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What The Embittered Can Do To Help Themselves

bitterness

Bitterness

What The Embittered Can Do To Help Themselves

When life has beaten you down, you can be embittered. Here’s possible help.

Even younger adults can feel beaten down: They didn’t get into a “good” college. Or they did but didn’t excel. Or, after graduation, they didn’t get the good job and instead are living The Barista Life. Or their relationships haven’t lived up to the fantasy. Or they see a future of never paying off that student debt, let alone affording to buy a home.

Of course, older people have had more time to become bitter and have less time left for things to get better.

Many bitter people confine their malaise to churlishness or seclusion. Some anesthetize or become activists for radical politico-economic change, if not by violent protest or terrorism, by supporting leftist candidates and causes.

I’ve seen an increased number of clients like that. I dub them as suffering from, I’m Bitter Syndrome. Perhaps one or more of these suggestion will help.

Ways to counter “I’m Bitter” Syndrome

Want to try something different? Find a job at which you’re more likely to succeed?  Change your attitude at work? Use a new approach to friends or romantic partner? Find a better friend or romantic partner? Reduce or stop your substance abuse?

Some people have become less bitter thanks to a more dramatic change. For example, one client, who had not been able to find a partner, decided to have a child solo. Another had weight loss surgery. A third1 left his wife, gave her most of his worldly possessions and became a monk. A fourth1 left a banking career in Los Angeles to manage a hardware store in small-town Minnesota. None of these people went from bitter to happy, but all felt the change was worth it.

Forgiveness?  You may have been treated unfairly by a family member, romantic partner, employer, or The System.  You may have made big mistakes. Is it wise to forgive them and yourself? Or is it wiser to hold onto that resentment?

Could you dredge up perspective? When you feel bitter, it’s difficult to put your life in perspective. But at the risk of sounding like your mother, compared with all the people in the world, healthy and not, in the U.S or not, with good relationships or not, with money or not, do you have justification for bitterness?

Might any of the above be worth a try? As with the clients I mentioned, they probably won’t transform you from bitter to Pollyanna but there’s a good chance it will be worth the effort.

1 Details changed to protect my clients’ anonymity.

Marty Nemko’s bio is in Wikipedia.

[Marty Nemko]

Named the San Francisco Bay Area’s “Best Career Coach,” Marty Nemko has been career and personal coach to 4,500 clients and enjoys a 96% client-satisfaction rate. The author of seven books (250,000 copies sold) including How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School plus over 2,000(!) published articles, including on Time.com where he also writes, Marty Nemko is in his 26th year as host of Work with Marty Nemko on KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco.) He was the one man in a one-man PBS-TV Pledge Drive Special. Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is married to Barbara Nemko, the Napa County Superintendent of Schools. They have one daughter and one doggie: Einstein, whose name is false advertising: He’s dumb as dirt but sweet as they come. The archive of Marty Nemko’s writings and radio show plus an active blog and Twitter stream are at www.martynemko.com.

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