Many times in life we know we should give up a habit, walk away from a toxic relationship, or change the way we think about something but we just can’t seem to do it. It’s easier to stay where we are, stuck in our rut of repetitive thinking, wallowing in angst, and staying miserable. If you’re ready to break out of old ways of doing things and take a step forward – even a small step – use these four steps to help you.
Abandon the situation voluntarily
One of the biggest challenges when walking away from something difficult and sometimes painful is to know that you’ve made the decision; you’ve walked away by choice and by doing that you’re saying “no” to something while also saying “yes” to something new. Society pressures you to be strong and move on quickly but deep down you need time to feel and process the emotional fall out of the situation. Without this time you may be able to physically move on but potential pain, regret, and anger can linger. Remember to stay honest about your feelings and give yourself permission to work through them during the breakup process.
• How do I feel about leaving this situation?
• How can I allow myself to feel all the emotions I’m feeling without fear of judgment from others?
• What would I like to feel once I’ve left this situation?
• What am I saying “yes” to by voluntarily abandoning this situation?
Take immediate action
Taking immediate action will show others (and yourself) that you’re serious about making a change. By taking immediate action, you set the wheels of change in motion and point yourself toward the “yes” you identified in the prior section. Remember that taking action can mean adopting a new way of thinking, shifting your perspective, physically removing yourself from a place, or communicating a new limit or boundary with another person.
• What action do I most need to take to move me toward my new “yes”?
• What small actions can I take every day for the next 7 days to help me feel as though I’m making progress?
• What new thoughts and habits do I need to develop to help me make progress?
• How can I keep myself motivated and focused?
Be an apprentice adventurer
Once you’ve decided to move toward your new “yes” think of yourself as an apprentice; you’re gathering information, practicing new habits, and learning new ways of living or working. Instead of trying for perfection or letting inevitable setbacks derail your progress, think of yourself as an explorer of new territory – physical, mental, emotional, and maybe even spiritual. By shifting your perspective to one of learning and adventure you can keep yourself in a more positive mindset when things don’t go quite as you’d planned.
• What do you hope to learn by leaving your situation and moving toward your new “yes?”
• What do you think will be your toughest lesson on your journey?
• In what ways will you need to let go of perfection / expectations of yourself and others to get the most out of your adventure?
• Who can you turn to for wisdom or mentorship as you move toward your new “yes?”
Be patient as you find your way
On your journey there will be times when will want to give up. You may feel as though your hands are tied, you’re blindfolded, and you can’t see your way because you’re lost in the dark. It’s during these times that you need to use the power of your mind to integrate kindness, patience, and understanding with yourself, all while maintaining actions that sustain your momentum. By using rational thought, focusing on the essence of how you want to feel in your new state of “yes” (as opposed to a specific place or job title), you can think through various alternatives and get unstuck.
• What actions can you take (rest, rejuvenation, leisure) to be kind to yourself on your journey?
• What new thoughts and habits can you form that will allow you to be more patient with yourself and others?
• What can you do to calm your mind when you find yourself overthinking something?
• How can use your mind to help you build resilience and perseverance along your journey?
By learning to balance your emotions, take action, study with curiosity, and manage your thoughts you can leave a tough situation behind and ultimately feel good about it. As the end of the year draws closer what do you need to start saying yes to that will ultimately set you up to have a brighter and healthier 2017?