Raise your hand if you’ve ever stayed with a lover longer than you should have — and by should have, I mean longer than was in your best interests.
Past the point where you knew, when you were being honest with yourself, that it had long been time to move on.
Or maybe it was a job you used to love that no longer had you feeling valued or inspired, or a friendship that somewhere along the way became more one-sided than you’d ever have cared to admit.
Hell, it might have even been that monthly subscription box you used to eagerly anticipate, whose contents you no longer even liked or used yet month after month instead of cancelling, you continued to watch its cost get debited from your account.
It’s pretty common, right — to stay with something past the point at which it still brings you joy or continues to feel good? Some even call it noble.
We tend to cheer those who stay and vilify those who go — regardless of what the lived conditions of either scenario actually look or feel like. As if there could ever be only one right and one wrong choice to be made in anything, ever.
To be clear, I’m not saying I think we should all leave as soon as the going gets tough or the sparkle starts to fade.
The definition of what’s “in your best interests” may quite rightly include time and space to try, and try again, and try something else, and try again some more.
What’s in your best interests may in fact be to weather a storm… or several.
Either way, what I want to talk about today is the point that comes AFTER all of that, where you’ve given as much or as little as feels fair and right to give, however many or few benefits of doubts and efforts and chances — and in that tender, heartworn space eroded by whatever-sized ALL you’ve given, when you hear that voice and feel that truth and know bone deep that it’s time to move on…
And yet still you stay — ignoring, disputing, or hiding from the aforementioned truth in all sorts of clever and creative (though perhaps largely unconscious) ways.
That’s what’s on my mind today — the part where we stifle truth and stay when it’s in our best interests to go.
What that looks like for each of us is different. For me it’s looked, among other things, like:
- Knowing four weeks into a relationship that it had run its course… yet choosing to stay for approximately 476 more
- Continuing to participate in friendships that stopped feeling fulfilling… because no one else got me like that person used to, or because shared histories are tough to let go, or because some of this kind of fun is better than none at all
- Staying in jobs and roles and relationships for far too long that I did well but no longer did me well anymore
- Choosing to settle for little and getting even less, in the name of trying to hold on to the way something used to make me feel
The other day I gained a new insight around WHY I think I’ve stayed longer than I should have in so many of these relationships and experiences — and I wonder if the reason might not be the same in some way for you, too.
NOTE: I absolutely believe in right timing and that we stay as long as we need to learn the lessons we need to learn. This isn’t about judging how long it’s taken in the past, but rather gaining insight that can make similar things take less long going forward, freeing ourselves to learn new lessons every next time.
Oh and for the record, I totally thought I had already figured all this out lol…
I used to think it was fear — of the unknown, of regretting a wrong choice, or of never finding x, y, or z thing again… But come to find out, that wasn’t really it.
I used to think it was guilt — at putting my own needs above someone else’s, at daring to prioritize my own joy and well-being, at the thought of not honoring a commitment I had made… But come to find out, that wasn’t really it either.
At times I even thought it might have been love… But whatever it is, it’s definitely not love.
Most of the time, I thought I was engaging in the very adult-y act of compromise — which felt like a thing to aspire to. Putting aside the intricacies of that discussion, unless there is active and conscious involvement and buy-in from both parties, you’re soon left with all give and no get, and what you thought was compromise has quietly turned into settling.
And although all of these things had played their various parts, none of them were really the reason why I ever chose to stay.
Nope. Every single time I chose to stay with a one or a thing for longer than I deep down knew was in my best interests, I did it out of a mixed up notion of what had made the pairing so great in the first place.
I did it because I forgot how awesome I am. Which is surprising, considering how awesome I know I am and how frequently it crosses my mind :)
Allow me to explain…
Take any one of those things I hadn’t wanted to leave — the reason I hadn’t wanted to leave was inevitably because it had been something special.
And I would become so enamoured with everything that had been special about it — which, to simplify, was basically a collection of wonderful shared experiences and the feelings they created or called up for me.
As I would let the magic in our matchup sweep over me, I would forget how integral a part of the matchup I actually was.
Somehow I would forget what I know to be true: I always bring the awesome.
And if I always bring the awesome, then a big part of what I found so awesome about all these past pairings or partnerships was actually ME.
I know this might sound uncomfortably self-centered, and that we’ve been taught to believe that’s a bad thing to be, but I invite you to set that aside for a moment to see if there’s any truth in this for you, too.
If magic is what happens when well-matched energies connect, souls intertwine and actions align, then you can’t negate your own part in that magic.
YOU are an integral part of the magic you experience.
YOU bring buckets of awesome to the party.
So as awesome and magical as any past party or experience has been… every new party or experience has just as much potential to be just as awesome or magical, if not more so.
YOU + OTHER PEOPLE OR EXPERIENCES = EXPONENTIAL AWESOMENESS
And all the time spent holding space for the possibility of someone or something to be as awesome as they used to be after they’ve clearly shown you that they’re not is just keeping you from connecting with a new someone or thing who’s ready to meet you and your awesomeness where you’re at now.
Sometimes you can “know” a thing, yet still find yourself hung up or held back by it.
What about you, Beautiful Bloom? There’s a lot here — I’d love to know which part spoke most strongly to you, or where your experience differs.