You wake up in the morning with an overwhelming sense of dread. You weigh how long you can put off the day’s activities. You begin to bargain with what you can avoid and what you cannot. You start to do the math: how much do you make an hour? How much money would you lose if you didn’t go to work? Can you afford that? Or, do you have to interact with that partner, “friend,” family member, coworker, boss; the one that puts the dark clouds in your days?
You’ve probably figured out long before seeing this blog post that something has to give. That these are clear indicators that not all is well and that whatever your current arrangement is, it isn’t working for you. You know the millions of reasons you’re dying for a change, but you’re still stuck. Some situations, due to economic or social mandates, are unavoidable. In these cases, social and sometimes professional support are critical to get you through the hard work you are doing.
Some situations, however, are ones you know you can change but are hitting hard internal blocks when you try. It’s worth considering reasons, “benefits,” to staying in your situation so you can understand your personal truth and big picture. Some common ones are:
- “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Rumor originates this idiom in the 1500’s. In other words, it can feel preferable to deal with a difficulty you are familiar than to chance having to deal with something you don’t already understand. There’s a fear, here, of the unknown and the lack of security you take in giving up a crummy but unhappy situation. There’s an attractive security surrounding the reason you’re stuck. At the same time, however, there’s also the open possibility of absolutely anything besides what you’re dealing with now. You can foreclose on your life possibilities and stay with what you have, or you can give it up for absolutely any other experience.
- Nobody wants to fail. Taking a chance on taking control of your situation also means that you might find out that you can’t do it. If you don’t take a risk, you can’t lose that gamble. What you are doing, however, is deciding to never have the opportunity of that success. If the pain of the potential failure would mean more to you than the pain you currently experience, this could be what’s keeping you stuck. This too, however, is a large foreclosure on your potential and plays heavily on the next item…
- You feel like you’ve already wasted your life, you’re already “trash,” there’s no hope for you. You’ve already made a large number of mistakes and don’t see the point in the work from this point. You are what you are. Except for the fact that everyone has made mistakes, which you know. But something you might not have considered is the total relative timespan you have left to decide for. Let’s say you live until 80. If you’re 60 years old, you know how much can be accomplished every 20 years and you have that time to decide what happens now. If you’re 40 years old, that means your entire life and all of the decisions you’ve made and everything you’ve become, you have that entire time to work with before your life is up. If you’re 20, you can redo it all 3 more times, relative time speaking. If you’re truly ready to throw in the towel, that’s definitely up to you, but time is likely in your favor.
- Being alone is painful. This is especially relevant in relationships you know have been negative, even toxic, but that you find yourself stuck inside. That relationship, however harmful, may be filling an overwhelming need to not be alone. You will often face the decision to accept the pain of being alone but the freedom of being away from toxicity. You may make the decision and then change your mind more than once. While you may feel painfully raw alone, however, know that you are in the best position to heal.
The decision for change can be awfully difficult and start with the smallest of steps. Sometimes it can feel like you’re going in circles, and sometimes you truly are working hard but have outside forces keeping you stuck. Figure out what keeps you, and keep re-assessing what it's worth. And if this is something you need help with, we can schedule some time to talk.
Stephanie Bloodworth, LMFT-A
Cross posted at Flourish Mental Health