Monday, February 14, 2005

Maintaining Composure

The Baal Shem Tov had a unique interpretation of a verse in Tehillim (16:8). The verse states, "Shivisi Hashem l'negdi samid" - I have placed Hashem before me at all times. The Baal Shem Tov explained that the word "shivisi" has the same root as the word "shaveh" - meaning equal. Thus, the verse can also be read, "It is all equal, Hashem is before me at all times." We should view every event that we experience with equanimity, knowing that everything comes from Hashem and is ultimately good.

Viewing everything as equal is extremely difficult. It takes a tremendous amount of work and practice. I am not even close to reaching this level. Working to maintain composure in the face of ridicule and insult is something I am now working on.

I am tested on a daily basis by a co-worker named "Sandy". If you could imagine a person with no soul that person would be Sandy. We work together in a "cube farm" and my cubicle is located next to her cubicle. Every day without fail, Sandy is in a horrible mood and breathes fire at all those around her. She has unreasonably high expectations with herself and others and is constantly frustrated and angry. Because of the proximity of my cubicle, a lot of this is taken out on me.

Perhaps I should look at Sandy as a test. Hashem arranged that she would sit next to me to teach me to overcome my own anger and to teach me how to maintain my composure when being verbally assailed.

G-d willing, Sandy will disappear into thin air when I have learned this lesson and have passed the test.


At February 14, 2005 at 1:02:00 PM EST, Blogger Tamara said...

This post really hit home for me. I used to work for someone who was very critical. She would employ various tactics, including shaming, in order to feel good about herself and project an image of competence. The fact that she was my boss made it a very challenging situation.

I ended up leaving the position after my first son was born, but I still think of that situation often, wondering how I could have dealt with it differently. Displaying equanimity is very difficult, but it's a wonderful quality to cultivate. When people realize that you're not going to get caught up in their little psychodramas, they'll relent.

Sandy had major issues, obviously. I am sorry that you have to put up with her. If you can provide specific examples of behavior that is problematic, maybe we can brainstorm and come up with ideas to cope with her toxic attitudes.

At February 14, 2005 at 2:59:00 PM EST, Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

Sandy's home has been burnt to the ground her children scorched beyond any recognition, on her way home to said inferno she is hit by a truck and will spend the rest of her pathetic life a drooling parapolegic,with only gehnom to look foward to in the afterlife for what shes done to you.
Feeling any better

At February 14, 2005 at 3:11:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

I don't wish that on her. My blessing for her is like the rabbi's blessing for the czar in Fiddler on the Roof:

"May G-d bless Sandy, and may He keep her far away from here."

At February 14, 2005 at 4:01:00 PM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

"Amen" to that,ASJ!

At February 14, 2005 at 4:55:00 PM EST, Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

You don't wish it on her, but yet you did not remove the remark as you are wonted to when you are unhappy with a comment.Look inside of you ,you maybe uncomfortable with why "This post has been removed by a blog administrator"is not in my point's stead.

At February 14, 2005 at 5:56:00 PM EST, Blogger Erica said...

I went to a "women in leadership" seminar early last year. Some things I knew before, some I needed to learn again. Most were not specific to women. This one is universal.
Some people in our lives are 10s, some are 2s. We need to avoid making a 2 into a 10 because we only have so much room for 10s in our lives. 10s are our family. 9s are our close friends. 2s are the people who cut us off on the Beltway this morning. Except that you work with Sandy, she sounds like a 2. Working with her, makes her a 4 or a 5. You still need to leave her at work, and not bring her home. Save the important time for the 10s and you will be better able to deal with the 2s, and the 5s, appropriately.

At February 14, 2005 at 6:35:00 PM EST, Blogger Alice said...

OK, here's an idea right from my favorite rabbi. Maybe Sandy is a pleasant substitute for something much worse that you had coming your way. So if you can tolerate her negativity without responding in kind, you are in essence scoring major points, while she's digging herself a gigantic hole. She's helping you make corrections. At least you aren't related to her!

At February 14, 2005 at 6:56:00 PM EST, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Here is a thought. Maybe you can supply Sandy with a small laxative each day.

It might not brighten her outlook, but it could help extend her breaks a little bit longer and make life more comfortable for you.

Co-workers can be difficult.

At February 14, 2005 at 7:11:00 PM EST, Blogger Smooth said...

I'm sorry to hear about your situation with Sandy. I also work on a cube farm and I can relate. You have my sympathy and I wil say a prayer for you to know peace of mind on your job. Look at the support you have from your readers. We admire you but no one admires Sandy. Already you are way ahead. As for Sandy, if she's just a co-worker, you can talk to her boss. If she's your boss, you can walk into HR. You won't be asking for revenge or doing a lashon hora, but you will be getting something important off of your chest. Your value as an employee is just as important as her value, if not more. If the superiors are not aware of her behavior, make them aware. Also, the next time she acts out her dysfunction, you can stand up and say, please don't talk like that to me again, then you can sit down. Repeat as necessary. It works wonders.

At February 14, 2005 at 7:36:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thank you all for your comments. I appreciate them.

At February 18, 2005 at 12:48:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if Sandy wasn't placed there for You, but rather, you were placed there for HER? It sounds like she is a very unhappy person and needs to fing Truth! Once she is right before G-d then she will be a different person.


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