When Something just Pushes the right Buttons
You know what I’m talking about, right? That situation, colleague, employee or partner that just seems to push the right buttons and gradually frustrates you or people around you?
Corporate and life in general isn’t easy and the more you experience it, the more you see it basically becoming a jungle where many animals roam…
Just to imagine a few, some hide during the night (low tide office hours employees), others hunt from the trees (executives challenging only when trouble hits) and some just seem to walk around having a great time, not knowing exactly what’s going on, but still do what they do.
On top of that, you have a bunch of external actors that come and go, consultants, the new guy, the intern, the new client and then meetings...
Each has its own mantra, emotions, frustrations, limitations and these come and go drastically from one day to another; from one project to another.
The only way we’ll ever move forward is through solid outcome independence. But I’ve already written something about this subject, so I feel we should go just a bit deeper into office culture and talk about ressentiment (also called resentment).
Why? Well, simply because I think many have a challenge with this, and this is my site, so why not?
So let’s go on a jungle adventure and get some perspective and tools at the same time. But please remember I’m no expert on this and many other subjects (if you are, please contact me we should really do something about it). But, I am very aware, and see people depending on very simple and repetitive things in life, but lack the understanding of them.
Based on one of my posts, outcome independence (OI) is the idea that you should never be fully dependent on a single outcome, thus making you more powerful in the process.
Very few tricks I found are as powerful as this. OI makes you practically invulnerable in the corporate world and life in general. But it doesn’t guarantee results in any shape or form. It does give you a solid foundation and a good start for being your own master, as you’re able to create new and more opportunities in the process.
But why is it so important? Why is it so powerful?
Well, for one, I found the OI process enables you and people around you to minimize potential negative emotions and most noticeably ressentiment toward others, situations and complications. In this, I found a tremendously powerful relation between both (OI & ressentiment) and here’s why.
Wikipedia defines ressentiment (also called resentment) as a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one’s frustration.
With that in mind we can easily imagine a scenario where you work hard on a deal or a project for some time then present the findings or result to others and they just seem to grab the info and move to something else very quickly.
Maybe the response is positive, so we’re all good, but maybe the response is negative or even worse, there’s just no answers and decisions once we’re done; simply little to no feedback. This is where the relationship of OI and ressentiment suddenly takes place.
If you make yourself or work with an OI mindset, there’s a good chance you’ll just glide through the negative or unresponsiveness. But if you get caught in a jam, and stick to trying to understand why people went silent or negative, the outcome may, and usually create or even ignite ressentiment.
I see this very often around me, and kills me when I do. People become biter, frustrated and keep focusing on things they have little control over instead of being proactive and creative. To a point where they fall into an even deeper state of frustration & protection called Solipsism (essentially being one’s self, me, myself and I, the one to exist – it’s really a protection mechanism found in human psychology – but that’s maybe for another post).
But that’s not the ultimate catch with ressentiment? What is?
Once caught up with ressentiment, people start and keep scratching the subject, the meeting, the person and keep wondering what they could have done differently, changed or said. Emotions erupt and things just get worst with time.
Ressentiment is a deep emotion and if you get it to haunt you, it may never leave. And the worst thing is that building up resentment makes you the ultimate victim as you bottle up that frustration, and keep bringing it up within yourself, week after week, month after month, even year after year.
I’ve personally witnessed people “carrying” around resentment for things that happened years even decades ago and they just can’t let it go!
Ressentiment is an emotional monster building up inside; it’s a backpack that always stays on your shoulders and it only gets bigger and heavier in the process. Ish! that sounds bad, and you know it profoundly is.
But with most everything, we should just learn let it go and deal with. But how can we do that?
There are few tricks I found that really help, as we can all try to get better at some point in our lives, and I’m no exception – we are all humans. I’m sure each and every one of us went through something similar. Especially myself, as I don’t like confrontation per se, so sometimes I’ll just keep things for myself and there you go, the building blocks of ressentiment lay their foundation.
But we can fight this, and start making our day-to-day life’s much healthier. So here we go.
When you live something or go through a situation you feel is unjust or unfair, just mentioned it right away (to the proper player of course – no need to fill the room in the process with anger or anything). Don’t wait for weeks, months or even years to say something as it will only build up and get bigger and heavier in the process.
Address the person or the team and just get it over with – check that thing as done and apply a little dose of understanding at the same time. Don’t carry around the memory of and just make sure, calmly, that this leaves your head as soon as possible.
Even if we work through outcome independence, it’s totally fine to live frustrations, I do.
So once you did the talking and communicating and added some understanding in the process, go walk outside for a few minutes. And make sure you don’t spray the ressentiment feeling around and on others in a continuous fashion. As people will most definitely get bored of your whining and will eventually just close their door to you, or plain simply just leave you.
Sideline: Whatever you’ve heard from society, people aren’t fundamentally interested to hear about your feelings for a long period of time; trust me, this is one of the greatest lies created in today's society. Empathy is a short-lived clock. A few minutes may be fine, a discussion here and there, but nothing more. So make it quick and to the point, vent and that's all good. And if this feeling is really eating you up inside, get help; it’s around.
Another trick to remember. Never forget that you may have caused the same to others, and you just didn’t realize it! This is a big one and I thought it was necessary to share. We humans tend to think we’re unique and sometimes flawless; and may think in the process that we’ve never caused anything similar. Well, you did, I did, he did, she did, we all do. Accept it and own it.
You, at least once (or many times) in your life, have caused frustrations, ressentiment and many other emotions to others and that’s fine. If or when they come to you, don’t freak out and listen to what they have to say. None of us are perfect, and unicorns don’t exist and that’s all good. Cause if unicorns existed, we’d have leprechauns and I hate those.
Another one for you... stay Zen. Except for very, very few people I’ve met in life, none of us wake up in the morning and say, “Ah, I absolutely want to create ressentiment in others today.” If you do, please get help, because if that’s the case, you become a potential leprechaun and that will totally freak me out.
But seriously, a few ways I’ve found to stay zen is simply to go outside walk around and breathe some fresh air. You can always go to the gym later and hit on a sand bag or something. Have you ever tried just relaxing, meditating, yoga or something? Basically, once you’ve stated and discussed intelligently the subject, take a break, breath, relax and come back more powerful. If it takes you a day or so, fine. If it takes longer, you need help, so get it!
One last trick I've particularly powerful is to live in the moment. Stop building up projections and unseen outcomes. Do what you have to do and stick to what is here and now. Once you focus on that, you'll minimize possible emotions built up on personal distortions and outcomes that never were. This goes hand in hand with not imposing emotions on others. Stop thinking about what others are thinking and be the best you can be.
Ultimately, if others aren't giving you feedback and you think they're pissed or disappointed about something you did and they say nothing.... the burden belongs to them, not you. You should never imply what others are thinking without proper information and others should never blame you for something that has never been properly discussed.
One of the worst thing someone can do is blame you for something without even giving you the chance to answer to it. I see this so many often and hear things like, "He or she should just get it". Well no, they don't. Take two seconds of your precious life and express yourself in a structured manner and say something. Let people understand what's going on a be free of it once and for all. It really goes both ways.
There is no right or wrong; these are emotions, feelings.
This is it for now. I won’t go to deeper in the subject as I’m far from being a psychologist. I just wanted to let you in on this relationship I think is more present than we think and the importance of identifying what we’re sensitive to.
I know I was and still am sometimes, but as we get more experience, we also get better. We’re able and develop skills to deal with emotions a lot more intelligently. We all get better and that’s a win/win for everyone.
That’s exactly where practicing outcome independence (OI) becomes so powerful. It's not about not caring, but being free and moving on with more control and happiness.
If by any chance you feel you still can’t snap out of ressentiment, please get some help. Whether the resentment you feel has been there for weeks, months or even years, go talk to a professional. I’m sure that for some of you, your employer offers help with these kinds of challenges, help lines and support - so used them.
Never think you’re too good for help, as tools are at your disposal to be wiser, stronger. Learn to close the door on this, as we need to remember, we are sometimes and most usually our worst enemy.