What do you do when you realize you’re the problem?

Let me set the scene – I spent my drive to work this morning nervously watching the gas gauge in my car because I don’t have money to buy gas until Friday. Problems with my family are still weighing heavy on my mind and I keep getting sick. So as you can imagine, I was a little on edge when I got to work.

Today I had to work with an obnoxious coworker that always gets under my skin. He likes to brag about his artistic endeavors, which at first, didn’t seem that impressive. I’m always on the defensive when I’m around him trying to think about how I’ll respond when he says this or that.

Today was probably the worst day for me to work with him, but surprisingly, he was actually pretty cool. I was still feeling pretty defensive and unfortunately, I bragged about my own work as an artist – something I said I would never do at work. The program I work in is not the place for that.

What happened? Today, I was the obnoxious one. Was I always the obnoxious one? Was it never him and always just a battle in my head?

As this coworker talked, I realized he’s actually done more than I thought. Maybe he actually knows what he’s talking about, which now has me questioning, do I know as much as I think I know? 

I’m a little embarrassed but it made me see that it’s time for me to take a breath and let my guard down. I don’t need to compete with anyone – especially at work. 

To top it off, I hurt my back moving art supplies this morning.

Arg. I can’t wait to go to bed and wake up to a new day. I think I learned my lesson.

Have you ever been in this situation? When you have a problem with someone else and then realize it might have been you all along?


  1. Lakitha Tolbert says

    Yes, I have been in that situation. I discovered that when I’m cranky, in pain, or feeling sick or unwell for any reason, I tend to dislike perfectly innocuous people who are not necessarily doing anything wrong. In fact, they’re probably trying to navigate my bad attitude and get past that because they know they haven’t done anything wrong.

  2. Katydid says

    First, kudos for having the thought and being willing to consider that maybe it’s you that’s the problem in this scenario. You being wrong may be true or may not be–it’s worth discussing with your therapist, who knows you better. IMO, it’s absolutely worth considering whether or not he might know what he’s talking about.
    My two cents: sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well. I would have loved to be more harmonious with a particular co-worker of mine. On paper, we should be the best of friends and the most productive of work teams, but…we’re just NOT. I don’t have any good advice for you on this (I just avoid the coworker if I want a pleasant day)–it might be worth discussing with your therapist, who knows you better. It could be that you could find a way to get along better.
    Sorry you hurt your back. Are there exercises you might do? PBS has a bunch of stretching programs on a bunch of different levels. They’re free and (I think?) streaming, so you might want to check them out.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Depends what you mean by “it was you”. I had a colleague who appeared to have a problem with me from day one. Let’s call him Bob. I had no idea why. It went on for years. I eventually mentioned it to another colleague. He told me it could be because Bob’s wife had left him years earlier… for a bloke who looked just like me. Sometimes it is you, and it isn’t.

    An aside: it seems to me few people reach this level of introspection – which is a shame.

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