Misery’s Company

Sometimes, you will find yourself in a miserable situation. It happens. Some of those times, there will be other people in the same situation who are genuinely good folks, and who are suffering right alongside you. While it’s nice to have some commiseration, there’s a dangerous element at play here.

Namely: hopefully you will escape that situation. Ideally, you’ll assert your personal agency very quickly and work to extract yourself. Some miserable situations are sticky, but most are far less sticky than people realize. But when people do realize that their chains are largely imaginary, they don’t always do so at the same speed.

So you may be the first to realize that you can just quit that terrible job, but then you may feel as though somehow you’re doing something bad to the people who haven’t yet realized the same. You’re leaving them behind, escaping when they “can’t.” It can feel like you’re practically stepping over their body to climb out of the pit, even though you’re doing no such thing. The person might lament – and truly believe – that you’re actually doing something to make their situation worse by leaving. After all, they’re losing a friend on the inside while you’re off to greener pastures!

First, remember: you aren’t.

They are as free to leave as you are, and your example may be exactly what they need. Whether it’s inspiration or just proof that it can be done, they need to see you leave as much as you need to leave yourself. And if you cave to the guilt, you’ve built the trap yourself.

If you have to, push them out in front of you or drag them along behind. If you care about them enough to chain yourself to them, make sure you’re dragging them up and not the other way around.

Be free together or be free alone, but don’t choose misery when you don’t have to. For anyone.

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