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Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

The attention the sick systems post is getting is, ah, rather overwhelming. I'm so, so happy that y'all have found it useful in what clarifying what happened to you. I'm sad and astonished that so many people had the same experiences. When I wrote it I was thinking of a few extreme situations I've found myself in or watched friends flounder through, so I considered sick systems rare and deeply pathological. What y'all are saying, both here and in conversations around the net, is that almost everyone has gotten stuck in a sick system at some point in their lives, and that they're an inground part of life in some slices of the world.

Something is wrong.

This is where I'm supposed to follow up with What to Do to Fix the World, but the answer is: nothing. You can't fix a sick system from within unless you have power, and you can't fix a sick system from outside, period. You can't compel people to leave. You can convince them to leave, but the moment that convinces them is individual, like enlightenment striking a monk because his master made a joke about a spade. And when a stuck person chooses to leave, it will be long, long, long after they should have gotten out.

So instead I offer you a list:

Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

A strong work ethic
A need to be useful to others

You don't need to lose these qualities to get out. But if you're stuck and trying to figure out what's keeping you in, remember that people rarely get stuck because of their vices. They're usually caught by their virtues.


Jun. 20th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Your words resonated
Sometimes people cannot perceive something until it is described succinctly and accurately, which you've done.

I've left several sick systems, and found that for the people left behind, I could speak to them, or leave clues, but they often stayed enmeshed for a while longer.
Be patient, though and you can get a chance to help them out.

6 years after I broke away from mom, Sis came to me crying from a mom visit. I gave her practical advice like: don't let her control your transportation - pay for a rental vehicle. Spring for dinner at a fancy restaurant - she's politer in front of strangers, and even more so in an upscale place. Create a forced limit to the event, make plans to see a supportive friend afterwards, so you have a firm reason to leave and go where you can recover.

Escaping from the sick job... my mentor did it gracefully, my departure was less so, but I've got a great new job, but we left a woman behind. So after an evening of good food and drink, we considered the problem of how to free her. Job loyalty and lack of diverse experience are an issue, as well as pressing family problems that keep her tired. Mentor recently turned down a job that would be great for our left behind friend, so we plan to start talking about the minutiae of daily life in the new job, to get her comfortable in the idea.

The plan may take a few months to implement, but that's kind of the speed the heart's emotions run at anyway.

P.S. We did try to find a way for her to get away for a week, which can be just long enough to clear her head of the craziness, and realized that family obligations blocked such an escape. Still thinking about options though.

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