The man in a relationship with a substance abuser; Why does he put up with it?
The employee with the narcissistic boss; There are other jobs, why don’t you apply?
The solutions seem obvious, but what stops us from taking action, especially in a terrible situation?
1) The Familiar Seems Safer Than the Alternative
We’re wired for safety. Anything unknown is potentially dangerous. The survival signal can’t be shut off, and that’s a good thing, but we can strengthen the connection and communication with the ‘higher,’ reasoning part of our brain that is able to dissemble what’s currently happening and incorporate experience with possible potentials. Our tricky survival brain tells us that our potential future, somewhere else, is probably darker, scarier and more negative than our current one. That’s where the ‘work’ comes in. We can envision positive, better future outcomes, but it takes practice.
2) We’re Tired
Change is not for the weary. It takes energy to enact any change. To change direction and then impel momentum requires much. If you’re already bone-weary from enduring your current, intolerable situation, you will be understandably reluctant to embark on a seemingly epic challenge.
Best Steps for Leaving a Terrible Situation
Step One: REST. Rest. Then rest some more. It’s the single most important step.
Step Two: Allow the fear voice, then counter with alternatives, that ‘feel’ possible. Any possibility that feels difficult will just trigger the fear resistance. Starting small is the key.
Step Three: Small, micro-changes. The very smallest change can be a counter-thought. A hopeful thought triggers a chemical reaction in your body, that feels ‘safe’ or good. This is the beginning of actual change. The safer and better you feel, the more likely you will be able to enact an outward, physical change. As soon as you see a hopeful alternative, move toward it.
Step Four: Gather support. You’ve most likely systematically isolated yourself because of pain and shame. Join a support group. Finding others who have been where you are and learning from their journey will help immensely. Get a counsellor, coach, mentor that can walk with you through the process of change and give you non-judgmental support. (Compassionate Witnessing) The most successful people have support ON the journey.
Will you completely eliminate fear? No. But, you will have the inner and outer resources of rest, awareness and support to move in a positive direction.
It’s Difficult to Envision a Happy Future When We’re Alone and Scared
It’s been said that we’ll change when staying in our circumstances feels more painful than the fear of leaving. But in my experience, we’ll take the steps to change our difficult situations when we feel safe, supported and encouraged.
Do You Need Support?
I have been through this.
This is what I do as a coach.
I offer support, relief and information on the journey through difficult circumstances.