Category: life advice

The Rule I Use To Help Me Navigate The Tough Stuff

There are not many hard and fast rules that I cling to. Rogue that I am, I’ll wear white after Labor Day, I’m not afraid to call guys one day after a date and I’ve been known to drink the water, um, everywhere.


There is one rule that I reference on the regular and, friends, that rule is “The Bad/Break Rule.” And here is the crux of my extremely complex approach to the challenges of modern life: When something or someone is making you feel bad, you need to make a break for it.

This is not where I advocate giving up on things that challenge you, walking out on your partner after an argument about the laundry or quitting your job because you’re the only one who ever makes coffee. A situation or person that makes you feel bad is not the same as a situation or person that makes you feel frustrated, annoyed, challenged, exasperated or overwhelmed.

But the partner that makes you question your self worth or feel unattractive? The boss that yells at you in front of colleagues and makes you cry? The friend that mocks your dreams or lies to you? That business makes a person feel bad. And you know what you can do about it? Leave. You can quit the job, end the relationship, stop taking that friend’s calls.

As an owner of rose-colored glasses, I can frequently convince myself that any relationship or situation is salvageable and that with good communication and kind intentions we can all make good. Which may be true. But all that compromising and communicating is also time consuming and exhausting. And it’s not always worth it! There are thousands of jobs and homes and relationships out there that aren’t right for us. And life needn’t be as complicated as we make it. If someone or something is making you feel bad, you owe it to yourself to distance yourself from them.

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience in which we rationalize away a partner’s/employer’s/friend’s shortcomings and make excuses for the things that they do and say that make us feel shitty. He told me I looked fat because he had a tough day at work. She yelled at me because she was frustrated that our program lost funding. She made fun of my haircut (for the eighth time, after I asked her not too) because that’s her sense of humor. Nobody’s perfect.

And then later, somewhere down the line, we get a new job or start seeing someone new or make a new friend at book club and are overwhelmed by how easy it is. How amazing it feels to be congratulated and valued and treated with respect! So this is how it’s supposed to be! Who knew?!

Of course, into every life a bit of frustration and compromise must fall. And nobody is, in fact, perfect. But life’s too short to be wandering around this amazing world in the company of people that make you feel bad. So point your feet towards the horizon, walk away from that rubbish and towards something that will make you happy.

What do you do when faced with people or situations that make you feel bad? What bad stuff have you distanced yourself from?

photo by paula borowska // cc