Have you ever stayed in a bad situation too long until it finally hits a breaking point where youíre forced to make a decision that is much more dramatic than it had to be? Why do you think it took you so long to make a chance? Do we really like to be miserable, is that it? Are we conditioned as humans to sit in hurt and pain until someone else does something about it?
As humans, we are conditioned to settle into stable jobs, families, friends and hobbies. From grammar school, we must go to high school, to college, get the guy/girl, get a job, buy a house, have some kids, retire and then thatís it. Thatís your life in a nutshell.
But then real life gets in the way and changes all the stable things (or what you thoughts would be stable ideas) in your life. You canít get a good job right out of college. You donít get married right away. Maybe you donít want kids. Is that so bad?
(And if youíre one of those people who have followed the path of college, marriage, house and kids, good for you. Iím not putting that down, I just donít know of many people who have done it.)
Weíre so conditioned to have life a certain way, dreaming of what things should be when weíre young. We get those ideas from our family life, our friendsí lives and the TV. When it doesnít turn out quite the way we expected, we end up in a crisis of faith and a miserable existence. We tolerate way too much to have the life we think we should have, rather then the life we can create.
For example, I have a friend of mine who is in a stressful, hectic job. There is not enough time in the day for him to finish all of his tasks and his boss is a complete nightmare, including belittling and yelling at my friend constantly. He is depressed and is having constant chest pains. Sounds like he should make a change, right?
When I ask him if he is looking for another job, he says he doesnít have time. I even offered to post his resume online and conduct a job search for him. He said heíd get around to it. That was two months ago.
So how does this story end? It has a myriad of possibilities. He could get fired, be granted a leave because of stress related symptoms, quit, give his notice because he has another job, etc, etc. The point is that it seems my friend is sitting in this situation for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is not including his commute, which is over an hour a day. So why isnít he making a change?
The answer is that fear is playing a huge part in his decision. Thatís what is making him miserable - itís the unknown ahead of him. He may find a job that doesnít pay as well or could have even a worse boss. I mean, this job has it perks. He has every holiday off, heís right in the center of a major metropolitan area and the money is pretty good.
So how powerful is fear that it holds him back from making a change that will probably be more positive than negative? Is fear that strong that it will bind us to things, people, events, jobs and so much more?
For most people, yes, it is.
Fear is so powerful that we can live in miserable situations and feelings for decades, not changing anything because of all the reasons we create. We have to pay our mortgage and car payments, kidsí tuition, our gym memberships, and on the list goes. You can call it duty or responsibility but most of the time, if you dig down, youíll find itís that fear that is holding you back.
The interesting concept is that fear is our creation. We hold ourselves back constantly because of what the outcome could be. We hate the unfamiliar and the life that we donít know so we do nothing.
Itís not that we like to be miserable consciously. Itís that we are too afraid to step forward and make a change and take a chance. We couldnít make the right decision for ourselves! Look at all the times Iíve made the wrong decision, for goodness sakes! Making another mistake is far too heart wrenching than the probability that the change we make will create more opportunities and growth than we could ever imagine at this moment.
Iím not saying to throw everything out the window, of course. Consistency has it benefits too. To make an extreme change all at once may backfire and feed the fear for the future.
So whatís the middle ground?
Fear is successful only if it paralyzes you from making a change. If it can hold you in a position that will, over time, make you sad, miserable, depressed, resentful and angry. It could make you feel several of emotions all at once, which creates other problems and stress. So why go there?
Here are some ideas to bring you out of the misery and conquer your fear:
1.) Instead of thinking of everything that can go wrong, how about thinking about everything that can go RIGHT. Positive thoughts and actions actually create a positive momentum for change. Negative thoughts and actions create a standstill.
2.) Have patience! Nothing happens overnight. If you watch any recording artist or a sports figureís interview, youíll see that itís taken then several years to become an overnight sensation. Plants the seeds and know that it takes time to create the growth you need.
3.) Acknowledge your feelings. If youíre feeling miserable, sad or other emotions around a situation, then itís okay to feel them. The danger is wallowing in those feelings. If you notice yourself sitting in them too long, look at ways to move out of them Ė helping someone less fortunate than you is a way to put your life in perspective.
4.) Do something that makes you feel good. Call someone that makes you laugh, read a great book, watch your favorite show, or eat your favorite dessert. No matter how big or small, putting yourself in a more positive state of mind will help you to look at situations differently.
5.) Do your best to manage your stress. While some may say you can totally eliminate stress, itís more realistic to work on managing and controlling your stress. Even doing small steps such as getting some exercise, eat more healthy and getting more rest will give you more coping skills to deal with challenges in your life.
6.) Create supportive environments. Find people, even online, that will be helpful to you to remove those negative feelings or behaviors. Find a motivation buddy to keep you on track of making changes.
7.) Breaking goals into smaller, obtainable tasks will not only set you up for success to check off those tasks but it will help you not be as overwhelmed. For example, instead of saying, ďI have to find a new job as soon as possibleĒ, which again will create fear and misery, say, ďI will look on the web three times a week and network with my friends to see whatís available at companies they work at that I may likeĒ will make it much less daunting.
8.) DO SOMETHING! Itís like trying to move a heavy rock that youíre pushing against. The most you tackle that rock, the more likely that you will one day be able to move it.
Everyone has their bad days but the key is to be aware of you Ė change the misery into miraculous momentum. Youíll be able to look back on your life and say ďHey, why did I stay there so long?Ē. Why wait?