Avoiding Antagonists

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost

As a fifth grade teacher I experience a considerable amount of stress. From dealing with angry parents, the endless demands of administrators, or apathetic students, it is very easy to become frustrated and lose your cool. Teaching is an extremely difficult job in which the hours are long, and the rewards are few. It’s very easy to get lost in the pessimism and blame-game that has now become public education. We are held accountable for many things we can’t control (like parent involvement) without given any resources or power to make positive changes. This is very difficult environment to deal with, and most days you go home feeling completely defeated.

This is true for many professions, where we feel like mindless cogs in the machine, overworked, underappreciated, and pushed to our limits. Some people handle this pressure better than others, and can shrug away this stress to fight on another day. But yet others let the demands of their job get the best of them, and they become an antagonist to everyone around them. They want you to know how miserable they are, and it feels like they are actively recruiting you to join their legion of doom and gloom.

Prior to practicing mindfulness, I was apart of this army of antagonists (I may have even been a general, thought I don’t know if I’d want to give myself too much credit.) I wanted to gripe and complain about anything that I could. I saw the worst in every person, situation, and there was not problem too small that I couldn’t make a mountain out of. I gravitated to the other antagonists at my school, and together there was nothing we couldn’t destroy with our gloomy attitudes! Oh how misery loves company!

I have since realized that happiness is mental, and that by using my mindfulness skills, I can positively deal with the demands of my job, and not let it bring me down. But in order to stay positive, I have found it absolutely critical to stay away from the other antagonists at my school Negativity loves company, so avoid these coworkers at all costs, and this will dramatically effect how you feel at work.

My mood, outlook, and attitude have all greatly improved as I have actively tried to surround myself with more positive people. I spend more time being productive instead of participating in “hallway drama/complaint sessions,” and I am happier professionally than I have ever been. Instead of letting every little thing bother me, I create my mindful space and let it drift away. Do I still have bad days? ABSOLUTELY. But I no longer feel the trapped, miserable, and hopeless feelings I once felt. By putting myself in the right frame of mind, and analyzing situations for what they truly are, I can let the silver linings of any bad day carry me toward a positive experience.

What have you done to try and create a more positive work environment? Or are the antagonists in your office smothering your happiness?


5 thoughts on “Avoiding Antagonists

  1. Pingback: Avoiding Antagonists | Mind-FULL

  2. Hi Josh- you are so right. The negativity is “contagious” and I am always so much happier when I am not exposed to it. It can very difficult to stay away from, but one thing that has really helped me is to put positive pictures, notes, or sayings by my phone (a constant source of negativity) and my computer screen. There are little reminders to keep on the positive side!

  3. Amen!! I have taken to the Nemo philosophy of just “keep swimming, swimming, swimming” when the negativity patrol is on the move. It’s truly hard to hit a moving target!!

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