no common ground

I haven’t been taking my own advice.  When dealing with situations that feel harmful, I always say, rather than trying to change the other or others involved, get out of the way yourself.  This is the quickest way to put an end to a bad situation, since the other guy may not see it as you do, or he might ignore your entreaties to stop doing whatever it is you don’t like.  (He has the right to.)

Since the only person you can change is yourself, I always say: Leave.

I still think this is good advice.

But I haven’t been applying it.  That’s because I’ve failed to consider that we sometimes cannot see when a situation is harmful.   Even if we’ve been unhappy, or complaining, trying to resolve conflict or trying to get others to resolve it, we may have never really seen the situation as harmful. 

There are times when we perceive a situation as intrinsically inescapable.

This could be a result of learned helplessness, codependency, enmeshment, and the like.  But it might also be from the inability to see oneself as a victim or outsider.

If the other is family, or a colleague or a friend, if I belong to the same group as him, even if I belong only marginally, I may not see him as “other”, or as different enough from me to warrant saying “No”.  It’s not that I am in a psychologically fused state.  I just see us as on the same team, and stick it out even when there are problems.  I may be pathologically trusting.

If I am to step out of a situation that is harmful to me, I have to step into that place where I no longer have anything in common with you, that area beyond the margins, where my difference lies.  If I have been the family or work scapegoat, though I may have been seen by you as different for a long time, I may not have seen myself this way. 

When a situation is harmful to me, but nobody but me wants to change it, it is time to see my difference and assume it.  Be other, and get out.


  1. ---pathologically trusting---
    I've called it "addicted to giving people the benefit of the doubt", but I like your term better.
    Courage, friend.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Dry. Have you heard about the link between oxytocin and trust? Explains why some of us can be so foolish:


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