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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Personal Responsibility, or how Harry Potter applies to real life

I started this entry a few weeks ago when trying to find ways to deal with a difficult co-worker:

Today’s mantra: I am responsible for all of my own actions, feelings, and reactions. I am only responsible for myself.

Today's post is inspired by my pain-in-the-ass coworker. This person is the epitome of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Complain about this. Bitch about that. Make passive aggressive comments direct towards me in the meeting I'm chairing. Refuse to work together to fix apparent issues that have come up. This person is the classic example of passive-aggressive "but I'm the victim" mentality, and using that to bring others down.

I should be beyond this, but it's like being back in high school all over again: "Why don't they like me? I'm a nice person!" Watch as my self-confidence is hacked apart.

Personal responsibility is a huge part of this pagan spiritual path I'm walking (or trying to follow, at least). Over the years I always have to remind myself: I am only able to be responsible for myself. I cannot control other's reactions, but I can choose how I act, what I say, and (to an extent) how I feel. So that is my lesson for today. They can only "steal my power" if I let them. I can only feel like crap if I let myself feel like crap. I must be strong. I must be confident. And I must remember that I must be doing something right if people are feeling threatened enough to lash back like this.

Today I participated in a workshop all about learning how to deal with difficult people and stumbled upon another lesson: I can be a difficult person too, and I contribute factors to these conflicts. 

Well DUH! What a "blinding flash of the obvious," as our facilitators said.

It's another factor of personal responsibility that we can easily forget: that our actions directly contribute to the escalation and outcomes of these conflict situations. Or any situation, really. As someone who claims to follow a path that emphasizes taking responsibility for our selves, choices, and actions, I must be aware of my, shall we say "less-than-awesome" qualities. It's easy to play the victim (so-and-so is so mean, boo hoo for me) and not so easy to admit and accept that your actions were a contributing factor. I really hate being wrong/in the wrong and am loathe to admit it even when I know its true. I can see that this will be a big area for me to work on.

As for the co-worker above? She became my Boggart in a closet. Later that same day after I wrote that draft, she made another snipey comment that was just so ridiculous, the only thing I could do was laugh. And, like the dark-loving shape-shifter, the thing I was afraid of burst into a wisp of smoke and I was free to go about my day. 

The Divine works in strange ways, it heard my desperation and certainly gave me what I needed. Now, if I could only figure out how to dress Professor Snape in Neville's grandmother's clothes...