1. Denial about the present: “It’s really not that bad.” It actually is a terrible situation—you are living in a fool’s paradise.
2. Imaginary improvement: “It’s really getting better.” This is wishful thinking; things are as bad as, or worse than, ever.
3. False hope: “Things are going to get much better soon.” You keep hoping—after all, you are an optimist. But the brighter tomorrow that you keep wishing and hoping for hasn’t happened. And there is no good reason to believe it ever will.
4. Tomorrow never comes: “I will leave for something better right after I finish this one important thing.” Then there will be one more thing, then another, then another. Life is messy. If you are waiting to tie a neat and pretty bow on it, and to leave at the perfect moment, you may wait forever.
5. It hurts so good: “I am learning so much and making such great connections that the abuse is worthwhile.” But is all the damage you and those around you are suffering really worth it? And aren’t you worried about turning into an asshole too (or perhaps it is too late)?
6. The savior complex: “Only I can make things better. No one else can replace me.” So if that’s true, why are things so bad in the first place? Is it possible that not only are you suffering, but you are powerless to fix things? Or that you are unwittingly fueling the asshole problem and someone else would be better equipped to deal with it?
7. I am not a wimp: “Sure, it’s bad. But I am tough. It’s not affecting me.” Hmm. I wonder if the people around you would agree.
8. I can turn it on and off: “Sure, it’s bad. But I am adept at ‘compartmentalizing’ so it doesn’t really affect my friends or family.” What do friends and family say behind your back?
9. Self-righteous suffering: “Sure, it is bad for me, but it is so much worse for others, I have no right complain.” Anything could always be worse. Martyrdom is a lousy excuse for staying in a terrible situation.
10. The grass will be even browner: “It’s bad here, but it would be even worse for me elsewhere.” Sure, no place is perfect. And some places might be worse. But have you really checked out your other options? This smells like a lame excuse.
This excerpt was taken from The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt, by Robert I. Sutton, PhD. Robert I. Sutton is a Stanford University professor and the author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss.