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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Reactivity and Grievances

Last night just as I went to bed, I was inspired to pick up my copy of "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. I opened the book, as one does, at page 64 and my eyes were immediately drawn to a passage entitled "Reactivity and Grievances", which made me laugh when I consider the three grievances I lodged against my former employer, which only last week were finally resolved.

Tolle says that a grievance is really nothing more than a long standing resentment. To carry a grievance is to be in a permanent state of "against", which is why grievances form such a significant part of many people's (and I include myself in this) ego.

A grievance is a strong negative emotion connected to events past, sometimes a long way past, which is being kept alive by compulsive thinking, by the mind constantly re-telling the story of for example, what happened to us, or what such and such did (in my case, ex employers). It has the power to contaminate large sometimes unrelated areas of our lives (and you cannot get much larger than the world of work, which most of us spent a third of our lives enmeshed in), for the negative charge that it carries can and often does influence the way in which we speak and react towards people or situations in the present.

When I stop to think about this and how my own problems with various jobs have affected my life, this is very true. The latest incident was the last in a long line of problems with various different jobs. I have observed that when I go into a new job, or have an interview, it is almost as if I am anticipating problems, and so so that is what I end up creating. This series of events has as Tolle says, kept me in the grip of ego for when I think about it, the past 25 years.

It requires honesty and a lot of soul searching to come to that realisation, but when I look beyond the thoughts to the emotions that keep this alive, and are the body's natural response, I recognise that there is a lot of work to be done, and a lot of people that I need to forgive, not least of all myself. Forgiveness happens naturally when we realise that holding a grievance has no purpose other than to keep us trapped in ego, the false sense of self, thus perpetuating our own suffering.

The past has no power to stop me from being in the present moment, only my grievances and my pain can do that, and what is a grievance? A bundle of old thoughts and emotions about something that no longer exists.

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