Boss Blues

My boss is a very difficult personality to deal with and the pain and pressure that he has inserted into my life have carried over onto many areas of my life...

4 min

Rabbi Lazer Brody

Posted on 18.05.08

Dear Rabbi Brody,
As a religious Jew in a hostile world, I have been dealing with an extremely difficult situation since I started my present job 4 years ago. My boss is a very difficult personality to deal with and the pain and pressure that he has inserted into my life have carried over onto many areas of my life such as self confidence, how I relate to my wife, children and overall personal happiness.
Usually on Sunday evening, I start to experience extreme anxiety and feel stomach pain as I think about the idea of returning to work on Monday morning. I have been working on myself throughout this tormenting situation and have actually learned how to not react in his presence to his anger and berating behavior when he calls me into his office to scold me for another wrong that he has found. His perfectionist attitude has created a standard that I can never live up to although I have tried.
I have been actively pursuing other career opportunities with no success. Often, I feel that Hashem has turned His back on me and has left me to be devoured by this tyrant. I even completed the book of Psalms several times, and have been strengthening my Talmud study. Yet, the sore spot of my life just doesn't change for the positive. Believe me, I try not to do the will of the Creator for reward but when it can help, I do pray for change. I am at the end of my rope. Please advise. Thank you.
Yours, Alan from Chicago
* * *
Dear Alan,
With a little patience, perseverence, and The Almighty's blessing, we're going to add some spiritual muscle to you, so you can dismantle the time bomb inside of you that's known as your boss.
First of all, the fact that you find yourself boxed in with no other alternatives at the moment is the sole doing of The Almighty. You write that "I feel that Hashem has turned His back on me and has left me to be devoured by this tyrant". The opposite is true. Just as dangerous viruses often act as immunization agents in our bodies, your tribulations at the hands of your boss are serving as a correction for your soul – either for something you did in a fomer life, or for a "kapora", or a substitute for something much worse in this life. What do I mean?
I just returned home from eulogizing a 42 year-old mother of five who died suddenly of cancer. I'm sure she would have preferred a nasty boss to the nasty disease. Although I don't have your spiritual printout in front of me, I assure you that Hashem is doing you an ultimate lovingkindness by troubling you with the boss, and not by other problems of sickness or poverty, heaven forbid. A nasty boss is a hundred times better than unemployment. Even more so, Hashem wants to strengthen you spiritually, emotionally, and physically so that you won't go through life being intimidated by creeps like your boss.
With that in mind, let's embark on a daily program to toughen you up and to make you feel better about yourself. Remember, your boss can't trample you like garbage unless you yourself feel like garbage.
Any Marine or champion athlete knows that suffering strengthens character. Neither the Marine nor the champion athlete becomes angry at the Drill Instructor or at the coach despite the grueling ordeals that they put him through. Both the Marine and the athlete know that they're Class – when the DI or coach yells "idiot!", they don't get insulted – they just strive harder. You can't make champions by stroking their foreheads. My own teacher and spiritual guide, The Melitzer Rebbe shlit"a, has figuratively torn me apart just as hard as my old DI's back in Special Forces did literally. It hurts, but it's all for the best.
Alan, we're going to make you a champion, too. Here's what you need to do:
1. I know that time is a rare commodity for you, but when you get home from work (or right after your evening prayers), I want you to put on a pair of sweat clothes and workout shoes. Do some stretch exercises like alternately touching your toes then reaching for the sky. Then, do a set of pushups followed by a set of situps. Start with whatever you can do, and increase the reps by 10% a week.
2. Now that you feel loose and limber, drink two glasses of water, and go walk for an hour. Walk as fast as you can, but hold a steady pace. While you're walking, speak to Hashem; begin with thanking Him for all your blessings in life, such as your wife, your kids, your health (100,000 heartbeats a day!), and your income. Then, make an inventory of your good points and talents, and thank Hashem for them too. Third, spill your heart out about the problem with your boss. You'll be amazed to see how fast the tables will turn completely around.
3. After your walking and talking workout, come home, have a nice supper with your wife, then learn The Garden of Emuna for a half hour before bedtime. It would be nice to learn that with your wife too.
4. Refrain from junk foods, tobacco, alcohol, and pills. Eat only what's good for your body (on Shabbat you can continue eating whatever you want, but don't go crazy).
Alan, if you follow the above regime for a minimum of 40 days (I suggest you follow it for life), I'll guarantee you that you'll feel both emotionally and physically like a champion. You'll exude confidence and a positive self-image, and Hashem's light (from the hours of your personal prayer, thanksgiving, and emuna developing) will reflect from your forehead. Without knowing why, people will automatically respect you and even fear you; your boss will be no exception.
So, in essence, you'll simply be changing your focus from your boss's blabber to your own good feeling and connection with Hashem. Your boss won't phase you anymore. Once you get to the point where your boss doesn't upset you, then you'll have made the necessary spiritual correction to your soul, and Hashem won't need to keep you in this tribulation any longer. Then, I believe that Hashem will send you something much better.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Blessings always, Lazer Brody

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