These last couple of weeks I’ve been having difficulties with a co-worker. Both of us recently got promoted to similar positions and are required to work together. From the very beginning I sensed a streak of competitiveness from her. She would cut in when I was talking, take ownership on projects that we were supposed to share without telling me, and so on. The relationship kept spiralling downward until we were barely talking, which was painfully awkward because we sit next to each other. The only solace I had during this time was knowing that if I changed my perspective on the situation, then everything else would follow.
In other words, I was the one that had to change – not her.
I’ve experienced competitiveness from women in other work situations. Until now though, I never questioned my part in it or how I was creating the pattern. It was always the other person. But I’ve read enough books and had enough experiences since to know what when something is happening on the outside, its germination probably came from me.
Even when I wanted to shirk the blame onto my co-worker [and sometimes this felt really, really good], I knew it was something in me that was causing it, and I could change it. But how? It was frustrating to have this knowledge and, yet, not know how to solve the problem. All I could do was feel the feelings they brought up.
Then, I started to trace the pattern back to where they might have first started for me. I remembered childhood moments where I felt similar feelings. Slowly, I revisited parts of my past that mirrored my present day situation. Every time I did this, I felt less anger for my co-worker. Then a few days ago we began talking as if nothing ever happened. The slate was wiped clean. Instantly. Suddenly, she seemed reasonable and helpful. All the competitiveness I’d been sensing from her vanished. Each day since has been easy, and with the occasional smile.
In the moment we connected, I saw how resolving issues within myself could change other people. And it may be the easiest, quickest way to change others. In actuality, it wasn’t her that was creating the difficult situation, it was the way I was feeling inside. I read in a book years ago that we unconsciously choose our adult relationships so that we can resolve what we couldn’t during childhood – we’re constantly trying to heal the hurts from our past.
To change this relationship, all I did was work on myself. We didn’t have to talk it out or work through anything between the two of us. It was all about acknowledging and feeling locked away emotions from my past. Having experienced this wonderful shift, I’m starting to wonder what else I can change by simply changing myself.