If a link to this article landed in your Inbox, or if it’s been printed and left anonymously on your desk, it could be that someone working close to you is taking the rather bold step of drawing your bitterness to your attention. Don’t get angry, don’t throw this immediately in the trash or click close on your browser. You can do either of those things in a few minutes. Could be they are trying to do you a favour without having to face you openly.
Bitterness is something that everyone feels once in a while. Call it extreme disappointment; maybe feeling robbed of some person or some thing we had counted on to be there for us. Perhaps you lost a loved one or you were passed over in the end for a promotion or a new job that had been yours for the taking or even promised you.
The thing is, extreme disappointment or bitterness isn’t supposed to last. It’s supposed to have an expiry period. Oh sure you will always recall the disappointment or even the heartache of whatever you feel was denied you. However, carrying that disappointment and allowing it to fester and grow, carrying it around with you like a badge of honour, is highly unattractive. It’s so unattractive in fact that not only does it show yourself in a negative light, it can be denying you many good things in life; opportunities you may or may not even know are being passed by as you get passed over.
You have to ask yourself, ‘What does carrying around my bitterness and making sure everyone I meet gets a taste of it do for me?’ Imagine if you will a straight line; on the extreme left you’ve got Joy, Elation, Excitement etc. Way over on the extreme right you’ve got Bitterness, Anger, Loathing. Somewhere in the middle there’s a midpoint of the two. What appears to have happened in your case is that some event or a series of events, has moved you way over to the extreme right and you never recovered your center; you’re grounded somewhere it’s unnatural to be, but it’s become your every day experience; and unfortunately it’s become what others who interact with you see as your dominant trait. No one was ever meant to stay in that extreme end position; unfortunately it seems you have.
If you’ve ever heard someone say things like, “Hey lighten up”, “What’s your problem?”, “It wouldn’t kill you to smile you know” etc., these are others ways of trying to get you to move on that scale. No one expects you to do a complete 180 and be joyous, excited and elated all the time. No, that would be unnatural for your disposition. At the same time, where you are permanently is where people were only meant to be periodically, and it’s not natural.
So maybe you’re not a people-person; or maybe it’s not that so much as you’d rather do things solo more often than you do at the moment. Could be the role you have in your work life isn’t a natural fit; that the job requires interpersonal skills and a general attitude that differs significantly from your own. If this is the case, one obvious sign is that when you’re away from work – say in your personal life and at home, you’re a changed person. Yes, if you feel your face gets set in a concrete grimace and lines of stress, furrowed eyebrows and a scowl start appearing on your commute to the workplace, this could be the reason.
However, if this bitterness persists beyond the workplace and is your reality both at work and every other place you go, it’s not just work that’s the problem. In such a case, you may find yourself more isolated from people in general no matter what the circumstances. I suppose you have to ask yourself, “Am I happy – really happy – with things the way they are.” If you think the world has to give you some reasons to feel less bitter before you make any conscious effort to drop the bitterness, it’s likely not going to work out that way. It always starts with you.
Look, whomever brought this to your attention is likely concerned about you and FOR you. Sure they’d rather interact with a happier you, but in truth, they probably are more focused on helping you become what they know could be a better you for your own sake.
Bitterness grows if you feed it. So you might have the experience, education and skills to deserve a promotion. However, your bitterness which comes across as brooding and biting is extremely concerning to those making the hiring decision. They aren’t going to promote you and give you added responsibility when this position you want is one of influence. No, it’s costing you dearly, and so as you get passed over again and again, your bitterness grows and gets reinforced.
Some need professional help to face where the bitterness stems from and help learning how to leave it behind. Not all, but some. You’ll also get massive support from anyone you talk to and ask for their help as you attempt to change what has become so ingrained in how you go about things.
It’s your life of course to live as you choose. Just don’t underestimate the cost of holding on to the bitterness.