We all find ourselves in situations in which we feel wronged or misunderstood and we must have our say. We must be heard, making public pronouncements about what we will and will not tolerate. Often this is accompanied by strong emotions: anger, resentment, a feeling of being on the wrong side of injustice, outrage. This was the case of a friend of mine recently who had been invited to collaborate on a special project. Only when she began to work on the project, suggestion after suggestion was unacknowledged or disegarded. Infuriating as this was, she felt good about the project overall and has hopes of working with the same group again. She also felt strongly she should express her unhappiness about her treatment, which she did in a strongly worked email to the leader of the project. She did not get a reply. She also had a dream during this time of accompanying two shot-gun toting thugs or serial killers (male) as they sneaked around a town looking for random victims.
I asked my friend these questions: Did you get what you wanted in the long term (invitation to work on another project) by expressing your unhappiness with the situation? “No” Do you feel you changed the other person’s viewpoint or attitude? “Not likely!” Did you hurt the other person’s feelings? “Probably not – ?” Could you suffer any blowback that may hurt you or your cause? Yeah, probably.” So, in this situation, an alternative approach would have been to wait for the next opportunity to work on a special project with the same group but clarify expectations before hand – and accept the fact that nothing may change. Weigh it out: would it still be worth it to work on the project if nothing changed?
But what to do with the frustration that’s bound to arise if she chooses to work under these same circumstances? Journal and walk. That’s right. Sometimes emotions cannot be expressed without permanent damage to relationships, especially in the workplace. So, my suggestion was to begin today and journal thirty minutes per day at least five days a week and to walk one hour a day at least three days a week. This allows a safe expenditure of energy, the chance to clear the mind and a way to express the emotion. In dream language the serial killers go to a shooting range and safely fire away until the bullets are gone.