Thoughts about Abuse

For the past week, my manager has been away. He is on holiday. Suddenly, with my manager gone, I’ve been happy at work. This is surprising given that my workload has increased significantly and as a result I have been feeling more stress (according to Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week, there is such a thing called eustress, which is good stress, and this contrasts to distress, which is bad stress). All the work that my manger did has now fallen on me, but I am still much happier at work.

All this proves to me that I don’t mind the work that I do, which is mainly just operational or administrative work. The main problem I have is with my manager. My guess is that he is stressed out with work and is taking out his anger on me.

I had a busy day at work on Friday but I managed to have lunch with a friend of mine who recently changed jobs. His new job is a manager position, so he’s had a pay increase. However, he admitted to me during lunch that he was struggling in his new role and was thinking of tendering his resignation. He plans to take time off and think about what to with his life.

He told me that his new workplace was filled with people who are overworked, and everyone there is suffering, and they take their anger out on everyone else, and he is obviously a victim of this aggression.

After work, I went to the gym. I normally bring a peanut butter sandwich to work but because I ate out with my friend today, I decided to eat the sandwich as a pre-workout meal. I was so amazed at how much energy I seemed to have at the gym as a result of eating a peanut butter sandwich! I found I was able to lift very heavy weights.

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While in the gym, the news was playing on the television, and there was a story playing about how the government was going to address domestic violence against women. An expert in domestic violence appeared on TV and spoke about how many women are dependent on their abusive husbands and if they were to leave their abusive husbands they would be homeless and living on the streets. One woman decided to leave her abusive and violent husband and instead resorted to living in her car with her four children.

While lifting weights on the chest press machine, I started to think about everything: me suffering as I worked for my manager, my friend suffering in his new job, and women suffering at the hands of their abusive husbands.

Human relationships are usually great in the beginning. There is definitely a honeymoon period. When I stated working, I was excited by the job, and I enjoyed being paid, and my manager must have been happy with me since he interviewed me and selected me. But things turned bad. Circumstances change. People change.

My friend’s new job pays him more than $100k, and I’m sure he was excited when he got the job, but then suddenly things turned bad.

When men and women go into intimate relationships, there is also a honeymoon period when the couple is in love and everything seems fine, but over time this seems to always go away, and marriage ties people together, so when the sheen wears off and the man and woman are tied together, that’s when there are problems.

It’s the same pattern that leads to abuse:

  1. delusion or optimism, leading to pleasure
  2. commitment, which is sought in an attempt to preserve that pleasure
  3. realization of reality
  4. captivity, that is, being trapped due to the commitment
  5. anger with reality
  6. abuse, as the anger needs to be channeled somewhere.

Delusion, commitment, reality, captivity, anger, and then abuse — this pattern is played out all the time across multiple situations where there is human interaction. It starts with pleasure and then ends with pain.

It seems to me that there is an abusive side to all people. Abuse is inherent to humanity. There is something within the human DNA that drives us to seek to subordinate weaker beings. We are all capable of hurting and abusing others. When we are angry, and there is someone who happens to be within our vicinity, someone who is less powerful that we are, then they automatically assume the role of a punching bag.

The key then is to never be in a position where you can be the victim of someone else’s abuse.

They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, but I believe that perfect planning is almost impossible because the future is unpredictable. Planning is often a failure because our assumptions are usually wrong. We plan to love our jobs forever, so we take on massive debt, and then we hate our jobs. We plan to be in love forever, so we marry, and then we hate our spouses.

So forget about planning the future. Focus instead on having an exit plan. More important than having a plan is having an exit plan.

Before you commit to anyone or anything, always have an exit plan.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

James 4:13-16

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