Save. Spend. Splurge.

You can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves

I met up with another working mother lately, and just asked how things are going.

So, apparently she had a very bad day at work, and long story short, she wants to quit. She can’t handle the environment there.

She makes about $40K and wants to make a similar amount of money, but doing something different, or changing, maybe going to another job to work, I don’t know.

Her only criteria at that point was a $40K job, something local she could walk to as she didn’t drive, and preferably not having to deal with people (wow this one is rough).

Not knowing her well, I sort of felt sympathetic and thought of ways to help her out.

(I know…. I know. Didn’t I learn my lesson? I cannot help myself, I just want everyone to be prosperous.)

So I suggested dog walking.

Brilliant right? No people, set your own hours, make your own money, get to exercise…

I said – start a business, walk dogs, do 4 in the early morning, 4 in late morning, take a break, do another 4 after noon, and 4 before you head home – it would be perfect, or you could vary the number of dogs, I don’t know.

But basically I gave her the idea, and that’s where I dust my hands off because either you take the idea and run with it, and do the research, getting excited that it is something you could do, get to walk outside in the fresh air all day and make moneyย  for yourself, or you don’t want to and you want to stay where you are, toxic fumes and all.

I get a lukewarm response.

So I suggest other options – why not go to another business, take whatever job there instead of going back to your old workplace you hate, and don’t want to go back to, and try something else?

She asks me what kind of businesses – now her area is pretty general, like a secretary, so I responded: ANY OF THEM. Just pick a nice business that has money like a law firm! Go from there.

Thanks, and then radio silence.

I realized a few things, in this short exchange I had (I didn’t spend too much time on it):

People have a lobster mindset

People will sit in warm water, then uncomfortably hot boiling water and not realize they’re being boiled alive, let alone do anything about it until it is too late and they snap.

If you are in a toxic work environment, you feel it is difficult, then you need to get out of it.

To get out of it, you need options.

You need to start pounding pavement, looking for another job, thinking about a small scalable business, or think about what skills or things you can see that require minimal overhead or work.

Her work stories sound eerily similar

In 99% of her jobs, she talks about how terrible the work environment was, that it was toxic, that it was this, and that manager was always riding her…

I am starting to get a clearer picture that perhaps it isn’t necessarily the work environment – it is her.

Some people, don’t want to work.

Let me clarify, because I don’t necessarily enjoy hard work either, but I do have a sense of – Hey I need to do something with myself, what can I do in society that is reasonably enjoyable most of the time and get paid?

They simply do not have the attitude and drive inside of them to actually want to get up out of bed and do anything.

Going to work for them, any job, is a chore.

Any manager who says the slightest things, is a difficult person to deal with or very critical.

But.. this is life. This is reality.

You are going to be in jobs, with managers who want a well-run organization, or flat out hate you.

You can choose to stay (lazy lobster), or you can leave and take a risk to try something else because you haven’t yet found your work groove or tribe.

But you can’t have both. You can’t be a lazy lobster, stewing in hot water wondering what you are going to do with this work conundrum, and also not show up to your job and give a solid show.

If you think you can get paid ANY amount of money to sort of sit around, doing nothing and be paid money, you’re beyond any help I can provide because that is a completely foreign concept to me, to sit around and just get paid.

I couldn’t do it. Imagine being paid to sit in a room for 8 hours a day by yourself, not allowed to do anything, but getting paid.

Is that your dream job?

Because half joking or not, it sure seems like that is what she is aiming for and it is a completely foreign concept to me because it sounds horrible.

I’d go INSANE just sitting in a room, not being allowed to do anything but get paid. I’d rather take less money and be doing something, ANYTHING (within reason, I mean, I don’t really want to peel and chop onions all day, or do anything that is detrimental to my health.)

You need to look your job as a whole package

There is good and bad in every job.

Sometimes, the work itself (customer complaint hot line anyone), is the pits. People call and scream at you, and you have to stay calm and zen.

However maybe your team is great, your manager is thoughtful, the work location is close, you get paid a lot, you have a fantastic benefits and vacation plan, and life is peachy keen.

Sometimes, it is the people you work with, but everything else is GREAT.

You have to evaluate the whole situation and take the good with the bad.

I do this with every contract I take – I sucked it up at a toxic work environment because the commute was awesome (I was remote), the pay was great (I was getting $250K a year), and the work was challenging and interesting.

Until I couldn’t take it any more of course, and quit.

Now I am on another contract where it is all so far, so good. Who knows what will happen in 2 years, but this for me right now, is going well.

She doesn’t actually want to do any of the hard work to change

No one really does.

It is more comfortable to wallow in the well-known mediocrity of life, accepting that things happen, but then complaining about it, rather than trying to go through the uncomfortable process of something new, dynamic and different.

She just wanted to cry, as she did in her old jobs, complain, and wallow in misery.

Well. That’s not my style.

I offer solutions because when you have a problem, I’m going to try and help you fix it.

I am not going to spend a lot of time wallowing in the pity party and misery with you for very long.

I’ll hang out there for a beat or two, maybe bring a cupcake or two, but we aren’t going to stay in that mode very long.

I could already see that offering to help and pushing to help would just end in my frustration. AGAIN.

I could see that she wasn’t willing to think outside of the box like start a dog walking business (business cards, website, etc), and she wasn’t willing to try another establishment and uproot herself.

She basically wants to stay where she is, wallow, cry, and I am not going along for the ride this time.

I’ll just stay on the fringes and offer soothing words of support and comfort but I am not going to involve myself emotionally and truly give my heart and all to help her change.

If you don’t want to change, I am not going to waste my time trying to help you (any more).


  • B

    โ€œ Now I am on another contract where it is all so far, so good.โ€œ – is a congratulations in order?!

  • ReadingSSS

    You’re right not to get emotionally involved with her problems. In fact, if someone you were close to were doing the same thing this woman is doing, it wouldn’t make sense to take on their emotional burden. As Little Bun grows up and makes mistakes in his personal and work relationships, it may be hard not to feel his pain as your own. It’s agonizing to watch someone you love stay in a bad situation they can get out of but continue to stay in.

    I’m pretty sure the woman you described today is just looking for sympathy. If she were ready to make that change–quitting a job is a major life change, much more than for contractors I would imagine–she wouldn’t need another person to suggest alternatives. Thinking of alternatives is the easy part. I’m thinking because you have much more of a traditional masculine mindset about work, as you described in a previous post, you may have a typical male response to someone describing a problem in her life. Men typically start listing courses of action and solutions to problems when women typically want an active listener, intelligent sympathy, and genuine empathy. In fact, someone who immediately starts offering solutions can be mistaken for someone who lacks empathy. Clearly you empathize with this woman. I hope she heard that in your voice.

    This is not to say, however, that you have to let this woman drone on about the same awful situation every time you meet, much less for the entirety of your time together. I would limit the time you spend listening to the same thing. It’s not healthy for you or for her. It sounds like this woman needs to spend time with a counselor or therapist to get at the bottom of her pattern of behavior. A good therapist won’t blurt out, “You have a pattern of behavior, and the problem is with you, not with them.” It takes a lot of skill and talent to help someone travel the path to self–perception and to find the courage to change. This is not your job, and you shouldn’t try to do it. I’d say this even if the person engaging in self-destructive patterns of behavior were someone as close to you as an immediate family member.

    I’ll bet you’re helping her a lot when you commiserate about toxic work environments

    On an unrelated and mundane note, your website in Chrome and Firefox, both the latest versions, jerks up and down repeatedly. This has has been doing this for months. Any idea why?

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I definitely limited my comments and time with her after that. She was a mother at Little Bun’s playgroup so once COVID hit, we no longer met up any longer.. honestly, I just want to help. I want to empathize (and I did), but I also want to help so that she is in a better place, but then I realized it wouldn’t work.

      I have no idea why it jerks up and down. Let me email you.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I also can’t seem to email you so here is my email:

      I can’t figure out why it’s acting so weird.

      1. Was it after I switched my theme?
      2. Has it gotten better? At all?
      3. I don’t see the same problems and I am trying to recreate it. What device are you using?

      I am trying to figure out why / what it is so I can fix it.


  • Catherine

    Is this a “different” person than the one I’m thinking about? Or are there others like her out there?

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