Tag Archives: honest

Quitting

Last Friday I resigned from my medical transcription job. Shortly after emailing my letter of resignation to my supervisor, she called me, wanting to know why.

I told her the truth. I don’t feel as though my contribution matters. I don’t like the company culture of perfectionism and high stress. I don’t feel valued as an employee, and my skills and talents are worth more than I’m receiving.

We parted in a friendly manner. She assured me I was eligible for re-hire any time and wished me well. I wished her and the rest of the team well. Cyber handshakes and smiles all around.

I’m in the middle of selling a property back in Colorado. I currently have wonderful renters in the house. They’ve been honest, cooperative, open and have done every single thing they’ve said they would do. They’ve become friends. I’m faxing paperwork, including the lease with these tenants, to Colorado and working with my Colorado real estate agent long distance. The agent expressed surprise that our rental agreement didn’t contain language about punitive consequences if the tenants suddenly decided to break the lease and leave.

It never entered my head to limit my tenants’ choice to leave if they were unhappy. Obviously, at least one property professional feels this is inappropriate business practice, but why would I want to force two people whom I respect and like to stay in a situation that wasn’t working for them?

Answer: I wouldn’t want to, I didn’t want to and I don’t want to.

Last evening I had a long conversation with one of my sons, and among the things we talked about was the idea of noticing how things are within ourselves and the choices we make about our own unhappiness and discomfort.

This morning, as I fried bacon and sausage and worked in the kitchen, I was thinking about this week’s blog, trying to come up with something I wanted to write about from my current experience, and suddenly all these interactions lined up in my head (Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!) and I thought, well, there it is. I want to write about quitting.

What do you think of when you think of quitting?

I think of the word “should,” as in should quit smoking, should quit drinking, should quit eating so much sugar, should quit fill-in-the-blank. These are the kind of circumstances under which quitting is supported and validated, but the “should” is an instrument of shame, guilt and fear, as well as a thoroughly ineffective motivator.

I was taught being a quitter or a dropper outer is a desperately mortifying thing. Quitting is associated with betrayal, abandonment, failure, letting others down and weakness.

Quitting is often an act of aggression. It’s what we do when we’ve hung on by our fingernails until they’ve torn out, one by one, and we have to let go or die. It’s hitting bottom. It’s burnout, breakdown and nothing left to lose, often accompanied by scenes, meltdowns and an exchange of insults.

Quitting is selfish and irresponsible. Choosing to be happy is an embarrassing thing to admit. We’re told If everyone did what made them happy, everything would unravel. Nobody would work. Important things wouldn’t get done. The economy would collapse.

There are cultural consequences for quitting. The label “quitter” impairs our ability to get hired, find stable relationships or make financial choices. A quitter is unreliable and untrustworthy at best. Someone who quits their marriage, family or children is so despicable as to be unforgiveable in some cases.

The word quit, according to a quick search, means to leave a place, resign from a job or stop or discontinue an activity. In short, it’s a word that defines a choice. Interestingly, one of its origins is Middle English, in which it means “set free.”

Set free sounds a lot more positive than quitting, doesn’t it?

It occurs to me that the whole idea of quitting is rooted in power. To quit is to stop. How is it that the culture is so unfriendly and unsupportive, for the most part, of making a choice to stop? Why are we so consistently and pervasively discouraged from saying no, from quitting, from changing?

I’ve written before about the yes and the no. To be in our full power, both consent and dissent have to be available to us. We have to be able to make a real choice. The inability to freely choose points to a power-over situation, and it doesn’t matter if it’s work related, relationship related, addiction related or some internal limitation like fear. Something or someone is interfering with our power to freely choose if we can’t make a choice to quit.

Said a different way, the problem is not so much the addictive substance, the miserable job, the narcissistic family member or the abusive romantic relationship. The problem is we’ve been systematically amputated from our full power to choose.

Sadly, this is a consequence, at least in part, of our current educational system in the United States. It doesn’t work for a lot of kids. It didn’t work for me. It didn’t work for my kids. I told my sons the same thing I was taught when they complained. Education is important. Everyone has to go to school. It’s the law. We all have to do things we don’t want to. Being happy doesn’t matter.

Ugh. I wish I hadn’t believed that. I wish I hadn’t said it, and more than anything I wish I’d listened to their distress and taught them to respond to it appropriately by responding to it appropriately myself. At the time, all I had was what I’d been taught, and I’m absolutely certain my own mother taught me the only thing she knew as well.

The point is few of us learn how to respond to our discomfort or unhappiness, either by expressing it appropriately or taking action to help ourselves. Public education certainly doesn’t teach it. The way we work in this country doesn’t support it. Patriarchy in general doesn’t validate self-reflection, honest communication, or simply saying, “No more. This isn’t working for me. I’m stopping. I’m quitting.”

On the other hand, we’re great at demanding and commanding, as in “You should … You will … You must … You have to …” However, living in a cage of internalized and externalized shoulds is more power-over. When the shoulds have our power, we’re not free to choose. I know, because that’s how I’ve lived most of my life.

One of the hallmarks of power-over is its resistance to change. Change threatens the status quo. Traditional marriage vows are forever, no matter what. Many jobs rewards length of service. We’re encouraged to grow up, settle down, get a stable life. Loyalty, dependability, reliability and predictability, are all rooted in not changing.

But we do change. Our bodies change. Our needs and desires change. We learn new information. The things that captivate and delight us change. The best of us learn, grow, question, seek new experience, dance elegantly with challenge and tension, and develop a healthy relationship with being wrong. The best of us spend a lifetime making friends with our changing selves, investigating our motivations, our patterns, our behaviors and beliefs, our weaknesses and strengths, and doing battle with our fears and demons.

A relationship, job, priority or place may be a perfect fit at some point in our lives, and then be outgrown. A coping mechanism or response may work very well, even save our lives at one time, and cripple us at another. Life is always changing. The ability to flow with change, to welcome it and play with it, responding with free choice after free choice, defines a well-lived, powerful, elegant life

Quitting, like boredom, has a bad reputation. I suspect this is mostly due to a cultural smear campaign. My son is in his 20s, and as he shared parts of his experience with me, I realized we’ve arrived at the same place, he’s just 30 years ahead of his late-blooming mother. He’s reclaiming his power to respond to his own discomfort and distress and choose what to do, based on prior choices and how they worked out. He’s not waiting until he can no longer bear his unhappiness. He’s not quitting in a blaze of hand grenades and gunfire. He’s not self-destructing. He’s allowing himself to stop, to change, to leave. He’s setting himself free of what doesn’t work for him, and he’s doing it without guilt or shame or the need for outside validation.

Quitting is an art. I can be done with respect, gratitude and dignity. It can be a gift of love and authenticity to self and others. The right person for a job, place or activity is not someone who hates the job, place or activity. The right job, place or activity for us is not the one that makes us unhappy. Commitment, responsibility and keeping our word are all important things, but not unto death. Not unto madness and broken-down health. We are allowed to set ourselves free. We are allowed to change. We are allowed to learn. We are allowed to try and fail and move on.

I began this project of blogging with a letter of resignation. This week I sent another letter of resignation. In both cases, I hung on long after I knew I was miserable because I was afraid to make a change. I have more work to do in building trust with myself, but I’ve made a start.

My daily crime: I quit.

Please visit my Good Girl Rebellion page for permission to be free of what doesn’t work for you.

All content on this site ©2017
Jennifer Rose
except where otherwise noted

The Yes and the No

I had some feedback on last week’s post that indicated I’m not the only people pleaser around!  Here’s what some other people are saying about learning to say no: http://lifehacker.com/5875337/how-to-say-no-without-being-an-asshole

http://zenhabits.net/say-yes/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201311/the-power-no

People pleasing is connected to several other pieces of interpersonal functioning, like boundaries, power, authenticity and integrity.

The inability to say yes is as problematic as the inability to say no.  If you can’t say yes, your no is meaningless.  If you can’t say no, your yes is meaningless.  This damages relationships with others, sure, but I think the more significant damage occurs in our relationships with ourselves.  How can we trust ourselves if we don’t take responsibility for making and communicating honest choices?

It doesn’t matter if the relationship we look at is professional, family, peer or romantic.  If we’re too cowed to give an honest yes or no, how healthy is that relationship?  Why is someone trying to take away our power and, more importantly, why are we letting them?

I know.  Love.  Obligation.  Even fear.  But wait.

Do you feel loved when you can’t speak an honest yes or no without receiving indifference, withdrawal, scorn, drama, rage, sarcasm, a physical blow, tears or an emotional outburst?  Maybe your intention is to love and be loved, but is that really happening?  How can you be loved if you’re not showing up honestly?  If you’re loved for your compliance, your compliance is what’s getting loved, not you.

Do we have an obligation and a duty to be connected to people who don’t respect our yes and no?  Do we owe that to someone because they’re family, or someone we have history with, or our boss, or someone we want to love or be loved by?  Who says?  Did you sign a contract at some point?

And then there’s fear.

At this point in my life I’m not as concerned as I once was about making the wrong choice, whatever that means.  I’m more interested in being clear about the choices I am making and why.

So, just to be clear, I’m choosing to stay in relationship with (fill in the blank), even though I’m not allowed to say yes or no honestly without (fill in the blank).  I’m doing that because I hope one day they’ll love me, or because I owe it to them, or because I’m afraid of them.  I’m doing it, in short, because they have something I think I need.

Now, pay attention.

They have something I need.

Do they really?  Are we sure?  Is the job or relationship or inheritance or influence more important than our ability to live with authenticity and fully in our own power?

If your answer to that is yes, I understand.  I was in an abusive marriage for a time because I had two young children, no job, no car, no money, no childcare and no hope.  I deliberately chose that relationship because I didn’t know how to survive without the financial support my husband provided.  My children and I paid a heavy price, but he did help keep us afloat during a critical time.  The marriage didn’t last, of course.  Even now, on a summer morning more than twenty years later, I don’t know what else I might have done.  I don’t know what might have happened to us if I hadn’t made the choice I made.  Maybe something much healthier.  Maybe a homeless shelter.

This, my friends, is the ancient and powerful archetype of prostitution, and we all participate in it in some way at some point in our lives.  It’s part of being human and is much larger than the specifics of gender and sex.  More on archetypes later.

When you look at your relationships through this filter of making and communicating honest choices, what do you see?  What’s your role in this dynamic?  Are you the one who can’t say yes or no, or are you the one who can’t hear them?  Why are you engaged in this dynamic?  How is it working for you?  Are you happy with yourself, and with your connections?  Are you interested in learning how to do things differently?

Check out the page in this blog called ‘The Hanged Man.’  Here I’ll share excerpts from my book, soon to be published.  Not surprisingly, much of the material in this blog is also embedded in the book.

All content on this site ©2016
Jennifer Rose
except where otherwise noted