Dropping Acid

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

When I was in high school in New York, I was required to take a chemistry class as part of the curriculum. There was this one class where we were asked to take a few drops of acid from a beaker and deposit it on something. I remember all the bubbling and foaming where I had placed the drops until the acid accomplished its goal of eating through the item.

Most of us have excess acid in our system that eats us up from the inside.

Maybe you drop the acid of not being good enough or worthy and don’t believe in yourself in an interview. You may adopt the strategy of trying to “fake it until you make it” but, when you think about it, it may have slowed the drip for a little while but hasn’t made it go stop.

Maybe you drop the acid of being “nice” or that “people should recognize me for what I do for them,” or “they are all idiots who can’t hold a candle to me.”

All of these are corrosive attitudes that invariable cause others to fail to meet our expectations and turn us against them or ourselves.

I remember working at an agency some years ago where the acid of envy was eating me up, causing me to speak ill of colleagues to myself and outside the firm, poisoning my attitude. All they are doing is flipping unscreened resumes to clients or getting everyone to work on their jobs so they are filled and management dismisses and replaces many of the people who failed to fill the job. He’s the hero but there was a lot of collateral damage that cost a lot of people their jobs and management large expenses.

Many of you know the story of the young Siddhartha sitting under the bodhi tree while the Maras, the depictions of evil that might tempt (for example, doubt, lust, greed, etc) tried hard to adversely affect his meditation. No matter how hard they tried, Siddhartha was able to maintain equanimity in the face of such temptations.

The Maras left but would return periodically. Siddhartha, now Buddha, would calmly say, “I see you.”

Naming our acid or poison goes a long way toward defusing its effects upon us. He would then invite them for tea and sit treating the Maras as honored guests rather than someone to fight with.

I am reminded of a process I’ve facilitated many times through an international men’s group called The ManKind Project. In this process, we have someone walk along with someone walking immediately behind them representing their shadow, that part of them they hide, repress, and deny. The shadow mimics their every movement but, because the shadow is like the Maras, it trips up the lead person and they fall to the ground.

They pick themselves up again and start walking along until, again, their shadow trips them up. In the process as in life, it is only when we can stare right at the shadow and say, “I see you,” that we begin to defuse its power.

As you proceed on your “acid trip” what do you need to see clearly, what shadow do you need to bring into the light that has been corrosive to your success and ultimate happiness?

© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2015, 2020, 2021


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more thanCareer Angles | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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