“You aren’t torn. You’re only just afraid” – Cheryl Strayed
As a therapist a lot of people come to me wondering what they should do about their current situation. It may be that they are in an unhappy relationship. Perhaps they are unfulfilled with their current job. Maybe they want to move away. Most of the time the people sitting in front of me know what they want to do, they are just scared to do it.
We’re scared to leave an unhappy relationship because what if we never find another person. We’re scared to leave an unfulfilling job because we need to pay the bills. We’re scared to move away because what if we don’t like the new place. What’s worse to me is: What if you live out the rest of your life unhappy and scared because you live under the illusion that it is safer this way.
Nothing about living life is safe. That’s the real scary part about this game – you and everyone you know will die. Billionaires will die, celebrities will die, pastors, priests, nuns, good people, bad people, young people, babies, all of us are going to die. We think if we make all the right choices we’ll never die and no one will get hurt (delusional thinking). I’m not sure if we are consciously aware of why we try to make the safest choices but that’s my theory. If I just hide out here (safe and miserable) pain will leave me alone (whatever that means).
We tend to take the good in our lives for granted. Before you make a big change you should step back and explore your options. I often recommend that people look at what other job opportunities are out there before quitting their current job. In doing that, some people gain a new appreciation for their current position (I do get compensated well, I have a lot of time off, my boss is pretty flexible). Also, before you end a relationship imagine being single. Try and imagine what would happen if your partner left you. Would you desperately beg them back? How would it feel to not have that person in your life anymore. Instead of making a big change, try first, appreciating what you have. Sometimes when you do this you realize how good you have it.
If you’ve done this and you still think (in your gut) you need to make a change. Go on! Of course, one should not impulsively quit their job and spend all their money living in Paris for a month (maybe that’s what my partner and I did and it worked out okay but I’m not recommending it) .
So, what if it doesn’t work out? You try again. If you quit your job for another job and you don’t like your new job, you look for another job. If you don’t find another partner right away, take your time enjoying the company of friends, meeting and dating people, and exploring what you like to do with your alone time. If you move away and you don’t like the new place, move back to the old place or try another place.
A person can not live a life without regrets. There just is not enough time and resources to do all the we want to do. We have to be honest with ourselves and seek out the life that best fits what we want. When I worked with people at the end of their lives, the regrets that hit the hardest were when they did not live a life true to themselves. Whether or not we want to accept the truth, we know in our guts when we are not being true to ourselves.
Bottom line: There is no safe way to do this so go out there and live life.
“I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.”
― Steve Goodier