Without getting too Zen on you, one of the reasons you don’t break up with with a bad boss or a bad boyfriend is because you have mentally trapped yourself.
There are lots of other reasons to stay in a bad relationship with your boss/boyfriend/business partner/client/personal trainer/million dollar idea/etc, but I’m not here for those today. Today I want to help you think differently about your circumstances.
Here are three ways to change your thinking about breaking up with your boss or boyfriend.
The Sunk Cost Fallacy
The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an economics idea, but it applies to anything you invest in such as time or emotional energy.
This fallacy is a massive block to you breaking up with your boss or boo. As a friend or colleague, how many times have you heard some version of “I don’t want to leave [boo/boss/company], I’ve been with them for XX years” – I’m guessing almost daily.
What has having spent five years with a boss got to do with leaving if you’re miserable? Nothing. Nothing at all. But your brain tricks you into believing your investment will be wasted if you abandon it now.
Then there’s shame. Everyone’s favourite dark little secret.
Stopping an optional life choice raises the spectre of shame. If your boss or boo was so bad, why did you stay? Yes, there’s a bunch of rational reasons why starting to date that sociopath was a good idea, and maybe it took 24 months to realise he likes himself more than the rest of humanity, but that’s not what you tell yourself.
If you break up with your boss or boo, you, on some level, are ashamed that you stayed so long.
So, you don’t want to waste your investment and are avoiding the shame of the breakup. Sunk cost fallacy blocks you from making good decisions for your current and future self.
Kick that shit to the curb.
Sunk cost is about looking back and holding on, but you can start to look forward by thinking about the opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost, also known as what are you not doing? is another economics idea.
With finite resources, you have to make choices about what you are going to invest in. You’ve already done that by shacking up with Sociopath Loser Number Five or Psychopath Boss Number 57.
But what about the other guy, job, client, happy mental state that you are foregoing with your investment? This is your opportunity cost.
By being in a bad relationship with Sociopath Loser Number Five you chose to not be in a relationship with anyone else (usually) and by staying you are choosing to be attached and unhappy rather than single and happy.
Likewise with a bad boss or bad clients.
And don’t forget about the emotional energy you expend on these choices you have made. Even relieving yourself of the burden of Psychopath Boss Number 57 will make you happier.
By thinking about where else you could invest yourself and what you’ll gain by that, you’ll make better decisions about staying or going.
Change Your Circumstances Or Your Attitude
This whole post is about helping you to decide to break up with your boss or your boyfriend. The first two points are traps we all forget when trying to make those decisions; this last one helps you be happier if you stay.
“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude,” said Eleanor Roosevelt, but I like dichotomies, so for me, it’s an either or scenario. But both apply.
Sometimes you have to stay. Even after taking a cold hard look at your boss or boo with the above two ideas, it might make sense for you to stay.
This is going to get zen again, sorry. When being in a bad situation is your choice rather than your burden, then you are released from the angst/anger/boredom, and so forth that was previously clouding your better self.
Boss and Boo Begone!
We all like to think we are rational beings, it’s a complete delusion of course, but still, we like to see ourselves that way.
These three ideas will help you make more rational decisions about breaking up with who/whatever you need to. And if you don’t decide to make the break, it’ll help you to be more at peace with your decision.