This was originally published on Lipstick and Politics, HERE.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
At one point in my life, I was not happy in my job and became resentful.
The feeling would creep in on a Sunday evening, mental ruminations would begin and I would feel my blood pressure rise. By the time I woke up on Monday morning, I felt exhausted, negative and dreading the day ahead.
My manager had gone on a hiring binge a couple of years before and as I had expressed to him at that time, I was afraid our department would run out of work. My manager was one of those people whose importance was linked to the number of employees he had. Surely someone with twenty-three people in their department could garner more respect and authority than someone with only eighteen, right? As predicted, our department’s work had dropped off considerably and I was feeling insecure about my job. That made me angry.
I found myself in a conundrum. I did not feel comfortable expressing my anger to my manager since I did not want to take a risk in an already precarious job. On the other hand, not expressing that anger over time had turned into a consistent low-grade feeling of resentment. As time wore on, I found myself working hard to keep snarky comments to myself. I felt tired all the time. I viewed everything related to work in a negative light.
I began to feel trapped in both my job and in my feelings of resentment. So, I finally convinced myself that I had to speak up to my manager. Would doing so achieve anything? Well, it wouldn’t magically create the work our department needed. It would not change my feelings of job insecurity. In fact, in the short term, it made them worse, since I was always afraid of retaliation for speaking my truth.
Why is speaking our truth such a difficult area for many of us? From a fairly early age, we may have experienced anger or other negative reactions from adults. Many of us had parents, teachers and other authority figures who forbade any feedback and would retaliate or cut off any child who disobeyed that command. As adults, we have continued in our childlike behavior, rooted in the fear that others will react as when we were children.
So, what if they do? It is important to remember that as adults we have developed far more resources than we ever had available to us as children. As children, we had nowhere to go in the face of retaliation from parents. As adults, however, there is no one who has control over us. In the midst of difficulty we may feel knocked off center for awhile, but we have the resources always available, inside of us – and outside of us – ready to be accessed.
Walking around in quiet resentment had no potential in getting what I wanted. Speaking up allowed me to access all of the potential in getting what I wanted. Speaking our truth is one of the most courageous acts we undertake in life because it allows us to face one of our most basic fears. It is about saying and being everything we are because it is how we get what we want in our life. Did I want to be fired? No. I wanted job security. However, if I was in a culture in which speaking up resulted in retaliation, then I was already in an insecure environment, wasn’t I? In other words, speaking up really didn’t risk anything.
By denying a part of ourselves, we cannot show up authentically and therefore cannot really be seen for who we are. When we are authentic, we attract the right people and situations toward us. I had reached the point where the anger and resentment had exceeded my fear of losing my job. I had learned to trust that the universe would provide another plan if my manager decided to be a jerk and fire me. Eventually, I did speak to my manager – in a mature, open and respectful manner. Did it change anything? It didn’t change the fact that there was not enough work in our department and it didn’t change the possibility that my job may be eliminated.
It did, however, clear out my feelings of resentment. I stood up a lot straighter after that and felt proud of myself. I was able to let go of the feelings of insecurity because I felt as if I had begun to take charge of my fate. I also began looking for another job.
I felt strong again.