Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fighting with Inner Demons

My life has been turbulent of late.

Most of it stem from work (what's new) but I struggle to come to terms with what's happening within me.

During the weekend, I decided to read on of the self-help books I bought couple of months ago. After reading two chapters, I wanted to throw the book away.

Was it the book? No. In my opinion I thought the first two chapters were good.

It was me.

I realised I had been fighting my inner demons all these while.

I know my inner demon. The mini-me who can come up with thousand of excuses, who can turn a deaf ear on reasoning, who can be defiant to the last. I sometimes have to fight my inner demon in the morning when I go to gym. My mini-me will be shouting over my head why I should not go to gym, and it's really very tempting to listen to mini-me at times. Gym is just no big deal as compared to what I have to face now.

The book stated that to get the most out of it, one needs to have "a driving desire to learn, a vigorous determintation to increase your ability to deal with people." This is something I truly struggled ever since I became a manager.

I don't regard myself as someone who has good communication skills. I find it tough for me to be 'in touch' with people even though I know I'm supposed to be doing it. I hate confrontation. I don't know how to overcome confrontation and I know probably the only way would only ended up hurting people, including myself. Some people say I place too high expectations on myself. It is as if I am my worse critic, but I know myself better.

Time and time again I attempted to change, but alas! Change is not very easy, and most of the time I retreated back to my comfort zone. I know very well I need to adapt to change as a path to self-improvement, but the thoughts of the pain and suffering was sometimes too much to bear.

Recently it didn't help when workload started piling up, escalations coming through and I simply hid behind my wall, refusing to take responsibility of anything. I was frustrated with certain aspects of my organisation as well as the workload. It was expected to feel this way, but I never thought it would be that bad.

As much as I wanted to improve, I have to battle with my inner demons first. The stubbornness and refusal to change, wanting to blame everyone but myself, sometimes conflicting with the insecurities I have. Human emotions can be so complicated.

The book hit a raw nerve when I realised that I need to come out from hiding, and to face life head on. Only from these adversities I will learn to be a better person (should I choose to learn). My inner demons do not like change, and I guess that's why I'm behaving like this. All this reminded me of a story that was circulated around the internet titled "A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean"

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as if as soon as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hard.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

The carrot seemed strong, but with pain and adversity, it wilted and became soft and lost its strength?

The egg that started with a malleable heart, but changed with the heat. It had a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, it hardened and stiffened? Its shell still looks the same, but on the inside it became bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart.

The coffee bean actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain. When the water got hot, the bean released the fragrance and flavor.

Are you like the bean? When things are at their worst, do you get better and change the situation around you?

When the hour is the darkest and trials are at their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

I really wanted to be the coffee bean.

But how?

Can I survive the warpath in front of me? Or will I break down and be the carrot or the egg?

God, please help me. Please be by my side when I go through all these the next few weeks, months, years ahead of me...


lilium said...

May I know what book you are reading? Change is hard. Sometime I feel a little low esteem when you see others are improving and coping with the change when I am not. And in other to counter that, I have to learn to move together bcoz I don't wanna fall back too. In where we are working now, we just have to keep running the marathon..been praying for all of us too at work =)

n i l e e y said...

it's called 'How to win friends and influence people' by Dale Carnegie. I think it's a great book, but need the right mindset to begin with.

ChinoDevean said...

It's tough to change because of fear. Fear of things not turning out the way it should, is the fear of the perfectionist within oneself. Where one is too proud to admit that one could be wrong. The illusion of looking good, and equating one's self-worth with flawless performance. Pray for humility, and convince yourself that self-worth is not a statistical measurement.

n i l e e y said...

thanks for the advice...

Javatia said...

Hey Missy,
I don't think there is a easy solution when it comes to inner demons. It's a conscious battle but don't give up because that's somehow like giving up on yourself. You will come out of this on top. I'm certain of it. Big Hugs and if you ever wanna chat drop me a line.