Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: What’s to be done with people who are ultra-critical? We have a woman in our office who finds fault with anything and everything and writes lengthy emails to our group. As a group, we function well and the work we’re assigned gets done; however, we’re weary of her nit-picking.

Is there a kind way to tell her to stop? One person who was criticized by the woman got into a verbal altercation with her but that didn’t stop the fault-finding and lengthy emails that no one reads anymore. Please help us find a solution. We really don’t want to go to the boss about this situation because he likes her and we’re concerned she’ll just get more vicious.

~ Weary Co-workers



Dear Weary Co-workers,

People! Aren’t they the worst? I’m sorry you have had to endure this. Let’s suppose that you see no end in sight, that this woman shows no sign of letting up. The bitter truth is some people are just bitter. If there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, there are some actions you could take; you do have some options. Some of them are not very good. But you do have some options. Here is a list of 10 things you could do:

1. Do nothing and hope she changes. 2. Do nothing except pray for and about her and hope she changes. 3. Since you’re the one who wrote in about the problem, you could be the one to address the situation. Stick up for your co-workers. It sounds like they need a champion. You could write long critical emails back. You know – give her a taste of her own medicine. Why hold back? Maybe she’ll reflect and change her behavior. 4. If you would rather not be the one facing her wrath alone, organize everyone else in the group to send her long critical emails back. Why hold back? Maybe she’ll think twice before she wades in next time, ruining the peace of the office. 5. Decide you’ve had enough and quit without saying a word. Life is too short to put up with that much aggravation at work. Get a new job where she isn’t. 6. Decide you’ve had enough and quit. But before leaving tell your boss the truth and that you just can’t take it anymore. 7. Organize the whole office to quit without saying a word. 8. Organize the whole office to meet with the boss and threaten to quit if he doesn’t get rid of her. 9. Have the group scour the employment sites for nearby comparable job opportunities and share them with her. Tell her that surely she’d be happier in an office without so many knuckleheads. You could show her this article. 10. Be brave and share the situation with your boss. This is why he gets paid more than you. He is supposed to handle situations like this.

Maybe she will become more vicious. That’s the boss’s problem too. Warn him of this possibility and have email evidence with you when you go to his office. Be prepared to have him address the situation poorly. He likes her for a reason.

May peace ensue!

Rev. Jon Karn





Dear Weary Co-Workers,

It can be tough working with people who upset the applecart with their negativity. It tends to affect the overall well-being of the group, which sounds like the case in your office. There are several ways you can handle this situation.

First, it’s important to remember that the way she says things has nothing to do with you and your co-workers and everything to do with this woman. Note I did not say what she has to say but the way she says it.

Our attitude in life sets the tone for the way we see the world. We bring that mindset with us into every situation. There is something she carries in her heart that causes her to create discord instead of harmony in the office. Sometimes people create an atmosphere that makes people want to avoid them, which then validates their own sense of unworthiness as if to say, “See, no one wants to be around me” forgetting they created the problem to begin with.

Second, you can deflect the criticism by not allowing her to annoy you. Don’t forget that you are at choice – you don’t have to be bullied or controlled by her behavior. There is a parable about an interaction the Buddha had with an angry man that, loosely translated, states if a person becomes angry with you and you don’t feel insulted or accept the anger, it will fall back on the sender because it was theirs initially. You can make a decision not to surrender your personal power and happiness to the negativity. By observing her behavior with disinterest and thereby separating yourself from the toxicity, you can more easily bless her and continue being your good self. My friend likens it to someone pushing a rope – there is no longer a tug of war and then she will back away or try to find someone else to pester.

Third, listen to what she has to say as opposed to how she says it. Maybe some of her points are valid. Check in with yourself to see if what she observes could be an opportunity for you to fine tune your work and grow. If so, then thank her for the insight and help.

Lastly, be kind! Don’t let someone else’s toxicity rob you of your goodness by dragging you into the doldrums. Keep your thoughts on the higher plane. Silently send her thoughts of love and kindness with a prayer that she becomes aware of her own spiritual magnificence. There is power in prayer! There is power in invoking the goodness, love and light of Spirit – even if the intended receiver is unaware. Back those prayers with positive feedback when she does something nice. It will encourage better behavior and may create just the shift in attitude you are looking to create.

In Light,

Rev. Mary Morgan




QUESTION: Even though it’s not vacation time yet, our family of four is beginning to make plans. Our teens are 14, a girl, and 17, a boy. For whatever reason, we can’t agree on a destination. My husband and I would like to take a two-week road trip, stopping at areas we’ve not seen before. The kids want to stay in town and visit local attractions. I have to admit, although we live close to theme parks, we haven’t visited any of them for years. This may sound simple to resolve, as in taking a one-week road trip and staying in town the other week, but the kids are against a road trip. We’re out of ways to get to a family agreement. Their dad wants to “put his foot down” and say, “This is the way it’s going to be” and I don’t agree with that tactic. Any suggestions?

~ Tapped Out Mom



Dear Tapped Out Mom,

I had to smile reading your question. Parents and children can have such different ideas about what constitutes a good adventure. Sometimes parents need to get out of town for an adventure and a refreshing change from the daily routine of life. For teenagers, an adventure can be anything … as long as it doesn’t involve being with your parents for a long stretch of time. On a practical level, there are any number of books and articles you can find for reaching family compromise and agreements. And there are any number of family counselors who offer to help you do the same. Ultimately, and short of the dreaded solution that “Dad says this is the way it is going to be,” compromise and agreement (born through dialog) will eventually provide the best solution.

But on that point, you seem to see a deadlock and stalemate.
That’s where a little “spiritual” assist can help win the day. Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind, once pointed out that we live in a spiritual world. So what does that mean? The outer material world is nothing but an expression of the inner spiritual world we are all tapped into and a part of. To change anything for the better on the outer, we need only to change it in the inner. That is, we can change what is outside of us in the material world by changing what is inside of us in the mental world (aka spiritual world). You can change situations, resolve conflicts, and even people’s reactions, just by sitting quietly and doing nothing. The necessary and desired change occurs in your head – in your mind – and specifically in your thinking. Whatever you choose, inwardly see and believe in your mind will eventually reflect or manifest in the outer world as fact. You do not need any consent or cooperation from any outside party to effect this positive change. It is all done within yourself.

So the question is “Well … how do you do that?” There are a number of ways. But we will focus on what we call affirmative prayer. Affirmative prayer is not the begging, pleading, bargaining prayer we often think prayer is or should be. Affirmative prayer is a commanding prayer where you tell the Universe what you need, and the Universe both listens and responds. It always works. It is both declarative and knowing. It is not dependent upon, nor is it limited to or by, what you are currently experiencing in the outside world. Its truth is dependent only upon what you are willing to believe and declare as true. In your case, we are going to use affirmative prayer to break through the limits of this stalemate and manifest an agreement that will work for all parties and which all parties will find satisfactory and acceptable.

I would encourage you to keep a copy or commit this prayer to memory, and to repeat it often especially when you feel challenged over this issue. Keep repeating it until it “feels” right and true. You will eventually find the situation you thought and felt was blocked has resolved itself perfectly. Here is your prayer:
“I give thanks for my wonderful, mutual caring, loving and supportive family. I know that we can work through anything in perfect harmony and cooperation, with peace of mind for all, to realize and manifest the perfect solution to any problem we face; and do so in a manner that respects, acknowledges and addresses the needs and rights of all. And so it is! Amen.” Anthony Kelson, Religious Science Practitioner




Dear Tapped Out Mom,

It sounds like you are caught in the middle, as us mothers tend to be. This is a tricky one. I tend to not believe in “all or nothing” but compromise as one child approaches adulthood. If they were both under a certain age, you would most likely “tell” them what you all were doing for vacation. Parenting near-adults and teenagers is not for the faint of heart. You might have to step out of your normal way of viewing things as a parent on this one.

Here are the two ways I would most likely approach this. One, I would do a one week “staycation” where you give your children a good amount of say and choice on what they would like to do during that week. Allow them to “feel” they have input or decision-making power. I’d make this a teaching moment by explaining that life takes compromise to run smoothly as we grow older. Then tell them that while they have the majority say on the first week of vacation, you and dad want a road trip on the second week, explaining that this is how compromise works. Decide a couple of routes you and your husband most prefer and, again, allow them some input. They do not get to decide whether or not you go on the road trip, but state their preferences on which one sounds most interesting.

I am confident your children will enjoy aspects of the trip and have great memories.

The second option is you take a one-week staycation and the second week tell your kids what you and your husband want to do and they may join. If they don’t, find a place for them to stay and go somewhere you two have always wanted to go and have the time of your life with your husband, a win-win for the parents. Parents who continue to date and make new memories as lovers are better equipped for the day they have an empty nest.

The Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, LMFT