From anger to acceptance (part 4/4): letting go

It had been 2 years now since I heard that I would not get a promotion at work. Two years of anger –  and now I was ready to let go.

Relax

July 2011. I was in my cozy bed, slowly waking up, when suddenly letters came into my mind. WYTAR, all capitalized.

WTF??

Confused I asked what this meant. It wasn’t any word that I could identify.

After some pondering, I decided that because the letters were capitalized, maybe it was an abbreviation? But for what?

Then the thoughts came that it could mean, ‘Watch your thoughts and relax.’
Or ‘Wipe your thoughts away, relax.’

It sounded like an attempt from my guidance to communicate with me. And since I was not trained to listen to their words, they had to use an abbreviation to get their foot in the door.

Giving up at work

I had finally made peace with the fact that I would not get a promotion. I still did all the work as before. But I was not attached to the promotion anymore.

Journal entry of Sept 9, 2011:

I have given up at work. It feels as if I get no appreciation. Not for programming. Not for my cooperation with the other department.

I feel resigned and a kind of relaxation. Pleasantly quiet. Listless and apathetic. I don’t care anymore.

Whether I spend an entire week to do a PC upgrade or whether I do something more ‘useful’, it doesn’t matter. It’s all like occupational therapy anyway.

When the world is just a dream, why should I be engaged? What’s the point of it all?

The only important thing that counts is waking up. Getting out of the dream.

And somehow things fall into place now.
Those projects where I didn’t want to participate are either canceled or staffed with other people. These are all gifts from the universe. My older child is about to stop singing in the choir, just in time so that I don’t have to do the dreaded task of having to sew a costume for their musical performance.

Maybe my state of relaxed listlessness is quite a good thing.

Gimme!  Gimme! Gimme!

Nov 4, 2011. In my mind, I heard the song Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! by ABBA.

I looked up the lyrics and thought, ‘Yeah, please give me someone to take me through the dark night.’

By giving up the attachment to a promotion, I had on the one hand gained some inner peace. But on the other hand, I also felt  listless and apathetic. My usual passion and engagement was gone. A bit like a dark night of the soul. And I wondered who was going to come along and take me through that dark night?

ACIM workbook start

Even though I had read the textbook part of A Course in Miracles a while ago, I could not make up my mind to start the lessons in the workbook.

But on date 11.11.11, I eventually started the lessons.

Maybe it was Jesus and his words in ACIM that were meant to help me through the dark night of the soul?

Inner discussions

It was not like detaching from a promotion and doing the lessons in the ACIM workbook would immediately work wonders for my emotional turmoil. Rather, I was still in constant inner discussions.

What was the solution?

Should I rather work as project lead because that was more rewarded than doing coding development even though I did not like the work as a project lead?

Nah. Career was not that important to me that I would force myself to work in a role that was not fun for me.

Or should I drop my engagement?

That would mean I would have to give up the programming which was so deeply satisfying. I feared that I would become depressed if I did that.

Or maybe I could  continue to work with passion and engagement like before even if I would never get a reward for it?

That sounded like it would be the ‘spiritually correct’ choice. To do the work that was fun and give a damn about whether it was rewarded or not. And also to do selfless service. I thought that I had to try to choose that path. And I tried. But every time I attempted to work like before, the anger would bubble up again, ‘It will not be rewarded. That is unfair. I feel exploited. I am angry.’ So, that path did not work for me either.

Maybe I should leave the company?

Well, I needed the money. Just dropping everything here with no idea what else to do would put me into fear because I would have lost my regular income.

Or maybe I should at least change the department?

Good idea. But hard to do because I was working part-time. Besides, I figured that the problem of anger about too little appreciation would follow me around wherever I went.

No. I would stay and find out what happened.

It was now more than 2 years after my colleague had let me in on the secret that a functional career path did not exist here. And I my mind was still running in circles.

 

New salary group

End of January 2012, because of a new rule in our company, I was placed into a higher salary group. That would allow for more pay raise than in my previous salary group for the next years. Woohoo!

That was one of the gifts by the universe after I had started to let go and make peace with the situation at work and after I had started the workbook lessons of ACIM. And many more gifts would pour in later.

This is a pattern that I have experienced over and over again on this journey. Whenever I manage to come to a state of inner peace about a troubling situation, then things will change for the better.

Layers of emotion and an experiment

I had noticed that my emotions came in layers. I would stay with an emotion until it dissolved, but then some new emotion would show up underneath.

Below the anger was sadness. Sadness, because I felt worthless when didn’t get the appreciation that I felt I deserved.

And below the sadness, there was anxiety. Like a diffuse fear about an unknown cause. I wondered where it came from. Maybe it was a fear of the dissolution of my known sense of self or a fear of being non-existent?

Also, I was afraid that I would fall into a depression when I followed this route of detachment towards work. I was afraid that I would fall into a nihilistic hole with apathy, listlessness, and an overall feeling of meaninglessness.

I decided to make an experiment. What would happen when I let myself fall into detachment?

Depression? Or inner peace?

I was curious.

Inner peace

By end of March, 2012, I had stopped doing ACIM lessons (- I got only till around lesson 100 (of a total of 365 lessons)). Instead, I had discovered the Raj material (Raj aka Jesus channeled by Paul N. Tuttle) and devoured the transscripts of the gatherings (informal Q&A sessions).

My state of mind was peaceful, blissful, and very detached from work and any of my usual concerns. Listless, without any motivation to do anything, but peaceful.

Nothing mattered.
I would never get a promotion – okay, never mind.
Our house needed to be cleaned – that didn’t matter.
My child wouldn’t do his homework – but I didn’t care.

Now, let me clarify this. It wasn’t as if everything went down the drain. Somehow the basic important things were done – at work as well as at home. It was just that I didn’t invest that extra struggle or control that I would have invested previously.

Also I want to clarify that merely detaching from the promotion was not the end of letting go. There was more letting go to be done later on the path.

After I had detached from the goal to get a promotion, I felt the imbalance between the effort that I put into my work and the reward. I mean I could accept that there is no promotion. But doing all the work as before with the same amount of passion and the same amount of responsibility and stress? Well, that was an entirely different thing to let go of and would come much later in the journey. And finding forgiveness and  letting go of resentment and grudges was yet another process.

Is it okay to be detached and peaceful?

But I wondered: Was it okay to be that detached and peaceful? Wasn’t I overdoing it when I didn’t care about my normal duties?

Then synchronisticly, I came upon a Raj channeling where someone asked whether it was okay to feel listless for a longer time.

And Raj’s answer was, yes, one could compare it to a symphony where the violas have a long break of several dozens of bars. The symphony was designed this way that the violas have a break. They didn’t need to feel guilty for their lack of involvement.

I was in awe that my request was answered so promptly and took the metaphor with the violas as a sign that the forces behind the veil were approving my new state of mind.

***

Using the metaphor of a hike for my spiritual journey, the winding road uphill had become rocky again due to the anger at work.

During the rocky time, I took a leap of faith over an abyss when I bravely managed to get off the allopathic meds (see previous post).

I was shown with much stick-and-carrot-guidance that anger would give rise to undesirable results and inner peace would result in miracles.

On my uphill path, I had reached another turning point when I managed to let go of the need for a promotion and came to inner peace about the situation. I was as if I had thrown a heavy rock out of my backpack. I was now walking uphill with much lighter baggage.

Anger_letting_go_3

 

 

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

Prev
Next

 

From anger to acceptance (part 1/4): anger

When I came upon A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which is a Jesus channeling, I found it difficult to read, but it sounded like truth. I slowly chewed my way through the textbook of ACIM, and thought, ‘Sounds like this is somewhat more substantial than the Law of Attraction stuff. But unfortunately, it can only be applied if you are really angry with someone.’

Well, I wasn’t angry with anyone – not at that time.

Boooom! (Imagine fireworks and a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat)

“Here you are,” said the universe, and gave me something to be angry about – a big ‘forgiveness opportunity’ (as they call it in ACIM terms) so that I could practice the application of the book-knowledge (- yeah, I know, be careful what you wish for).

Let me share some background information about this.

Passionate about work

In my job, I was involved in a work process which required me to deal with errors in a last-minute fashion. Just before a deadline, there were always too many errors and too little time to have them corrected by other departments.

One day in 2004, I was so fed up with this high workload and the resulting stress, that I thought,  ‘There must be an easier way. Why can’t these errors be found and prevented much earlier in the process?’

And so,  I set out to develop a pilot tool which did exactly that: find the errors earlier in the process and lessen the workload at the end.

I poured all my heart and mind into this tool. I loved the creative and meditative aspect of the computer programming that was involved. A calm mind and deeply focused thinking about how to tackle an issue, the process of having a question and then getting the answer using intuition. The sense of satisfaction, when I could see that my little invention actually worked. How delicious! That was my preferred mode of operation since school and put me into a state of flow.

Then the management of our team realized that this new tool was a good thing. And they wanted to set up some projects in order to spread its usage.

Even though I had had the idea for this new tool and had developed a pilot implementation, I did not apply for the position of the project lead for these new projects. I rather worked on it as a project team member because that would allow me to focus on the development of the coding rather than the coordination and communication tasks.

It was deeply satisfying to me that the new tool could help many people to lower their workload and stress. I was proud of my ‘baby’, passionate about my work, and felt very engaged.

But besides the passion I felt about it, would my work be recognized and appreciated by the management eventually? This thought did not really take center stage for several years. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I always hoped, ‘Eventually, I will get a promotion for it someday. There are not only the management and the project lead career paths, but there is also a functional career path in our company. And this is the one I would like to choose. I am sure this will be properly appreciated at some time.’

Disappointment

But in July 2009, a short conversation shifted everything.

“Why are you leaving?” I asked a colleague who was about to change to another department.

He told me that he had heard from the higher management that a functional career path didn’t really exist in our department. And he was dissatisfied that good tool development was only rewarded with a pat on the back, but one wouldn’t get promoted for it. The rules were certainly different in the rest of the company, but in our department, only project leads of large and visible projects would get promoted.

What?!?

In our department, the functional career path existed only on paper, but not in reality?!
I couldn’t believe it.

Later, I asked my boss about the issue. He told me that he could not give me a promotion because I did not have the role of the project lead. He also said that, contrary to the rumors I had been told, the functional career path did  exist. In theory at least. But one needed to show the same qualifications as a project manager regarding areas such as communication skills, organizing skills, and visibility, for example. And that it would just take considerably longer to show these qualifications if one did not have the role of a project lead.

So, hairsplitting aside, it basically meant that I would have to lead projects in order to get a promotion. Invention of new processes and tools for improved quality and efficiency was allowed, but not rewarded.

I still couldn’t believe it.

In my frustration, I talked to another colleague about it. He said, “Considering what type of work you like (i.e. design and development of coding), I would suggest that you give up the wish for a promotion entirely.” That was extremely blunt and also correct. Of course, it was not what I wanted to hear.

So, I had just found out that my contribution at work would never be appreciated the way I expected.

Big disappointment. Big disillusionment.

After all, I was so used to getting a lot of praise for my work since school. Excellent work was rewarded with good grades and prestigious scholarships.  That was a huge part of my self-image. Now, this self-definition of me was threatened.

Anger

I was disappointed, felt treated unfairly, and became angry.

I was upset about three things. First, because the functional career path was not treated equal to a project management career path. And second, because this was disguised and not openly communicated. And third, because my self-definition as a high-achiever was threatened which not only made me angry but also sad and ashamed.

At work, I had to make the choice between doing what was appreciated (project lead) and doing what I like (design and development of coding) – and I chose to do what I like. That means, despite the disappointment, I still did further development and maintenance for my tool. But I couldn’t help thinking about this situation all the time, especially when my mind was not occupied otherwise.

Ironically, I was able to work calmly when in the office. But when I did not work and when my mind was unoccupied, feelings of resentment crept in.

The work which had once been fun and fulfilling suddenly wasn’t so much fun anymore. After all, I felt treated unfairly. Of course, I saw that the anger was not healthy for me. But somehow I found it very hard to ignore that part of me that was angry and wanted to set boundaries.

Again, like during the time when I could not dance anymore due to the rheumatoid arthritis, I thought, ‘How can I ever be happy again?’ I had derived so much joy from my work. But now, knowing that it would never be appreciated the way I expected it, I felt I could not continue with this work. Otherwise, I would feel exploited.

In addition to the anger, I often wondered what had gone wrong. I had followed my joy and intuitive urges and had done something which was a beneficial contribution at work for me and my colleagues. In previous times in my life when I had followed my joy and intuition and then had taken action with intensity and dedication, things used to work out well. I wondered why it was different this time.

Here we go! After three years of merely reading spiritual books, I finally got some real work to do in order to regain my inner balance.

About five times each day, the inner thought stream would play, ‘How unfair! My work is not appreciated. The company doesn’t deserve my engagement. If I continue with the same level of dedication, it will result in burn-out.’ On and on, for hours each day.

I had to find my inner peace again. But how?

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

Prev
Next