The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.
This quote often gets attributed to Captain Jack Sparrows from the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, after digging through a ton of Youtube videos, it became clear that our Captain said no such thing.
But it’s still a great quote, and after getting over a nasty problem myself, I’d like to share some insights with you.
Maybe this can help with your crappy situation.
What do you mean, my attitude is the problem?
No, this is not about blaming anyone.
We mostly get problems we neither asked for nor deserve.
But if you don’t deal with them… when you get stuck in how unfair it all is – it only gets worse.
People have different reactions to the same situation.
Depending on your experiences and the stories you tell yourself, one single word can trigger certain emotions.
As can behaviors of other people.
“He said I look tired — what a jerk”.
“She teased me about my motivation — she must think I’m such a loser”.
The problem often isn’t the situation itself.
It’s how you interpret it.
Let’s examine a problem i had
The whole backstory would be boring, complicated, and negative.
Let’s just say that I got a new boss one day, and he was not qualified.
Not only was he not a marketer, but he was also an incredibly bad (micro)manager. He was mean, inefficient, and made our jobs extremely complicated.
But he had been with the company for over 30 years and was “protected” by the owners.
After a while, it got so unbearable that I knew I had to resign.
There was no help coming from anyone and no talking sense into anybody.
It was all in vain
It was obvious that no one had my back. No one wanted to stick their neck out.
Several people independently told me that my boss was protected whenever I mentioned that the situation was breaking me.
Some even tried gaslighting me into thinking that I was a terrible person.
I knew I couldn’t continue working like this. Still, I went through all sorts of emotions.
And utter disbelief.
For quite a while I felt sorry for myself…
Of course, I didn’t deserve this. I am great at my job, and I’m 100% invested.
I also felt a ton of guilt
I felt guilty because I was so miserable, and had no other solution than to resign.
If I wasn’t a kind and loyal person, I wouldn’t have had any of these problems.
I would have just quit at the first sign of trouble.
But knowing that I had to resign made me feel physically bad.
For weeks, I couldn’t sleep, I was stressed out and constantly had a pit in my stomach.
I even worried that I’d end up with an ulcer…
I struggled with choosing between my own sanity and not wanting to leave people hanging.
At first, I pitied myself. I didn’t deserve that no one cared.
Then I felt guilty because I knew I had to put myself first. And that meant leaving my colleagues.
This inner struggle lasted 2 months.
During all this time, I continued going to work, feeling awful throughout.
On a few occasions, the company showed me again that they didn’t care until I finally resigned.
The reaction I got was yet another sign that I had stayed in the wrong place.
“We were wondering how long it would take for you to resign. You were clearly miserable these last few months”…
Loyalty has an expiration date, even if this is hard to accept.
Not everyone deserves your loyalty, especially if they don’t care about you.
I shouldn’t have worried so much about letting people down. All this self-inflicted stress was for nothing.
The people who could have had my back only saw me as a problem.
Since my boss was protected, no one wanted to stick their neck out for me.
I was thrown under the bus so they could pretend that everything is fine.
By the way, I was the 3rd person in my department to resign within 3 months but, hey.
We were all “difficult” people…
How I turned it around
Just above I said my company threw me under the bus. And I don’t say it in a hurt or self-pity kind of way.
Now, I no longer care. And I mean it.
It all changed when I started to see my new boss as a gift.
Like a magnifying glass of all that is wrong with the company culture.
A lot is wrong and has been for years.
They discriminate and they don’t empower their employees. Their objective is to keep you small.
Maybe you’re wondering why I stayed so long if it is so bad. Again, part of it was loyalty, but I also had many great colleagues.
It’s only a handful of people who poison the company culture.
Unfortunately, they are the decision-makers.
A few days ago, I went to a talk by a manager at Google about “10 behaviors for more influence” in your job.
Like speaking up in meetings, holding your ground, inviting yourself to meetings…
I had counterexamples for every single one of them. Yes, my former company sucks.
If you read this far
All the negative talk above feels weird to me now.
But it’s important that you can see for yourself that this is not just a standard “get over it”.
That’s not helpful. It’s not just all rainbows and sunshine.
But I truly got over the whole story.
Even before my last day.
It’s helpful for you to see both sides of the coin.
Same situation, different story.
A victim mentality only hurts you.
It’s important to empower yourself and ditch the crappy stories.
- this is so unfair
- I don’t deserve this
- why is this happening to me?
It’s not okay to treat people like their feelings and qualifications don’t matter.
It’s not okay to bully and gaslight.
That’s why the company’s and my values didn’t align.
So I chose to no longer accept that. That’s all.
Your story is Your choice
I resigned because the company is not up to my standards.
That’s the truth.
My website says “be inspired and inspiring” for a reason. I want a positive environment where people care about each other.
So if you are currently struggling, you don’t have to figure it all out.
Don’t think too far ahead. You might get overwhelmed if the solution is scary.
Like quitting your job before you found another one.
But if you’re suffering because of what is happening right now, you need to take care of that.
Your attitude about the problem – and the story you tell yourself – changes everything.
I’m excited about the future.
My company wasn’t up to my standards, so I resigned.
And that’s the only story that matters.
So I wanted to offer you a new perspective on your crappy situation.
I hope it helps others who feel like their situation is hopeless.
Lots of love,
Improve yourself. Improve your life!
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