Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Awareness and Responsibility continued...

To carry on from the last blog entry I want to add on to my response to Kristen’s comment. I agree with her that while self awareness and self responsibility are important in the workplace “problem[s] can stem from the upper management of an organization and how well they are setting priorities and allocating their resources.” Part of that allocation, at least from my perspective, should be in providing a safe space for staff to speak about their feelings.

I know that sounds ideal but I recently started reading a PhD dissertation by Judith Martin called Relationships of Power: Exploring teacher’s emotions as experiences as interactions with their peers where she provided such a place for the research participants. A quick perusal of her study found her results quite positive. I’ll write more about that when I finish her paper but I’ve also seen the benefits when I teach my “Interdependence in the Workplace” workshop. Its empowering for people to know that their feelings of wanting to help (to the point of rescuing); wanting to be liked; feeling resentment and/or wanting to control others are part of being human. We all feel these things at one time or another with varying levels of intensity.

Each of us has a resentful part, a needy part, and a rescuing part. (I use these examples because they are aspects of the Karpman Drama Triangle — a model I use regularly to illuminate a certain relationship dynamic. See below for a quick summary of that dynamic.*) The question is not whether we have these parts but whether we are aware of them. In awareness we can look at each of these parts and notice when they are activated. In this state we also have the ability to choose whether we want to act on them. Without awareness, these parts can take over and lead us into dynamics like the Karpman Drama Triangle.

There is a quote by the amazing Jorge Borges in his short story The Immortal “No one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men… I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.” As with all Borges wrote, no sentence has one definitive meaning but for me, taken in the context of his story, we are all capable of all things. Taken in the context of this essay, yes, we are all capable but if awareness is combined with responsibility we can direct our actions with integrity.

Awareness gives us more than self compassion and a choice in how we want to behave. It provides us with knowledge that each of our parts, whether it be the one that gets resentful or the one that feels self pity, has a wide range of skills. For example, while resentment can be somewhat devious and manipulative, it is also clever at seeing where injustices lie. It sees weaknesses in the system and calls out for correction. It wants change; it wants to be heard. These skills do not have to be used in passive-aggressive or bullying tactics but can be used to change the system, whether that be how we live or how we work, for the better.

In awareness, the first thing I need to ask myself when one of my parts are activated is what is the cause of this feeling? Am I feeling resentful because I am tired or is it because I am witnessing an injustice? Or am I feeling this way because of an imbalance in my life — I am working too hard or not seeing enough of my family? When I find the answer, which will be unique to the event and person, the second thing to ask is how can I use resentment to help rather than hinder the situation?

So, if I am feeling resentful because I feel I am doing more work and getting less recognition, I can use that resentment to motivate me to first reflect on the feeling and then act on it in a respectful manner. If this feeling is due to an injustice I can choose who to talk to about it— my union rep, my supervisor or someone in human resources. Perhaps the situation calls for me to get politically involved and try to change the system from without. If my resentment is due to a personal imbalance, for example, I overwork because of a need to be seen/appreciated/valued, maybe it is time to get counselling, change my priorities or, perhaps, leave my job.

I’ve written before that nothing of what we feel is bad or invalid. It is what we do with those feelings that counts. Having a safe place, whether that be in the workplace structure or with a private mentor/counsellor, to express these feeling helps us choose healthier paths. When we set the task of serving ourselves and our community in a mutually healthy and respectful manner, we live interdependently.

* The Karpman Drama Triangle is a dynamic that can arise when we try to rescue another (especially without their permission) and end of feeling used or taken advantaged of when the rewards are not up to expectation. Overtime the potential for resentment occurs, especially towards the person we were originally trying to help.

No comments:

Post a Comment