Dragon ladies

I work with a rude, patronizing back-stabber. She is successful in her career because she possesses undeniable talent, but she only cares about advancing her own prospects. She has insulted me in front of my peers, belittled me in front of students and made me feel that what I care about is not worthwhile. She has taken advantage of my skills without reciprocating. I watch her bully her way up to the top. Her attitude poisons the atmosphere at work and makes me want to look for another job.

My (male) boss says this is a catfight, that I am holding grudges, that I must swallow my pride and extend the olive branch for everyone’s good. I have tried to make peace, but she refuses my friendly gestures. Must I move on, or should I force myself to get along at any cost? Is it OK to say “enough"? She makes me feel angry and defeated. Why does she have such power over me?

Your ego (the neurotic part of it, anyway) has decided that it needs her approval. She withholds it (she doesn’t need your approval), and that sends you into a tizzy. Anxious and off-balance, you scheme methods of manipulating her into seeing you as an accomplished, competent, interesting equal. It doesn’t work, of course. I think that it is time to say “Basta!” to yourself. Stop being so needy. Over time, your codependent behavior will wreak havoc in your career.

Your boss’s dismissal of the situation as a catfight concerns me. It speaks to his lack of skills in handling difficult employees. Although there may be more to the situation than you have revealed here, he needs to learn how to manage a community, which is what a company or department is. Most managers are trained to supervise work projects but have no idea how to build community.

I once worked with a woman who regularly ridiculed me in front of co-workers, withheld information that I needed to do my job, and disparaged my education and training. I tried to speak to her about it, but she dissed me. So, I talked to my supervisor. He said, “She’s a dragon lady but means nothing by it.” The situation grew worse, so I talked to his boss. She said it was a personality conflict.

I began to sit regularly in silent meditation, bringing the face of my nemesis into my mind and sending her love and compassion. I continued this for one year. When I no longer felt animosity toward her, an interesting thing occurred. One of her confidantes unexpectedly explained to me why I had been the “dragon lady’s” target. He wanted me to know that I had done nothing wrong; she just chose me as the focus of her negative projections. Your situation is different, but you can still benefit from holding your nemesis in love.

Why would a girl get jealous when her boyfriend or husband is close to his sister? And why do some guys get jealous when their girlfriends or wives are close to their brothers? This confuses me because the love between siblings is different from the love between husband and wife or brother and sister. One can’t take the place of the other.

Jealousy is the compulsion of people who have been dramatically abandoned or betrayed. Sibling intimacy is especially threatening, because the siblings share a history that the jealous person cannot compete with. If your loved one is jealous, time and patience must be your companions. If you are jealous, make a commitment to trusting your partner, even at the risk of losing them.

Meditation of the Week

“Life is never painful. Our interpretation of life is painful,” says Byron Katie, creator of The Work. As challenges pile into my life, I try to remember Katie’s wise words. And you? What needs reinterpreting in your life?