I work for a large health care organization.
In this environment, it can be hard to project a voice that is routinely heard within changing company culture.
In response to this, my supervisors often leave their doors open and encourage us to talk with them during their downtime through an “open-door policy.”
Such a space allows for an informal dialogue to take place, which may invite change. This can be a policy that creates openness and collaboration, rather than putting up walls between people that are in higher-up positions and those “at the front line.”
While reflecting on this open flow of communication at work, I am reminded of a poem by Rumi entitled, “The Guest House.”
In this poem, Rumi compares our mind to a guest house. He talks about new people coming to our house every day, openly comparing them to emotions like “a joy, a depression, a meanness.” Even if these hostile guests abruptly come into our house and tear all of our furniture apart, the speaker still invites us to respect them like a gracious host would.
This can be hard, especially when it could be a deep sadness from a recent breakup, or anger from not getting the promotion at work that you wanted. The speaker still implores us to “be grateful for whoever comes” as these emotions might serve as guides “from beyond.”
There is certainly a call to put these emotions in an appropriate spotlight, as they might be communicating something far deeper and more divine than we expect. Emotions tell us something that we need to bear witness to and really feel into.
In American society, we are often taught to “man up” and put on a strong face for others when we are going through something difficult. This can create a war inside of our head, as we are taught to hide our emotions behind a mask, preventing us from showing others what we are really going through.
When we close this door, it can be harder for others to step in and help when we need it the most. Wearing this mask seemingly protects us, but it actually starves us from connecting with others in an authentic way.
Perhaps shutting the door to these valuable emotions that are trying to tell us something is like being a supervisor that rejects a precious insight that another employee might be trying to tell us.
Closing our ears and pretending that we are not listening may leave us deaf to an emotion that might inspire us to make a change in our lives. Or, maybe it’s about just being with that feeling and allowing it to guide us to where we are supposed to be.
In response to this, I think an open-door policy for emotions can allow for more transparency with others, especially when going through challenging times. This can help us get the right support—even when it means just having a loved one listen to us vent.
Author: Abraham Kou
Image: Elephant Journal Archives
Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron