The issue with being overly optimistic
I am an optimistic person, I am a forgiving person and I see the silver-lining in things. I have a strong sense of right and wrong and I also have openly told people that I would never squeal on anyone as I never want to do that. I have broadcasted my 'snitches get stitches' and when it came to it they tested the ground and I didn't tell on them. I didn't tell that they had thrown me under the bus in front of the boss by leading me in a different (incorrect) path in work. I loved my job and at the end they were helping others in the team. Why could I not trust them? It was so confusing.
They were helping people I loved and they were even going out of their way to help them. It just didn't seem to translate for me though. I mean telling me something else and leading me down a different path is calculated, right? I remember the first time it happened. I had an entire morning even joining the group outside in the sunshine while they smoked. I was part of the fold, I was part of the team. We had a discussion about a team member going to our VP about some behaviour from our boss. The guys questioned me about it and asked me what I thought I would do and I got passionate. I got passionate about being a team and that we stick together and telling on someone is not something that is done. It is not the playground. We don't go tell on each other. We address the issues ourselves and do not go to the bosses to squeal.
That afternoon we had our standup meeting in work and as I stood there to explain to my boss what I had covered and thank my colleagues for helping me the previous week, my colleague interrupted and explained that I didn't do the work but something else. My mouth dropped. I was gobsmacked. I had been learning and only started in the position. I froze. I didn't say anything but I was upset. I couldn't believe that a team member stood there - the person who had helped me the entire week learning Android and went out of his way to spend the entire day daily teaching me this stuff would then turn to the boss and say outright that I didn't do the work that the boss had assigned.
The worst part was, that that was true and he (the colleague) had told me that he would let the boss know and that as I was learning that it was all fine. He would tell him that it was fine. Instead it was the complete opposite. I was so upset. I had trusted him. I had been learning all week with activities my colleague assigned to me and ignored the bosses tasks based on his word that he would tell the boss that he gave me activities to do instead.
One of the most toxic things that you can do is to ignore someone's bad behaviour because you love your job. You can choose to forgive and forgive easily, however, it is a case of whether the person will do it to you again or not. I have been in positions where I have forgiven and moved on and in the end the people have repeated the same behaviour again and the level of hurt sustained was unimaginable the first time and the second time was worse! I couldn't believe that they had done it again and I couldn't get over the hurt to forgive them for what they did. I mean I had told them this was painful, why would they purposely go out of their way to hurt me again if they loved me. Why would they put other people ahead of me? Why would they do it? Why? Just why?
The never ending questioning of why can lead you to spiral as you cannot understand why someone would do such a thing. Why they would lie and why you trusted them for a second time after they had said they wouldn't do it again. Why you had thought you addressed the issue and it wasn't addressed and why they were going completely out of their way for others in the team only to let you down over and over again. These were the people that eventually would snicker at you and call you names to your face and while the survival mode kicked in, you froze, and couldn't believe it was happening. It was a dark place but you remained so optimistic that you had been through a lot in your life already and loved the job that you tried to cope with noise cancelling headphones and separation from the team to work only without any personal details. It all happened quite quickly in the end.
A few months passed and you tried to remain upbeat and optimistic in the team. Going to work was challenging but you know, it was the job you had worked so hard for and loved. You had the qualifications. You would tell yourself you deserve to be there, you were qualified, it didn't matter if you got along with the team. You could go for a walk at lunch and take the time during the day yourself. You listened to music or speeches at night. Still exhausted and trying to cope, you read books, listened to podcasts and all the while not feeling very productive because you were exhausted and tired all the time. Struggling to cope but remaining optimistic - you had a job, you had income, it could be worse!
Being optimistic and upbeat and trying to watch comedy is one of my ways of coping but abuse is abuse and when it came to it, this was one example of something that happened daily over months and minute by minute something else would happen. Ignoring someone can have the same impact on your brain as a physical attack. The same chemicals are released. Ignoring something is one thing, physically hitting your chair passing you by and making fun of you isn't something anyone should stand for. It happens incrementally and you make excuses because you are in a job that you love and worked so hard for, you want to be a developer, you are still learning. You had loved this position. Your boundaries start to deteriorate. Slowly breaking you down and your confidence until burnout happens - see other post on burnout for more details!
Being overly optimistic can lead you to forgive the unforgivable or if you can't forgive, it can also lead you to ignore someone's bad behaviour and create a blindspot. You try to ignore it as the experts tell you to remain positive and ignore the bullies but this, in my opinion, should never happen. Creating blindspots allows us to act akin to an Ostrich, we can stick our heads in the sand, we can tell ourselves to focus on the task at hand, it's not that bad, we have been through worse, we can deal with it, the people don't know what they are doing, they didn't do it on purpose, you are still working in the job you love, you are still there, it is worth it, other companies will be the same, maybe I am sensitive, maybe the guys aren't that bad, maybe they didn't mean it... all of these create blindspots and you can be overly optimistic. This is damaging, this is undermining to you and your feelings. Yes you should cope and perhaps you are in a situation that you cannot leave. I read books and listened to podcasts about being in toxic workplaces. None of which helped as they all said that you should leave the environment. I thought it was fine but it wasn't. Anger and resentment and bitterness can take hold and twist your sense of being and your perspective as you suppress it instead of addressing it. It will overwhelm you. I have learnt this lesson already! Ignoring your feelings will only get the better of you and your life and will end up in a place that is not right.
Another toxic belief is to keep fighting through in an environment that is toxic. This is not helpful. All of the motivational videos will tell you that you must fight, you will overcome an obstacle. If you have an option to leave - leave! This toxic environment can rub off on you like the way you can put a rotten apple beside healthy ones and they all become rotten. You will too become rotten. It is contagious. Your sense of worth will decrease and you will attain some toxic beliefs as a result of being around people with what are known as 'dark personalities'. It is not worth it. When you read the book 'Rising above a toxic workplace' from Gary Chapman, Dr. Paul White and Harold Myra, all of them come to the conclusion that most people stay too long in toxic workplaces and end up losing confidence.
Separate the facts from the people and isolate these from each other to gain some perspective - this will help to see if their actions align with what they are saying. Oftentimes in toxic workplaces the boss will tell you something but do something else and in this case it was true. You will never win if the boss is not supportive. It's time to leave.
You were somewhere else before. You will get the money if you go somewhere else. Look for support! Find the other job! Get help, reach out to others that have experienced working in a toxic environment. Others will help you to see that some behaviours are not acceptable. Being overly optimistic can undermine your own feelings and you can bury them. This is unhealthy and they will come out and even in a misdirected, unguided fashion they will come out. See the post regarding burnout. Your brain will thank you if you leave. It will set off a chain of events to become a freer, happier, more fulfilling life if and when you do.
I know the things that I should have done to address this situation now and I will keep these lessons forever. I have let go of the past, I have forgiven - see post on the act of forgiveness, I have a sense of freedom that I had before this happened and I am not trapped from the anger and resentment that occurred as a result of being in this cage of hurt and abuse. Being trapped as an animal is the same as being trapped in a cage, you will lash out, it just depends on who opens that cage next that will get the repercussions. It's important to open the cage yourself, allow yourself to feel the hurt and pain to get to the forgiveness, learn the lessons and let go of the past. You will be free, you won't let it happen again and you won't convince yourself to be optimistic in times when someone is openly throwing you under the bus again! Never make excuses for someone's bad behaviour when it should not be tolerated. It's important to gain perspective from their perspective to gain empathy but excusing it is another thing. Forgiving is freedom and letting go of the past but keeping the lessons will give you ease.
Comments are closed.