Posted by fxckfeelings on July 2, 2015Share This Post
People often try to drum up motivation in the disheartened by repeating the old saying about how even the longest journey begins with a single step. Remember, however, that, whatever your destination, you must also find the right way to get there; there are bad ways to do good things and vice versa, but if your goal or method is off, you’re going to end up stuck. In other words, don’t set out for righteousness in ill-fitting shoes or take a speed-hybrid on the road to ruin. Instead of assuming that the quality of your motivation determines the effectiveness of your methods, evaluate them on their own merit. That’s the true first step you have to take before the journey even begins.
I’m well established as a leader in my department with an impeccable sales record, so I was shook up when our VP suddenly told me he wanted to redistribute some of my accounts to a guy who’s junior to me, and then later promoted him over me to senior administration. While I’ve always gotten along well with my co-workers, I’ve also felt that I’ve been treated a little differently at work because I’m a woman (and one of few), but I’d never been able to put my finger on any specific discrimination until now. I met briefly with someone in HR to ask about this guy’s promotion over me, and he immediately got defensive and accused me of being difficult. Realizing that even approaching the subject of possible sexism would probably make things worse, I instead put together a detailed report for the VP on how taking me away from my regular accounts may decrease sales, but that did nothing but reinforce my “difficult” reputation. I’m clearly being discriminated against, but I’m more helpless and angrier than ever. My simple goal is to be treated fairly.
Getting fair treatment is always a dangerous goal, particularly when you have very good reason to believe you’ve been treated unfairly; even in battles over basic rights, victories are rare, hard-won and sometimes require involvement by the Supreme Court.
No matter how black and white your dispute may seem, you still have little control over how others treat and react to you; most administrators regard accusations of unfairness as a personal insult and potential legal attack. Sometimes, love wins, but more often, fear does.
If you tell them you think they’re part of a problem, they’ll think you’re the problem, period; not only won’t you change their minds or their behavior, but you will have to change jobs. That’s why, as hard as it is to tolerate unfair treatment, it’s usually harder not to. That’s why we regard “fair” as one of the truly dangerous f-words.
Sure, if your boss is stupid and writes nasty emails full of sexist jokes, he may violate employment laws and give you the legal leverage to sue. If you think you have evidence of any kind, read up on the law and see if you have a case. Know, however, that once you file a legal grievance, you will find yourself enveloped in a polite silence at work and your future there will be over. It’s up to you to weigh the strength of your evidence against the suckiness of losing your job and damaging your reputation.
Remember, being treated unfairly by your boss is not the same as being treated unfairly by your parents; when you’re a child, you can’t escape your parents or overrule their decisions, but as an adult, you move in a worker’s marketplace. Hopefully, you’ll find your experience, sales records, and good customer relationships will translate into possible jobs elsewhere. Perhaps you can then use your new position and level of success as a platform to support and mentor other women, making sure that they never have to deal with the same treatment that you did.
For now, spell out your value to your superiors and what you need in order to enhance that value and do a good job. Find good things to say about management and what you’ve learned from your boss while expressing reluctance to pursue interesting offers from other companies…and then do just that when you find what you want.
Unfair treatment can leave you feeling humiliated and helpless, but, like your accusations, their treatment isn’t personal; even if they recognize their prejudice, it’s against an entire gender that you just happen to be a part of. Don’t let those feelings undermine your motivation to do your work and deal effectively and professionally with people you have good reason not to like or trust.
Love and fairness may win eventually, even if you have your job in the meantime. Until then, find a new job and live to fight/work another day.
“I will never trust my boss again, but I have confidence in my ability to do my job and, eventually, to market myself elsewhere. I will keep things positive and advance my marketability until I can find better people to work for. Meanwhile, I’m making a living and it’s only fucking work. I’ll do the right thing, even if they won’t.”
I’ve had several sober periods since I realized I was an alcoholic ten years ago—some much longer than others—but since I fell off the wagon a month ago I’ve been drinking a lot and acting irresponsible, and it’s really upsetting my wife. She’s very supportive, but I know how much she hates it, and I can’t stand knowing how much I’m disappointing her by relapsing again and to such an extreme degree. She wants me to go to a 30-day program to dry out, and I’m not sure I’m ready to do it, but I am sure that I can’t keep drinking like this if I’m hurting her and risking our marriage. My goal is to do right by her and get back on track.
Sobriety is good for you, regardless of your motivation, but you’ll do better in the long run if you can root your reasons for getting sober in your own values, rather than in the feelings of others. If you focus too much on your wish not to disappoint your wife, then you risk losing that motivation if your wife isn’t around or if you’re angry at her. You should be less worried about her worry and more worried about why she’s so concerned in the first place.
Besides, if her approval isn’t warm enough, it becomes your wife’s fault that you can’t stay sober, and unless your wife is force-feeding you alcohol, she shouldn’t be burdened with any of this blame. Beginning in childhood, keeping your parents happy with you is a warm and fuzzy feeling, but if you need it too much, that approval becomes like a drug in itself.
Instead of asking yourself whether a 30-day program will satisfy your wife’s expectations, use what you know about alcoholism and treatment to ask yourself what it will do for your recovery. If you’ve had lots of treatment in the past, a 30-day program may have nothing new to add at this point. On the other hand, if you tend to relapse the moment you get home, you may need to spend a longer time in a 24-hour treatment setting before letting yourself return to the old triggers.
Remind yourself that 30-day treatments are expensive and aren’t usually covered by insurance. If the cost puts you in debt, it could literally drive you to drink, so don’t commit yourself unless you can afford it and believe it’s worthwhile.
Your wife’s feelings aside, ask yourself whether drinking has a negative impact on your health, work performance, parenting, and other relationships, and whether it’s caused you to compromise your values, particularly as a husband. Pay attention to your own priorities and judgment, and use whatever motivation you can find to get sober. Use AA to help you identify your own values and resources and direct treatment according to your own priorities.
Talk to your wife about where your head is at and what your goals are before committing to a program you’re not really invested in. Ultimately, you have to be the one pushing for your sobriety, no matter who approves or doesn’t.
“I can’t stand to see my wife’s face when I’m drinking, but I know what I need to do and the kinds of treatment that are available. I want to become the kind of husband I can respect.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname