I used to be a bitch
“There is a sense of disrespect or stubbornness that is felt by your leaders.”
This is a quote from a performance review I received a few years back. I’ve saved the review all this time because it said a lot of nice things, too, that I was really proud of. That I was a strong leader, highly creative, and well-liked by my team.
This disrespectful part always sticks with me, though. I was upset and angry about it.
Mostly, I was ashamed of it, because it was true.
You see, I was strident because I felt like management was pushing us too hard and making us work too many hours and not even trying to fix it.
I felt constantly and self-righteously outraged by it.
And even though I can tell you in retrospect that management was indeed guilty of these sins, I can also tell you that I was handling it in the worst way possible. I was angry and argumentative. I would flatly refuse requests. I was, to use their words, disrespectful and stubborn. To use my own word, I was a total bitch.
If I could go back and talk to that Laura, I would tell her two key things:
The first is that acting that way is not only uncool and unkind, it doesn’t get you what you want. Negativity never does. Of course, this is a lesson I’d have to learn (and keep learning all the time) through direct experience.
The second is to be careful, because using that behavior as a defense mechanism would color the way I thought of myself for at least two years after that. In other words, I started seeing myself as a bitch. Because that’s how I thought of myself, that’s how I acted a lot, especially at work. Even after I’d left the job where my bitch-self was born. Not only did I act in ways I’m not particularly proud about, viewing myself that way hurt my self-image.
It wasn’t until I started meditating regularly and trying to quit drinking that I realized I could change that narrative.
I’m not actually a bitch. I’m a person who felt pushed into a corner and acted the only way I knew how at the time.
(Those previous two sentences took at least six months of hard mental work to fully understand and believe. Another reminder of how powerful and influential our mindsets are).
Now that I know that, I can practice acting with kindness and patience and positivity. It is much more satisfying.
We all think of ourselves as a certain type of person. I’m suggesting that you don’t have to be the type of person you think you are. That you can question that and update that and act accordingly. And updating that inner idea of yourself is where real change begins.
If you’re the type of person that reads books, it’s easier to read books.
If you’re the type of person that exercises everyday, it’s easier to exercise everyday.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t sweat the small stuff, it’s easier not to sweat the small stuff.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t drink, it’s easier not to drink.
If you’re the type of person that’s not a bitch, it’s easier not to act like one.
You get to define the type of person you are. And that can be radically different from the type of person you think you are right now.
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