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Societal Dropout

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Societal Dropout
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6/20/11 9:32 AM
I'm currently going through hard times, in that I'm being bullied by an idiot professor. For the moment, if I want to preserve a future in grad school which is just around the corner, I have to bend the knee and suck it up. If I get screwed over for this last class though, I'm seriously wanting to ragequit and just drop right the hell out of society. Ideas on how to actually do that and survive?

RE: Societal Dropout
Answer
6/20/11 9:57 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike, I am a professor, not the idiot kind, I hope, but I have lots of students come to me with similar problems. Some professors make a practice of selecting one or two students per class as a target of their own self-loathing, whereas others get into a pattern of working to humiliate students in especially subtle ways in order to bond the students to them more closely; these students take courses with them semester after semester, hoping to win the prof's approval. Of course it never works.

Whichever is the case with you, I would ask you to keep focused on yourself and your goals, and not let one toxic individual determine for you how you are going to proceed. If the exposure is for a limited time, then keep those limits in front of you. Once when I was mad at a colleague, a friend reminded me, he is not your father, your brother, your husband, or your lover. You get to go home and leave him every day. Of course if the relationship is ongoing (a thesis adviser, for example), then for your own protection you should figure out how to extricate yourself with minimal damage to your future. In either case, however, note in meditation the precise bodily sensations that are linked to your thoughts of this person, note the compulsive thoughts that recycle endlessly through your mind about him, and note yourself thinking about the situation. If you get drawn in, note yourself getting drawn in.

Let me tell you that I know from long and bitter experience just how hard this is. I wish I'd had these methods available to me years ago, but that is neither here nor there. What is relevant is the fact that you need to let this person have whatever pathology he has, and work at maintaining insight into your own responses, physical, emotional, and cognitive. The temptation is to get stuck in an internal dialogue in which you set him straight over and over again, justifying yourself and expressing your anger. As that dialogue inevitably comes up, note it, note it, note it, note where the anger fastens itself in your body, note all of it.

As for bending the knee: think about it as a savvy way of taking care of yourself. You don't need to go out of your way to be obsequious, but you should figure out how to strike a balance (the middle way) between maintaining your self-respect and doing what's necessary to survive. It may be that a skillful confrontation will work; you could begin by asking him what you can do to have a better relationship. (of course I'm assuming it's a "he"--please forgive me; I know it could as easily be a "she"). If you drop out of society, you will still find people and situations everywhere that create pain and humiliation for you. Look on this as an opportunity to get some good practice. Best of luck.

RE: Societal Dropout
Answer
6/20/11 10:40 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
One other point: I find when I'm obsessing over an unpleasant situation that it isn't a good idea to work on it for long periods of time--a person needs to detach from it as well. When I was going through some serious family stuff a couple of years ago I watched reruns of "The Office" on Netflix. Not only did it get my mind off things, but it made me laugh so hard I cried, a tremendous discharge of energy. I suppose I should have tried exercise instead, but I'd tend to ruminate while walking/running/whatever.

You've had a lot of unpleasantness over the past few months, so do what you can to be good to yourself.

RE: Societal Dropout
Answer
6/20/11 10:47 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
Mike, I am a professor, not the idiot kind, I hope, but I have lots of students come to me with similar problems. Some professors make a practice of selecting one or two students per class as a target of their own self-loathing, whereas others get into a pattern of working to humiliate students in especially subtle ways in order to bond the students to them more closely; these students take courses with them semester after semester, hoping to win the prof's approval. Of course it never works.

Whichever is the case with you, I would ask you to keep focused on yourself and your goals, and not let one toxic individual determine for you how you are going to proceed. If the exposure is for a limited time, then keep those limits in front of you.... In either case, however, note in meditation the precise bodily sensations that are linked to your thoughts of this person, note the compulsive thoughts that recycle endlessly through your mind about him, and note yourself thinking about the situation. If you get drawn in, note yourself getting drawn in.

Let me tell you that I know from long and bitter experience just how hard this is. I wish I'd had these methods available to me years ago, but that is neither here nor there. What is relevant is the fact that you need to let this person have whatever pathology he has, and work at maintaining insight into your own responses, physical, emotional, and cognitive. The temptation is to get stuck in an internal dialogue in which you set him straight over and over again, justifying yourself and expressing your anger. As that dialogue inevitably comes up, note it, note it, note it, note where the anger fastens itself in your body, note all of it.

As for bending the knee: think about it as a savvy way of taking care of yourself. You don't need to go out of your way to be obsequious, but you should figure out how to strike a balance (the middle way) between maintaining your self-respect and doing what's necessary to survive.... If you drop out of society, you will still find people and situations everywhere that create pain and humiliation for you. Look on this as an opportunity to get some good practice. Best of luck.

Good post! Very GOOD advice. You should be thankful that she took the time to explain all this.

RE: Societal Dropout
Answer
6/20/11 4:04 PM as a reply to Ian And.
And I am thankful, though I neglected to say so explicitly. Thank you.

You are right, about there being situations and people everywhere that cause some kind of discontent. It's very true but has to be seen and proven for oneself again and again and again I've found; you can't just have someone tell you. That's why I went to Europe, because I had to see for myself how it was, and now I came back full circle.

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