Posted by fxckfeelings on June 20, 2013
In a just world, correcting injustice would have no unintended consequences, good people would always know how to do the right thing, and I’d be so hard up for patients that I’d have to become a podiatrist. Unfortunately, in this world, there are Assholes™, and the fight for justice isn’t just riddled with them, but may force you to align with one or be mistaken for one in the process. Don’t let them and your passion for justice distract you from checking out the moral pros and cons of what happens next. In seeking justice, you should ideally experience the joy of straightening out the world. More often, you will bear the pain of tolerating unjust crap for the sake of good values, the knowledge that you’re preventing things from getting worse, and that, in doing so, you’ve confirmed your non-Asshole™ status.
Our church administrator made some dumb decisions that wasted money and favored her friends, and the church would be better off if she were eased out of her job, but there’s one member of our church who is so obnoxious and unreasonable in the way he attacks her mistakes that I don’t want to have anything to do with him. He has brought a lawsuit against the church that could hurt all of us and sees any offer of compromise as an effort to deceive him. I think he’s paranoid, but meanwhile I’m paralyzed because, even if I agree with his basic point, I don’t know how to move ahead without encouraging him and joining with a person I despise. My goal is save our church from bad management without having to encourage, or be seen as encouraging, an obnoxious, crazy jerk.
The enemy of your enemy may be your friend, but the enemy of the entire world is still a toxic Asshole™ you natural want to avoid at all costs, even if you share a common goal.
Since your goal seems unselfish and idealistic, it’s especially painful to have it hijacked by the one person who can drive everyone else away. The more personal his attacks, the more support he’ll create for the administrator who needs to be fired. Even if you’re on the right side of things, the Asshole™ being on that side makes it wrong.
Ignoring how annoyed you are with both the Asshole™ and the accused administrator, add up the benefits and risks of firing her. Unless her actions make it unavoidable, you don’t want to stir up a fight in the congregation. Some people might say that church should be a place of greater purity and moral rectitude and its employees held to a higher standard, but that notion starts religious wars (and contradicts the actions of the Vatican). Yes, there are some crimes that are intolerable, but in most cases you’re more interested in pursuing acceptance and mutual respect, even if that means accepting some impropriety and administrative inefficiency.
If you decide that action is necessary, remember that backroom politics were invented to help people get things done when a horribly obnoxious loudmouth makes it impossible to have a meaningful public discussion. We now understand that many such people can’t help themselves; they have strong opinions about how other people should behave and no awareness of their motivations or reactions, particularly to their own demeaning statements.
You may have to put lots of work into circulating your opinion outside a general meeting, gathering a majority, and agreeing on a course of action, but it beats the alternative. Consider it to be both a test of your resolve and an Asshole™ shield. Having avoided taking part in a public, personal attack, do what you can to cushion the blow of her firing and avoid humiliating her or her supporters by paying respect to her contributions and showing no personal dislike, regardless of your deeper feelings.
Unlike your would-be ally, you aren’t trying to root out evil and punish corruption, just to clean up an unfortunate mess while showing respect for those who disagree with you and preserving a community of relationships that are more important than any one political issue.
With some careful maneuvering, you can be on the same side of the Asshole™ without getting shit on in the process.
“I’m annoyed by the mistakes of my church administrator and infuriated by the tone of the attacks that have been made on her. I will do nothing about this problem, however, unless I think it’s necessary, and then do all I can, behind the scenes, to avoid public humiliation and build a consensus that does not insult those who disagree with it.”
I know I did the right thing when I filed a job discrimination suit against my boss, who’s notorious for making sexist put-downs and treating women as if we’re sluts and objects, but since I did it, everyone at work has become strangely silent. I know other women there who share my disgust for him, but management has been ordered by company lawyers to treat me very, very carefully and no one at work wants to be seen as siding with me or they’ll become pariahs too. Everyone is nice but distant and their polite distance is making me feel totally isolated. I can’t quit without jeopardizing my suit, but staying has got me really depressed. My goal is to stand up against something I know is wrong without driving myself crazy.
I hope your lawyer warned you that, though your anti-discrimination lawsuit might eventually bring you a dose of deserved justice, it would almost certainly first bring you an added dollop of unjust pain. That’s the way things work when you’re not on TV and don’t get instant access to justice, or even Judge Judy.
The better your case, the quicker the company lawyers will order your bosses to clean up their act and create tons of written evidence showing that they’re polite, professional, and caring while they watch for a legitimate reason to put you on probation and, after sincere attempts to improve your performance, regretfully terminate your ass. That’s standard operating procedures and it sucks for everyone, particularly you.
If your job was becoming unbearable, your suit may nevertheless be worth it. Feeling angry and humiliated may not, on its own, be worth suing for, but a suit may well be worthwhile if you can’t stand working there anymore, know you have a good case, and are ready to leave. Even then, once you sue you many need to persuade future employers that you don’t have a chip on your shoulder about administration. If your boss is a true pig, however, then it’s probably less of a chip and more of a cross that you’d bear with pride.
Now that the lawsuit is underway, the important thing to remind yourself is that nothing about work relationships is personal, even though it feels that way, and that you need as much support as possible outside of work because personal relationships at work will be a desert.
Also, you need an exit strategy; lawsuits destroy relationships and make it almost impossible to work together, so don’t force yourself to stay at work to prove to colleagues that you’re right and that they can’t get to you. Work is about making a living without going crazy, not making a point about pride.
So collect your strength, write off your old job, and focus on your next move. As long as you’re there, do a decent day’s work so that you’ll know you don’t deserve the criticism you will probably get, but don’t let making a decent effort get in the way of your job search.
Unjust criticism shouldn’t change your opinion about the value of your work, your lack of respect for your boss, or your determination to look for something better. It should instead strengthen your resolve until justice, or better, Judge Judy, finally arrives.
“The first victim of my lawsuit, in terms of feeling punished, is me, but I expected that to happen. I won’t let shunning or unjust criticism change my values, my willingness to work hard, or my effort to find a square deal at my next place of employment.”
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 17, 2013
Most people have that one whiny friend or family member who constantly traps them in the same, stupid, draining conversation, but there are different kinds of bait that keep us coming back. Some complainants keep you trapped with compliments, others take an opposing tact with criticism, but either way, the result is a guilty, captive audience. In any case, don’t let yourself get trapped by feeling responsible for providing support and advice, especially when you know it isn’t doing any good. Drop their troubles from your list of acceptable topics and prepare to spend your time doing other things until they’re ready to accept your terms for having a good conversation, like talking to anyone else.
I’m a reasonably attractive guy with a good job and maybe I work too hard, but I always find time for my friends and family. I haven’t had luck finding a good woman, so I’ve been particularly available to my brother, who always needs extra help. I love him dearly, but he’s a fuck-up who drinks too much and always finds a way to get himself into trouble. He’s got a couple great sons, but he married a crazy monster, and now that they’re divorcing he’s given her great ammunition to keep the kids from seeing him, or me, by not showing up for visitation or keeping up with child support. My brother tells me I’m the only person he can trust and talk to since our parents died and he doesn’t know what he’d do without me, but I dread our conversations because he does nothing but complain about how awful things are, never takes responsibilities for changing them, and never listens to advice. Meanwhile, I feel my life is empty, I’ll never see my nephews again, and I’ll never have a family of my own. I can’t seem to get out of a horrible rut.
While you might feel like your life is empty, it’s actually quite full; like it or not, you have a special someone in your life, he just happens to be your brother. And he’s not leaving a hell of a lot of room in your life for anyone else.
Of course, it seems important to help your orphaned brother and accept a responsibility that expands the more trouble he gets himself into. What you haven’t done, however, is stop to ask yourself what supporting him is doing to the rest of your social life and whether it’s really doing him any good at all. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 13, 2013
Parents can be responsible for making sure their kids are clothed, bathed, and fed, and even the bathing part is a stretch if your kid is a teenaged boy. After that, almost everything is out of a parent’s hands, especially behavior. Under normal circumstances, there’s lots you can do to help a kid control his bad behavior, assuming you stay positive, provide him with effective limits, and encourage him to endure whatever internal demons and nasty frustrations are flipping him out. Under abnormal circumstances, however, you may well do everything, accomplish nothing, and find it’s better redirecting your energies to where they’ll do more good, even if it’s just making sure they have some soap.
My twelve-year-old daughter can be difficult with her father and she’s not always respectful to her teachers, but she’s basically a good kid and I can count on her to do her homework and be reasonably nice to her sibs. Lately, however, I’ve been getting more complaints than usual and I’ve noticed that she looks pretty irritable and unhappy most of the time. I don’t want to come down too hard on her, but I don’t want to ignore the fact that I’m responsible for how she behaves and she hasn’t been particularly nice to people. My goal is to figure out how to take her problem seriously without making her feel I’m too critical.
When you feel responsible for your child’s behavior—or your dog’s, or even just your own weight or success—then you feel obliged to get it under control. Unfortunately, responsibility and control do not go hand-in-hand; if your kid is spoiled, needs a talking-to, and has the ability to learn from it, then a conversation might work. Otherwise, think again, because you’re trying to control what even she cannot.
In this case, you’re suggesting that your daughter already knows what she should be doing but that something is bringing out the worst in her. A serious talk about her behavior may help her stop, but there’s a danger, particularly if you sound too angry or moralistic, of worsening her mood, provoking self-hate, and stimulating defiance or self-harm. You both want the same thing, but frustration will make it even more impossible. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 10, 2013
While many have argued that romantic feelings can alter a person’s ability to reason, they also seem alter one’s vision, either giving one the ability to see faults in their partner and relationship that aren’t visible to the ordinary naked eye, or blinding them to real details in a rose-colored cloud. The best way to correct this impaired vision isn’t with glasses, but by keeping your eyes shut for a bit and looking inward; all good partnerships require behavior that meets your idea of what the job requires. So instead of analyzing unhappy feelings or taking comfort in love, figure out what you want him or her to do, dig for facts, and make it clear what’s acceptable and what isn’t, according to your experiences. Then, regardless of whether you break your heart or just his, you’ll have what you need, and you’ll never have to wonder what you “saw in him,” or what to look for going forward.
I’ve been in a relationship for about five years now but I’ve gradually realized that my significant other derives his self-worth from a futile “Superman complex,” and he has admitted as much. That is, he feels his parents are stuck in an unhappy marriage, they express panic at the thought of him leaving home once a steady job comes along, and he has to make them happy. He takes the approach that he’s the mortar holding unhappy people together, whether they be relatives, friends, or coworkers. I’ve let him know my opinion, that he’s not helping them one whit, and that he may be keeping them from advancing in one direction or the other. Up goes the great “you’re wrong” wall of China. He hides low self-esteem behind a front of cockiness and runs like hell from any negative emotion (i.e., bottles it up and believes the pressure will never blow). I don’t understand how someone who doesn’t love himself can truly love anyone else, let alone me. I know I can’t force a change in him, but I still feel driven to reason with him since he professes to be a creature of logic. His intentions are ultimately good. Am I being completely dumb and trying to salvage a relationship that was built on unsteady ground to begin with?
Before you get too convinced that your boyfriend’s Superman issues are going to drive you apart, remember that Superman himself is rarely actually single. So, instead of assuming his parents are your relationship’s Kryptonite, ask yourself what you want from him and to what degree his unhappiness and over-involvement with his parents get in the way, if they do.
Lots of people can’t stop being unhappy because it’s not under their control, and expecting them to be happy leads to nothing but disappointment and a sense of failure. No matter how much you love someone, remember, you can’t make it work unless you also accept him, so if you need a happier guy, maybe you should look elsewhere. Superman or no, he’s powerless to his emotions. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 6, 2013
When it comes to drinking, or really any addiction, it’s hard to stop without a “good reason,” especially if you think there’s a better reason not to quit. Then there’s the expectation that, if you really need to stop, the good reason fairy will visit you in the middle of the night to let you know (usually while you’re sleeping in a stranger’s bed, in a dark alley, or a puddle of puke). In reality, it’s up to the drinker to decide if s/he has to stop, and rational thinking about drinking doesn’t require a degree in addictionology. All you need is discipline to gather facts, courage to look at them, and determination to use good reasoning to do what you think is best for yourself.
I’ve lived alone since my daughter left for college (my wife died years before) and I wonder if I’m drinking too much. I’m good enough at my job, but the head of our office doesn’t respect me and I wonder if I’ll have to move on. I’ve always had a tendency to get depressed and I see a therapist, but my antidepressant medication doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t sleep well. I’m not sure drinking is doing any harm and it certainly eases the pain, but I do get completely drunk every night, and it’s become the highlight of my day. I’ve got no friends currently, but I’ve never been a sociable guy so it doesn’t interfere with my social life, and since I’m alone, I get no complaints from friends or family. No harm done. I’m healthy and my hangover isn’t bad, so I wonder whether my drinking is worth worrying about, or whether I should just focus on getting help for my depression.
To paraphrase the old koan, if a person falls into excessive drinking without anyone around to become concerned, does it make that person a drunk? Nobody can ask the tree if it thinks it made a sound, but since you’re a person, you’re not just able, but the only one qualified, to answer the question.
You might be persuaded that you’re drinking too much if a therapist suggested you were using it to escape painful feelings, or if a spouse complained, but then later on you might decide that there’s nothing wrong with escaping when life sucks and your spouse has no right to complain because her nagging drives you to it. Outside opinion is as easy to ignore as the sound of one hand clapping. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 3, 2013
No one controls the nature of their sexual needs, including their strength, timing, and target, but we all have reason to control what we do with them. That’s why “I couldn’t help it” is never a convincing alibi, for either sexual indiscretion or disinterest, because even the most impulsive and passive people can manage their impulses with enough effort. Sooner or later, the difference between getting sexual satisfaction and being a good partner creates a conflict that tests your ability to remember and act on your values, regardless of where your needs want to take you. That’s when you need to find the strength to “help it,” whether it is your needs, your relationship, and/or yourself.
The last thing I want to do is hurt my wife, but I’ve always had a taste for sex with prostitutes, even though it costs more money than I can afford, and getting married two years ago didn’t made a difference to my bad habits. My wife works hard and we pool our incomes, so she hasn’t noticed that we have less money than might be expected from the salary I make. I hate myself when I do it, and I don’t much enjoy it, so I can’t figure out why I haven’t been able to stop. I guess I’m an impulsive person, because there are corners I cut at work that might get me fired and I haven’t been able to stop that either. I must have a deep desire to get myself into trouble. My goal is to figure out what’s wrong with me and be more normal.
The biggest reason not to waste your time trying to figure out why you can’t stop spending money you don’t have on prostitutes is that you’ve already got your answer; you’re an impulsive guy, always have been, even when it fucked up your self-interest and ran against your moral values. You’re like Columbo, knowing who the perp is all along (but that makes you the guilty party, as well).
Being called impulsive isn’t meant as criticism, just a description of a big problem that usually remains a mystery when anyone tries to explain it, or understand why one person has it and another doesn’t. The question isn’t why–the answer to that is the same as to the answer to “why are whores so pricey?,” because life’s unfair–but what to do about it. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 30, 2013
While we all work for a boss in one way or another, it’s safer to do so strictly for the paycheck, instead of the emotional reward of approval. Otherwise, caring too much about whether the boss appreciates your performance can ruin your job satisfaction, even when you know you’ve done it well, or spark you into self-destructive rebellion. So the best thing to do is not work too hard for the boss, the Man, or the Woman; it’s to become your own judge of what constitutes a good day’s work and a reasonable worker’s boss, judge yourself accordingly, and keep getting paid.
I loved my job at the nursing home for the first 20 years or so, and we were a great team, but the last ten years have been much harder, mainly because we had to move further away because of my wife’s work and I’ve had a tough 90 minute commute each way ever since. I worked extra hard, stayed late, and continued to do the job pretty well, but between being tired and older, I stopped enjoying it and I think my boss was less happy with me. I needed the work, however, so I soldiered along and never got a bad performance review, though it was hard feeling my boss and I were no longer as friendly as we used to be. Six months ago I decided it was time to retire—the kids have graduated college and the pension isn’t bad—so I announced it to my boss, and since then it’s gotten more painful. He didn’t hide his relief and immediately hired my replacement, whom I’m supposed to train. My goal is to get over feeling like I’ve failed at the job that I gave most of my life to, since they’re really glad to see me go.
No one who labors for ten years at a job requiring a three-hour daily commute in order to support his family and secure a pension should ever consider himself a failure, let alone give a shit what anyone else thinks, especially on your way out.
If your boss is eager to see you go, then that’s his problem; you gave him many years of good work and dedicated service, and countless hours suffering through gridlock and morning zoo radio shows. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 27, 2013
It’s a long weekend in the US for Memorial Day, so as you fight battles with your family over old grudges or just the last hotdog, remember those who lost their lives in real battles (and also to write us, because even if the battles with your sister-in-law never result in fatalities, she’s still really annoying).
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 23, 2013
As we often say, approaching dating as a “search for love” is like trying to keep people safe by starting a “war on terror;” since you can’t date love and you can’t kill hate, your quest is likely to be frustrating. Sometimes people doing a mate-search have a good idea about what to look for but don’t have the good work habits they need for the job. Others with fine work habits get staggered when the carefully chosen prince or princess they kiss turns out to be a frog. Remember, unless you’re very lucky, any search requires both a disciplined method and an acceptance of the fact that good matches are hard to find. The less romantic you are in your methods, the more romantic you can let yourself feel later on, but at the outset, figure out exactly who, not what, you’re looking for, in order to have good—or any—results.
I’ve struggled with depression several times in the past (that I’ve gotten out of through exercise, counseling and little cognitive therapy workbooks), so sad feelings are hardly new to me. But the sudden way they come about lately has me really freaked out. I actually like my job. If I let my work pay for more schooling, and I stick with it, I could make a really good life for myself. These mood swings seem to mostly exaggerate sad feelings I already have about not getting any and might be related to PMS, although I’ve never had period-related mood swings like this before in my life. Despite being an attractive, young girl that likes to go out and be social, I’ve never had a long-term boyfriend. I’m so frustrated that I can’t find a guy that I’m both attracted to and think is a good person, and that likes me back. (Habits like spending money on expensive clothes instead of student loans, and drinking lots on the weekends don’t help.) I eventually want babies (I think I would be a great mom), a partner, a garden, and to be a good person so my goal is to somehow control these mood swings, and maybe take online dating a little more seriously. I just want your opinion first.
From what you’ve said, my opinion isn’t far from your own; your values and goals are good, but your habits and mood swings aren’t. You’ve found a job you care about and want to get better at, but between dips of depression, drinking, and being distracted by the wrong guys, you’re stuck.
It’s not unusual for depression to push people into bad habits, like drinking and other feel-better-now-sorry-later activities, just in case the disease alone isn’t doing enough to make you feel like a pathetic loser who can’t get work done or have normal social relationships.
As you’re well aware, it takes time, lots of practice, and even worksheets to keep your perspective and hold your ground against an invasion of negative depressive thoughts. If you want my opinion on that specifically, I think it sucks, but there’s no way around it, and drinking only makes them worse. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 20, 2013
It’s appropriate that singer Mary J. Blige had a hit singing, “I just wanna be happy” since her best songs were about being miserable. Everybody thinks they want happiness, but like wealth, fame, and everything else on Blige’s own episode of Behind the Music, happiness is too erratic and temporary to set your hopes on, and concerning oneself too much with it is a good way to get a headache and feel like a loser. Instead, think hard about the values that give you direction, whether you’re happy or not. If they’re good values, they’ll always take you in the right direction and will give you strength, regardless of whether you have another hit.
I fell in love with the wonderful work I was doing in South Africa, but in the two years since I returned to the States, I still struggle with connecting and finding friendships or a relationship with meaning. In South Africa, I worked with an organization that rehabilitated inner-city gang kids to get them back in the public school system. The experience was life changing. I fell in love with the children I worked with, the mentality of the locals, the culture, and the relationships I built with like-minded volunteers. Unfortunately, since I’ve been back, my connections with my friends were no longer the same because they could not relate to the life and experiences I lived abroad. I’m in my mid-20s, and my life is good in many ways, but most of my friends are getting married, having children, or going to graduate school now, and I am at a stand still…stuck in time with memories I wish I was still living. I want to be able to relate and understand the people in my life. I want to feel fulfilled and in love with my surrounding and the life I’m living again.
The trouble with wonderful, life-transforming jobs is that they don’t actually transform your life, just your expectations. The stars align for a brief period of self-discovery and fulfillment, but then the earth keeps rotating, and the stars shift away again.
Even though good times like that inherently can’t last, they still leave you feeling that, if you were able to find it once, you should be able to find it again. Unfortunately, good luck, like bad luck and the earth on its axis, moves on, whether you like it or not, sometimes leaving you not just with a sense of loss, but also of having missed the boat. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »