Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
– Tony Robbins
Over time, there have been millions of couples who have stayed in an unsatisfying relationship due to the fear and uncertainty of change.
We love the comfort of familiarity. And many of us are willing to stay in this comfort zone even when the familiar doesn’t feel good and we long for something better.
But when the pain of staying in an unfulfilling relationship outweighs the fear and confusion of thinking about leaving, that’s when change is bound to happen.
Do you feel like the scales are tipping in that direction for you?
How to Stop Procrastinating
If you’ve been wanting to make changes in your relationship, the first thing I recommend is to make a commitment to yourself to stop procrastinating and start making changes.
We all procrastinate sometimes, but if you find yourself regularly putting off what you know you need to do—especially if following through will improve the quality of your life—there’s no sane reason to procrastinate.
The key word here is sane. Because your monkey mind will surely give you all sorts of “good reasons” as to why you need to put things off … “just for now.”
But when that now turns into later, and that later turns into never, you’re missing out on your life!
When it comes to making emotionally-charged and difficult changes, I encourage you to start with simple baby steps, like journaling about the changes you’d like to make, or researching books, workshops or professionals that can help you.
The more you commit to taking these baby steps, the greater confidence and trust you’ll build with yourself, and the greater clarity you’ll gain about how to continue moving forward.
What You Resist Persists
Because procrastination is directly related to some type of avoidance or resistance, I’d like to share with you this simple yet profound lesson about how to effectively deal with resistance and empower yourself to stop putting off what you know you need to do.
Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.”
– Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
That’s the reality of what’s needed if you want to take responsibility for your life.
Choosing to take responsibility for your experience of life means you are in the driver’s seat. You are responsible for moving in the direction of your desired destination.
You’ll certainly have “passengers” who will tell you which turns to make, how fast to drive, or even what kind of vehicle to use to take you there, but ultimately it’s up to you to make those choices.
Right now, you may not be exercising the right to make those choices. Something is holding you back from taking the steering wheel. Or you don’t feel you have the right to tune out the passengers clamoring in your ear. Or you just don’t feel you have the energy to get to your destination. That’s what I call resistance.
Part of you knows you’re not happy with the status quo and you want something better … but a different part of you resists the idea of change. It tries to keep you where you are and feeling safe in the familiar.
When this internal tug-of-war goes on for too long, it feels exhausting! But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Take Your Power Back
Whenever you meet resistance in any situation, you have 3 options.
(Well, technically, you have 4 options. But the 4th option—refusing to accept the situation but doing nothing to change it—just keeps you in your existing cycle of pain and frustration.)
Option #1: Remove yourself from the situation.
If you’re feeling resentful and on the edge of losing your mind, this option probably sounds awfully tempting.
But for most this is the very last option, because they’re committed to trying everything within their power to make the relationship work before giving up on it.
Option #2: Change it.
What can you do to change the quality of your relationship?
First you have to identify the problem, and then find a course of action to address it. Have you tried:
- Improving the lines of communication?
- Finding more ways to spend quality time together?
- Learning to speak each other’s love language?
- Learning how to forgive and let go of resentment?
- Setting healthy boundaries that will create a sense of mutual respect?
- Any other changes that are needed to make your relationship work?
Change can’t happen just by thinking about it. Change requires taking positive action and making a real shift … or at least doing your part.
Option #3: Accept it totally.
This may be the hardest option.
For example, let’s say you’ve already tried to make the changes you desire, but haven’t seen the results. Maybe that’s due to your partner’s unwillingness to meet you halfway. Or perhaps both of you are doing your best, but still not getting where you want to go. Or maybe other circumstances beyond your control are impeding the progress of change.
The point is, you’ve tried to change the situation, but it’s just not happening. And let’s say removing yourself from the situation is not an option for you, for whatever reason. So now you’re left with the option of accepting it.
But it’s REALLY HARD to accept something you don’t like or want. Why would you do that? Because if you resist it, you’re creating internal struggle.
If you can’t accept it for what it is, there will always be a part of you that’s screaming, “No, I don’t want this!” and that part of you will always feel frustrated and defeated.
If those negative feelings go on for too long, it can lead to resentment and/or depression.
This is why you MUST choose one of the 3 options above.
If you’re choosing to take responsibility for the quality of your life, then you must make responsible choices, which includes not engaging in things that create continuous stress in your life.
Of course you have the option to resist what you don’t want, which is the 4th option I mentioned. Of course you have the option to let go of the steering wheel and let external forces take control of your life. Of course you have the option of being unhappy. But I’m pretty sure you don’t want that!
Putting Acceptance Into Practice
Here’s a simple example we can all relate to:
You’re on your way to your favorite yoga class, or to meet a friend, or to do something that you’re looking forward to. You allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and to get there in good time. Then, after you get on the road, you realize there’s been an accident. Traffic is backed up and you’re not moving forward.
In this situation, it is incredibly easy to get irritated. “Darn it,” you think, “Why is this happening right NOW? I planned for this and gave myself plenty of time. Now I’m going to be late!” Your body goes into stress mode. You’re losing your patience. Within minutes of feeling happy anticipation about what you had planned to do, you’re meeting resistance and feeling frustrated.
Can you remove yourself from the situation? No. You’re stuck in traffic and can’t move until it moves.
Can you change it? No. It’s already happened, and now it just needs to be handled.
Can you accept it? Yes! It won’t be easy, but this is the only option if you want to avoid frustration. It doesn’t mean you’ll feel happy about the situation, but you can feel neutral—neither happy nor unhappy—just it is what it is.
That’s a very simple example of a scenario where acceptance is the best option. In another scenario, one of the other options may be preferable.
No matter the situation, if you want to avoid the stress of resistance, frustration and unhappiness, you must take Eckhart’s advice:
You must choose one of those three options and you must choose it now.”
Are You Ready to Stop the Pain?
So, is the pain of staying in an unfulfilling relationship greater than the pain of change?
If your answer is yes, are you ready to stop that pain?
I can help. Learn more about my HEALTHY Path Program, a step-by-step process that provides a clear solution to the predicament of, “Should I stay or should I go?”
You can also watch my interview with Your Brilliance where I share tips on how to have that tough conversation with him and get the clarity you need to make a decision.