How much is your work contribution truly valued in some companies? I can answer that with a quick visualization exercise. Imagine a bucket almost full of water. Then put your hand in that water. Finally, pull your hand out. The space left by your hand is the amount of value you are as a worker in many establishments.
It’s painful to think of your job or career like this. But in this day and age, I’ve found it to be the truth about 90% of the time (with the 10% being extremely small companies or startups that have so few employees that they may go under if they lose another). Sure, there are many corporations that will still treat you better than others. Perhaps they will have a better compensation or benefit package. Perhaps they have a proper hierarchical structure set up that allows your complaints and concerns to be heard and things to be actually done about them. Perhaps they have zero tolerance policies in place that make you feel very comfortable working there without worry about being bullied for being in a minority in some way. But even with the benefits and ethical treatment of employees, this is still the norm.
I saw this visualization posted in a coworker’s cube one day, many years ago. And it was painful to think about, at first. But then, I changed my perception around this visualization, and even though it’s still uncomfortable to think about, I think it has made me better able to handle the constantly occurring change in every aspect of my life.
And yes, I did say EVERY aspect of life.
This visualization is especially true in pagan communities that exist solely on social media platforms. Groups form, people join them, people leave them, groups change, and groups die. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change this cycle, and there is nothing that will make one person less expendable than another, no matter who you are, what you have studied or what you have claimed to have done. Some have a tendency to get tied up into the identity of a group so much that it becomes a piece of ‘who you are,’ much like a title of Priest or Priestess. The very nature of the change in these groups, however, makes this dangerous.
It’s even worse if you take the opinions of those in the group as downright fact. There are too many people in these types of situations who have extremely low self-worth, or no one to physically talk to about the subjects tossed around in the group. Those types hang on every word, hoping that they will get the reassurance that they need to feed their severely malnourished spirit that they indeed are making the decisions they are supposed to be. And they also beg for those reassurances that they are hearing and seeing the things they think they have. Sometimes things get so bad the group becomes an echo chamber for a specific set of criteria; you need to think like this, walk like this and do this, and then you will be doing things ‘right’. It doesn’t matter that the criteria are based on one opinion; if the group thinks it’s right, that is all it will be.
What is even more painful is the realization that even in local organizations the bucket visualization is also true. The organization doesn’t have to be religious, either. While face-to-face community organizations don’t have as many dangers as the social media groups, they still have the same aspects when it comes to group participation. It doesn’t matter how much you contribute, volunteer or are simply present, there will always be someone else ready to pick up the slack and fill in that hole left by your hand in the water. The sooner peace is made with that and you grieve what is lost, the sooner you can move on.
The bucket visualization is also very true when it comes to personal religious practices. Now, realize I work with two very distinct deities. One has aspects of a change-bringing-trickster, the other has aspects of a wanderer seeking knowledge, and was willing to give up his own eye to get it. Not everyone is going to be in the same boat of personal change that I am. But many that work with the blood brothers will have upheaval to deal with sooner or later. And right now, it’s my turn to do just that.
The thing about change is that it is inevitable. Nothing stays the same; not your relationships, not the titles you are given or give yourself, not your place of employment, not your practice, not your home…nothing. But recognizing that truth and keeping it as a mindset to be prepared for, especially in spiritual work, allows us the freedom of being able to see more clearly the real things that we need to carry with us, and see those that are weighing us down. You learn to only take what you need with you and are more able to release the rest back to that where it came from. Because ultimately, the excess baggage that you are carrying isn’t going to be of any service at your next destination.