Hard Day at the "Office"

Friday Coffee Time

While both of us have retired some time ago, we both have jobs: Pat works in elder care and I with various coaching and Pathwork engagements and, most-office-like, my various roles at Sevenoaks.

Gary: I was involved in two key Sevenoaks phone conference calls yesterday (over 3 hours of meetings) and an intense engagement regarding a financial budgeting matter, all leaving me tense and worked up in some way. I felt blown away by some of the strong energies at these meetings, unable to hold my own. I was frustrated that the items we seemed to focus most on and have the greatest energy for were operational and tactical, not the strategic and visionary subjects that enliven and inspire me. At times I feel ancillary to what is even going on as the other stronger personalities wax on, trumping the points I am trying to make. And on the operational matters I have no energy or interest, yet these are what seem to engage the others. My frustration is that we cover tactical and operational items with no strategic context to set criteria guiding our tactical and operational decisions. Some of the topics have no business being on the table for us and should be handled as operational matters by those responsible for operations. I can see that I have lots of energy here, lots of judgment! Yes, I am worked up! This way of working on these key committees is not working for me! Should I quit or what?

Pat: And at my job, it seems that cultural patterns define folks: they have a strong need to “work,” their identity is tied up in getting work done instead of simply being with what is. They are so “On Task!” in their work, oblivious to things apart from work, and I hate that. I want to scream: “Wake up!” It drives me nuts.

Pat: But let me pause. I see the intensity of your energy here, and I want to ask, “Gary, what is the pattern in you that gets in the way of others hearing you?”

Take each person with whom you feel in conflict in these engagements. What gets in the way of their hearing you?  What I hear is your arrogance! Your energy says you feel above them, you demean them and their working at operational and tactical levels rather than the “much higher” strategic levels you think warrants your time. You see your way of looking at things as correct and elegant and think the way others look at things is hopelessly confusing. Regardless of the words that come out of you, the energy of arrogance is there and perhaps this energy, unconscious to you, plays a role in their not hearing you, and not wanting to hear you.

Now think if you accessed all the energy you have around this arrogance and anger and put it in service of clarity, used it on behalf of the clarity of your message. Gary: You named it! It is arrogance. I can feel it. And it is my child’s defense against feeling the pain of being dismissed, the pain of not being heard, seen, and respected. Pat: Yes, the pain of not being able to be you, not being seen, being dismissed – yes a whole pool of pain, indeed!

Gary: As with Mom and Dad – I could not be seen or appreciated as me. I had to fit their modes of behavior and success. Very familiar! And my response back then became a kind of arrogance: I would get good grades, and have certain achievements, but I would hide these from Mom and Dad as their punishment for not seeing the real me that lived beneath the surface of my “success.” Over time, however, I took on a role of arrogance – identified with my achievements – and expected my achievements to get me what I wanted, to earn me power and influence over others. And this arrogance was a defense against the pain of not finding the strength to show up, the strength and courage to be me. I could not just be me. Pat: So this situation at the “office” of Sevenoaks is not at all about “strategic vs. operational decisions,” or about “should I stay or should I quit?” Rather it is about working with your arrogance.

Gary: Yes my “beautiful problem” of working on these various Sevenoaks committees is about working on my defense of arrogance – my defense against feeling the pain of not being seen, appreciated, by Mom, Dad, the church, school, other organizations, even peers – and now these fellow committee members at Sevenoaks.

So what does “working on my defense of arrogance” mean? I am drawn immediately to Pathwork Lecture 203, that part of this lecture to which Moira referred me nearly 3 years ago in a similar situation (Click here to open relevant quote from Pathwork Lecture 203).

Gary: Here is what the Lecture says about arrogance, or, here PRIDE of the familiar Pride-Self-Will-Fear triad: See the same bothersome situation [my frustration at the “office” of Sevenoaks] from the viewpoint of pride:  How are you acting from pride?  Then visualize the same situation, focusing on how it would feel to give up pride.  If the only alternative seems to be humiliation, then start probing for other possibilities.  Ask for inner guidance to experience yourself without pride, yet without humiliation and with dignity.  You have to make a real inner volitional step to be able to see yourself in a new way that reconciles dignity and humility and leaves out both pride and humiliating submission.  If you are ready for this possibility, even before you can experience it, the divine life will produce it from within.  But you must make yourself receptive to it.

Pat: Brilliant! Gary: This is soooo practical and soooo applicable to my situation with these various Sevenoaks’ committees. My being on these various committees, indeed, is my “beautiful problem,” the edge of my learning. Pat: Your staying on these committees, sticking with these problems, is your sandbox, your school of learning.

Gary: I am so appreciative of you and your naming what you so clearly saw, my arrogance. Our coffee time is so helpful. Pat: How are we able to be in the energy and space of this morning coffee time as we enter our day? I just do not see why this energy leaves as we get up to go about our business after such rich engagement. The “On-Task” nature of our work perhaps takes us away.

Gary: (Cautiously, recognizing the sensitivity of the situation) This “being on task” as you observe it in you and me as we leave our coffee time aligns with the culture and seems to be what triggered you about your work yesterday. Pat: (After pausing to take that in) I think that is dead on! Gary: Perhaps this “On Task” orientation that you see out there and can see in me and yourself is your “beautiful problem.”  Pat: That’s helpful. Yesterday was crazy making. “Why am I here?” Gary: Just like me! “Why am I here with Sevenoaks and all its issues?” Because this is my school of life just now. Life is about engaging our problems and learning from them – the purification process of healing our distortions, patterns, and the like that are the causes of our problems – not about escaping our problems or denying them or covering them over!

Pat: Bliss and Pleasure do not mean “No Problems.” The dimension of true Bliss and Pleasure is on the consciousness plane of the realization of Oneness, the deep level of awareness where we are arising out of our Divinity. Gary: Exactly – Duality consciousness of the earth plane we live in vs. Unitive Consciousness we are growing towards.

Pat: Here there is Deep Peace – in the deepest recesses of our bones we realize that’s what’s here. From this deep place of peace we can be with all this surface craziness. Gary: AND be in Bliss Supreme at the same time. Pat: Is Unitive Consciousnes the same as Bliss Supreme? Well sure it is – in Union.

Gary: The beauty of the Plan of Salvation – the pain we face in dualistic consciousness is the medicine that motivates us to Unitive Consciousness and Bliss Supreme.

Pat: It is noticeably painful this morning to realize that the energy of our coffee time doesn’t go with us during the rest of the day.

Shared with love, Gary