We sometime don’t like people because they are a glaring image and constant reminder of the parts of us we hate.
Not too soon after separating from my ex, I inherited a woman on my staff who I totally could not stand when I first met her. I could never put my finger on it, but something about her just rubbed my nerves raw. She would cry about everything. She would cry during supervision. She would cry during staff meetings. Every time I looked around, I was handing her a piece of tissue. She never met a deadline, and always had a rational reason for it.
She always was always getting someone else to do part of her work. She whined about her personal life. She whined about her professional life. And those wonderful qualities were not what bothered me the most. When we would sit down and talk about it, she always knew exactly what to say that was needed to improve her performance…she just never got around to making those improvements. I was sitting in a meeting complaining about this woman when a co-worker said , you may not like her because she represents the parts you are trying to kill in yourself. That hit me like a ton of bricks.
When I saw this woman, I saw her as weak. I never wanted to be thought of as weak. And yet there were times when that was exactly what I was. I saw her as indecisive, and at times so was I. I saw her as manipulative, and yes, there were times when I had this trait as well. These were parts of my personality that I had recently shed, or so I had thought. When I saw this woman, I saw me, and it was not the me I liked, and that was uncomfortable and painful
I had recently found the strength to be OK with not being married. I had taken pride with the steps I had taken to become strong, and independent. I was basking in the glow of my freedom from an emotionally and psychologically abusive marriage. I had come out the other side as a whole woman. Or at least I thought I had. I had become more assertive. I knew what I wanted out of life and for my life. I was living how I wanted to live, where I wanted to live. I was living in my truth. Yes, I was Jill Scott, and my life was golden….
Then here comes this chick. Reminding me of me, the woman I did not like. The ugly person that I used to be. Wendy the Weak. Wendy the Scared. Wendy the Manipulator. I thought I had put in a lot of work removing these negative traits from me. I had killed them. Laid them out in the desert to be eaten by the vultures. But this woman was standing in front of me, like a mirror, showing me that those parts of me that were still with me.
Since I could not fire her, my boss would not let me, something about a great opportunity to challenge for my management skills, I did the only thing that I could do, and that was to embrace her. I had to get to know her, and show her love. I reminded her that she did not need to use people to get what she wanted out of life, she had the power to get what she wanted herself. I was able to develop a genuine relationship with her. I began to care about her. And in doing so, I realized that I was also embracing myself. I was getting to know me better. I was reassuring myself of my strengths. I was showing myself that I had the power to get what I wanted out of life. I had developed a genuine relationship with myself .
I came to understand that I did not need to kill the weak, scared, manipulative parts of me, but I needed to nurture them to where they were not negative traits, but became positive qualities. I understood that I cannot be strong all the time, but that is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of humanity. I learned that being scared is alright and that a good bit of fear goes a long way in allowing me to safely live. Being honest and transparent, when I communicate with people means that they will feel comfortable to be honest with me and then the need for them to use me or me to use them disappears. As time progressed, I saw changes in both of us. We both grew personally and professionally, and we actually made a pretty good team, and accomplished a lot of good work.
When I run across people that rub me the wrong way, I just don’t throw them away, because I may be throwing a part of me away in the process. I look and see if it is me. Sometimes it is, but then sometimes the other person really is a jerk, I just take the time to get to know the jerk better…lol.