When faced with a larger than life decision, especially when it relates to work and relationships, why is the default oftentimes taking the path you have already traveled?
We hear of a friend taking back a partner who has not treated them well in the past and we wonder why.
We stay friends with people who do not respect us and make us feel exhausted at the very thought of seeing and spending time with them.
People stay in jobs that are sucking the life right out of them. They say they are unhappy yet are unable to make a move to something else.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
It is very easy for you to provide advice when the person who is living through these situations reaches out to you. We can see the path clearly for them and then we wonder why they are reluctant to make such a change for what would, obviously, be a better life situation for them.
Put yourself in the exact same situation and you may not follow the advice you would so sagely pass along to someone else because it is not that simple. When you are in the situation it can be hard to find your way out and it may feel easier to just stay where you are and put up with whatever is coming at you.
As human beings we tend to seek what is familiar to us because it is what we know. We know what to expect and that is comforting – even if the situation you find yourself in has negative consequences.
It is the devil we know.
It is easier to live with what we know than it is to upend our lives and make a change to pursue a more positive life situation that feels unfamiliar because it would be uncomfortable – even when we know that the trade-off of staying put has proven to be harmful. We want to be able to see the future in a crystal ball to see how the change would work out for us, but sadly, we cannot do that for ourselves.
What is unfamiliar and uncomfortable is also unknown and that alone is enough to prevent us from making a move that would take us away from the situation that is unhealthy for us. It can be a vicious circle, but it is one that you can choose to escape from, crystal ball or not.
You need to decide to change the circumstances you are in and that can be a very scary thing to do when you are in the midst of a yucky time of your life. You know that things are rotten and yet feel unable to open the escape hatch and get the hell out of dodge because of what is on the other side – the fear of the unknown.
Some people prefer to stay right where they are because they self-identify with the person they are while in the midst of their suffering. They are familiar with who they are under those set of circumstances. However, they cannot imagine who they would be without these negative aspects in their life. That person is unfamiliar and it feels uncomfortable to imagine who they would be without the challenges they are facing.
Taking that leap into the unknown and unfamiliar feels scarier than the situation you are currently in; so it feels easier to stay put and the dysfunctional cycle starts all over again.
Nothing changes and your mental health and overall well-being will continue to suffer.
Facing the unfamiliar and stepping into the unknown is undoubtedly difficult and it takes courage to make the decision and incorporate the changes that will lead you down a path that is new to you. Doing so will open doors that were previously closed to you and will provide you with opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment that you may have only dreamed of.
A number of my clients have summoned up the courage to step beyond their self-imposed limits and a whole new and wonderful life opened up for them. From pursuing MBA’s to leaving soul sucking jobs for new careers, to breaking up miserable relationships and finding themselves again, to going the IVF route and finally having the baby they have always wanted are just a few examples.
All of these life adjustments required courage and an undeniable wish to change things for the better and to pursue their heartfelt calling – facing the fear and doing it anyway because going back to what was familiar was not the best option for them.
The leap does not have to be huge, it can start with a small step by asking yourself the question; “What if …?”
Sticking with the “familiar” is a great thing when it lends itself to a deep feeling of contentedness and we don’t feel the need to run away from it because it has positive effects on our sense of self.
However, staying with what is “familiar” can be a negative thing when relationships and external circumstances around it cause harm to you (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually).
In this case, it is time to seek your escape route and go with it, even if the route itself is unknown, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Surround yourself with people and circumstances that will support you in your new endeavor.
Incorporating the uncomfortable and unfamiliar things into your life situation will enable you to find more peace and joy in the long term and the likelihood of feeling more content in your life.
Gone are the days of waking up and listening to the broken record, stuck and replaying the same tune over and over again.
Seek what is unfamiliar.
Go for what feels uncomfortable.
Be open to what life has in store for you.