Ever notice how we have the tendency to stay where things get pretty yucky? The familiarity makes it easy so we do what we need to do…but we don’t often look at the cost. I know I’ve been guilty of hoping that things will turn around and go the way I want them to and of falling in love with the potential over the reality. That is where most of us tend to get into trouble: we always hope it will get better even if we know that we can’t change a damn thing about those involved. Free will is a beautiful thing and it is a manipulation of energy if we hope to have others see and behave as we want them to. The reality is, as painful as it may be, we have to accept people as they are. At least at that point we know what we are working with.
The other side of this is for those of us who have struggled with mental health in the aspect of self-acceptance. We feel the compulsion to have people accept and validate us because we don’t know how to do that on our own. We weren’t taught those skills of propelling ourselves forward and doing the work for our own benefit: we need the security of people telling us we are ok and doing the right thing. We want to know that no matter what we do someone will be with us. So we bend and break and hurt ourselves making that identity acceptable to others so we aren’t alone. It’s like living multiple lives depending on who the audience is.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day about the circumstances going on at her job and her decision to leave where she’s been for the last seven years. She mentioned she had a brief moment of wanting to stay where she was at because she knew the routine and the area and she didn’t want to leave her co-workers in a bind. We discussed the current state of her role and she mentioned that there was always a bigger picture there but it had failed to launch for the last several years—she has grown tired of waiting for it. Patterns exist to keep people where they are and she had grown impatient with looking for a future that wouldn’t come because every time they got some traction, something pulled them right back where they were. I told her it was the same with most things in life and when we see we are getting hurt from continuing the pattern, it is time to go.
I saw a pattern in my own life: constantly running around the mountain telling people how to do things instead of focusing on my own path. I saw myself staying with people who constantly spread the kerosene while I tried to hold the match away. And I realized in that moment that I’m the one getting burned. In those circumstances (which we all face) we have a choice: continue to hold the match and get burned or drop it and walk away. If we stay, the fire will consume us, too. We have to trust that at some point we’ve done all we can, and when we are hurting ourselves more than our message is getting through, it is time to walk away. When we realize the energy doesn’t match ours, it’s time to pivot and go where we belong. There are certain things we are simply not meant to save.
It is ok to walk away from things that no longer serve. There is a time and place to do your part, even if it means a bit of self-sacrifice, but there are lines. When those boundaries are continually crossed, it’s time to evaluate the situation and decide if it’s enough or if it’s something to push forward with. Letting go of the familiar can be scary but that is where growth is and if the familiar is causing more harm than good, it’s time to go anyway. The approval you seek isn’t going to come. The love you want isn’t going to come in the way you think it will—at least not from that person. So the advice: drop the match. Learn to let go when the choice to stay hurts you more than leaving. It will be well worth the sacrifice because if it comes down to you over them, choose you every time. You are not responsible for their happiness and comfort, you are responsible for your own.