Thursday, February 21, 2008

My acupuncturist is out of town. Last week, I visited a new one. Her office was full of natural health magazines, and I started perusing them.

One magazine had a life-coaching column. A guy - let's call him Oscar - wrote about his job. Oscar was in his last year of a job before retirement, and his boss asked him to switch departments. Since he wanted to please his boss, he did. It turned out that his new job was agonizing, and was making his very last year on the job a miserable one.

So the life-coach started analyzing: What could Oscar have done differently to begin with? He could have asked to try the job for a couple of weeks. He could have asked to speak to some other people in that department to "feel things out." He could have been more assertive with his boss. Yet it wasn't only that Oscar wanted to please his boss, they discovered. Oscar was afraid of conflict.

Oscar and the life-coach wanted to figure out how this fear of conflict affected other areas of his life. Oscar realized this was the reason he was still involved in a relationship. He liked this girl very much, but didn't see a future with her. He stayed in the relationship because he was afraid to hurt her, afraid of the conflict that would ensue. The sessions with the life coach gave him the courage to end things. It also cleared up other areas of his life, and helped him end this negative pattern.

I started thinking; I'm a lot like Oscar. There's many choices I've made in my life because I was afraid of conflict - my Hebrew school job is a prime example. When I spoke to my mashpia about taking the job, she wisely advised me to try it for a month. She told me to stipulate this to the Hebrew school director, that I was trying it on a trial basis. When the month came and went, I saw it was too draining on myself and my family. Yet I didn't quit. I blamed it on my tenacity, but this article helped me see the truth. I have stayed in other situations for far too long, being afraid to stand up and make positive change.

My fear of conflict has adversely affected friendships, as well. I have emotionally constipated myself in order to maintain peace, but that's not true peace. And that's not what real friendship is about, either. It took a certain friend to "call me out" on something she didn't like, to give me the courage to move forward and explore this issue.

Anyway, we have this stupid school scholarship dinner coming up. I have to submit an ad to the dinner journal. I typed it up, and made sure to give it to one of the women in charge of journal ads. So last night she said to me, "Maven, are you writing up something for the journal?" And I said, "I gave it to you already, remember?" "Oh yes, that's right." This morning I had to call her about another issue, and the journal ad came up again. She thought perhaps she gave it to the other woman in charge of the journal ads. Would I mind emailing the other woman about it?
I almost told her I would send the email. But somehow, I mustered up the courage to say "No."

Now, I didn't say, "This is your drama and you need to resolve it." This particular woman is in a position of authority, and it would be disrespectful of me to tell her to fix it herself. So I just said, "I'm sorry, I won't be near the computer today. If you could email her yourself, that would be helpful." I know I didn't exactly tell the truth. But I didn't put myself in a situation that I would have resented, either.

It feels like a small victory.


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My Photo Name: Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven
Location: Chutz l'aretz - Outside of Brooklyn

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