I’m a big planner and organiser. I think a good dose of certainty has a calming effect. Of course it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, and that’s even more important to remember when one’s plans are ambitious and wide reaching (which mine often end up being). More difficult still is recognising that the unexpected can bring much needed challenge that actually creates a better outcome.
While I don’t have a “life plan” per se, I feel one of it’s milestones is coming up – my son is preparing for his first holy communion. I wasn’t brought up as a catholic myself (that would be my husband) but I’ve put a lot of effort into getting to this point. This time nine years ago we were planning our wedding and planning to move house to across the road from the school where we were planning to send the baby we were planning. Nine months after said marriage we brought our first bundle of joy back to our new house and planning went pretty much out the window.
Going to church is part of the preparation, and at first this presented itself as a chore. Getting up early on a Sunday, talking religion with other parents (and a priest) then sitting in a church that’s always way colder inside than out…it’s not my idea of fun. But despite all that I surprised myself when I discovered I actually enjoyed it. I’ve even been going there when I don’t have to. There’s something about the quiet contemplation and ritual that’s calming and comforting. And maybe it’s just because I’m always trying to connect the dots, but it actually does provide some answers.
Yesterday at work we were having a giggle over lunch and somehow ended up talking about phobias. Being the geek of the bunch I started looking up definitions on google and stumbled across allodoxaphobia, or fear of opinions. Specifically it’s a phobia of hearing other people’s opinions (I think we’ve all known someone suffering from that). But joking aside, opinions are a scary thing and often that comes from caring all too much about what other people think.
The word redemption, meaning “to be saved”, certainly has religious overtones, but also a resonance in our daily lives. The decisions made by HR can have far reaching consequences. We can put people back on the right track, or we can force people down a track that is wrong for them. Such actions can impact not just on the opinion of others about the employee (other employers, colleagues) but the opinion of the employee about themselves and their self worth. On the classic Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it’s right up there near the top.
Such worries – what other people think of us, what we think of ourselves – are symptomatic of both the modern, and developed, World. I’m sure everyone has opinions, but my problems must seem very trivial to someone struggling to put food on their families table. While in HR we’re worrying about engagement and staff opinions of the company, there’s workers elsewhere to whom a job is a job and a means to an end. They’ll be earning a pittance making the commodities out employees will spend their wages on.
So, I wouldn’t say I’ve found religion, but I’ve definitely felt something good and positive. It’s like the stillness has helped me see the bigger picture, and find perspective. To realise that my worries are trivial in the light of the hardships of others enables me to let them go. This clarity provides the courage to change when I know I’m on the wrong track – and that strength is truly knowing yourself. I will think less about opinions and more about impact. For at least that hour every Sunday I’m focussing not on planning but the here and now. This might even be my redemption.