My coworker and I stared at each other dumbfounded.
We had been discussing a new project in my cubicle when my manager in the next cube gave us the shushing of a lifetime. My manager, who I’ll call Brenda, then sighed dramatically and went back to clacking away on her keyboard.
Really? Did that just happen?
My coworker rolled her eyes and gave me a look that said, “I’m so effing glad she’s not my manager,” and headed back down the hall.
I could feel my face getting hot as I turned toward my computer. It was always like that with me and Brenda. Like oil and water, our work styles didn’t mix at all.
As a 25-year-old editor, I was at the start of my career and still optimistic and peppy. Brenda was in her late 60s, and she was definitely frustrated about how much had changed in the publishing industry in such a short time.
We often fought about how things should be done, and I swear she took special pleasure in shooting down my ideas. She was the very definition of a toxic person.
For nearly a year, I had let Brenda get under my skin until I noticed a funny thing happening.
The madder I got about working with her, the worse my life became.
I started getting violently ill before work every morning, and I was having nearly daily panic attacks. The whole situation reminded me of this quote:
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” The Buddha
My sickness was my fault because I had allowed my relationship with Brenda to fester inside me. But I could change all that.
So instead of stewing in my anger that day, I pulled out a notebook and made a list of all the things I appreciated about Brenda. It took a while, but I did come up with a few things including:
- She never ate stinky food at her desk.
- She liked to stay in her cubicle instead of glaring over my shoulder while I worked.
- She always took her vacation days so I’d have a couple lovely days of peace and quiet every month.
- She would most likely retire within the next year.
As I wrote my gratitude list, I could feel the anger draining out of me.
I was in control. I could choose how I wanted to feel.
Of course, I did tell HR what a beeyotch Brenda was being, and a few weeks later I was assigned a new manager. But I know practicing gratitude made a world of difference.
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