Choose Another Path

Once in a while people tell me about an impossible relationship in their lives. It may be a boss or co-worker from hell or worse still, a highly destructive family member. Then comes the inevitable question, “”What can I do?”

This article is not intended to reinforce a “victim” mentality that leaves you feeling helpless. Nor is it about putting the entire blame on others. It’s about tweaking our expectations as to what we can actually do about the situation.

You may not be able to change the other person’s behavior. But you can change your attitude which is the prelude to you choosing a different course of action. You do this by deciding,

  1. “I am worth more than this”

There comes a moment when we wake up to the fact that we can do without disrespect, hurt, or a ‘death by a thousand cuts‘. This awareness may lead you seek out a better way for yourself. It may also be the occasion to develop healthier relationships or find a new place to work.

2.  “I will push back”

Don’t try to appease the bullies of life by showing them how reasonable you are. They will continue to walk all over you. Learning to say, “Back off” or “Your behavior is unacceptable” may seem awfully risky especially if you have little experience in this direct approach.

Fighting fire with fire is often the only language that some people understand. Talk to some of your peers and friends and see how drawing a line in the sand with this tough character has worked in the past. Then try it for yourself but first get a few influential people to cover your back. If there is no change after such confrontations then,

3.  “I’m out of here”

Life is too short to have exceptionally toxic people around us. Here we listen to our inner wisdom and move on. Continually believing that we can change the dysfunctional behavior of others by being more loving or understanding  is the heart of co-dependency.

4. “I don’t know right now”

Not every relationship decision is cut and dried. Acting decisively just for the sake of a resolution is not always the course dictated by wisdom. There are times we have to live with ambivalence or the gray areas of life for a while. It is often in the “valley of the shadow” that life’s greatest lessons are learned. Actively waiting is also an option. But it is not the same as resigned passivity or procrastination.

However, there is no reason to be ashamed of wanting to take care of yourself.

You will never be made the saint of lost causes anyway.


“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.” –

Maya Angelou



About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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2 Responses to Choose Another Path

  1. Sondi says:

    Oh wise one. So very very true.

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