A pretty important point is being missed here - as is usual when people get the opportunity to shout up their own favourites...
The fact is that PaintShop Pro is very, very good - certainly more than enough to get a beginner deeply into "experienced post-processor" territory (I used it myself for a good few years) and if the OP can't get good results from it, the software ain't the problem.
Recommending an alternative won't change that fundamental.
PP software needs to be learned - true whether we're talking about PSP, Photoshop, Lightroom, the Gimp - and in the situation DeadPixel describes, bouncing from program to program is the worst thing to suggest to him.
Hrm; are we talking about spending time learning whatever program you currently have, or finding something that fits your needs the best?
Gimp, Photoshop and PSP all have about the same (ridiculous) learning curve. At the end of the day, the only one in that list that has a reasonable number of people that you can ask for tips and tricks in the real world is Photoshop. Even tutorials and books for Gimp and PS get grossly out of date with the incrementing of a version due to the development fetish of moving and renaming stuff.
Lightroom, Aperture and one of the ACDSee products (pro I think?) are designed for photo management and moderate (but powerful) editing . . . definitely geared more towards photographers. I don't particularly LIKE Lightroom, but it had the quickest learning curve and I spend less time at the computer. Some people just become graphics designers and don't worry about the photography . . .
In the end, I guess, I only disagree on two points:
1) Not wanting to spend the time to master PSP, Photoshop or GIMP isn't a cardinal sin or personality flaw
2) The best time to try and switch is when you haven't gotten too used to one program or another
I do understand that the *real* Photoshop fanboys are the reason that PSP gets so little respect. Of course, those those fanboys are also he aforementioned people that we occasionally have to consult for help.