’t easy, but it’s worth doing this so to reconcile the negativity into positive emotions. If you are unable to detach yourself from people and situations to see things objectively, you can get caught up in a cycle of negativity.
Let’s say an exchange with a colleague is turning unpleasant, and you sense that they’re getting increasingly aggressive. In that moment, pause and take a deep breath before you get carried away by negative emotions. Never return anger with anger.
Instead, listen to the other person and acknowledge their concerns and frustrations. It's often possible that both of you are right in your own ways but there’s a genuine problem on hand that's causing the frustrations. Detaching yourself from the problem will allow you to see it the way the other person does. This will, in turn, empower you to respond in a measured, calm manner. While dealing with people, make a conscious effort to be compassionate. It's more important to be kind than being right.
When you see a peer getting a promotion you thought you deserved, accepting and applauding their success will turn it into an inspiration, else you will burn in jealousy. Do not measure yourself against others. Instead choose to look for virtues in every person and aim to develop those too. You can always find something positive in any situation. It may feel fake at first, but the more you applaud others, the easier it becomes. Remind yourself that their success is not your problem, your comparative thinking is.
I have learnt over the years that it’s not worth wasting my will power on fighting every urge I have or on winning every argument. Acceptance is the master key here. Also, it needs to be authentic and from inner work. Do not confuse it with situations where you accept out of lack of another alternative. Such forced acceptance becomes painful.
Acceptance out of compulsion is not contentment; rather, it is helplessness, dependency and powerlessness. True acceptance puts you right into the driver seat once again and in control of your emotions. The fact here is that we cannot dictate the outcome, but we can control our responses and turn them into our favor even if the outcome wasn’t.
Change is a gradual process, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you slip up along the way. As we learn to turn our negative outcomes into positive emotions, the result breeds happiness.
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