Nearly every day I get emails from women who find themselves in difficult relationships. Their situations are complex and painful leaving them struggling to know what to do. Whatever situation you’re in, you can apply the Resilience Formula which provides you with four choices.
1. Leave the Situation
If you’re in a toxic relationship then sometimes the best solution is to leave. Although this might sound like the simplest approach or even quitting I’m here to tell you that this choice takes great courage. My brother, who left his first wife, said to me once ‘if someone leaves a relationship then it must be really bad because leaving is never something you choose unless you’ve run out of options.’
You need to ask yourself this question ~ would my overall quality of life be better if I left or if I stayed? Of course you can never know the answer to this for certain (it’s a leap of faith) but you get to a point where you can make a reasonable prediction based on what has happened up to this point.
Of course there are many situations you just can’t leave. You might be unwilling to break your wedding vows, you might have children you don’t want to raise on your own, or you might not have enough money to survive on your own. Then you have three other choices.
2. Stay and Change What Can Be Changed
If you choose to stay in a difficult situation then take action to change what can be changed. How do you do this? Use your values to set some goals in order to get closer to the life you want to live.
Values are the things we stand for and are unique to every one of us. They are concepts like truth, love and freedom. Your values may be different to mine, but in relationships they often boil down to these three things
In a relationship we want to engage, participate, to be fully present, conscious, open and involved.
In a relationship we want to treat each other with love, kindness, warmth and respect.
In a relationship we want both parties to support, help out, provide, give, nurture and to share with each other.
In your relationship – are you connecting with each other? Are you engaged in the experience of being together? Do you care about each other? Do you care how your relationship impacts on your life? Are you contributing enthusiasm or curiosity to the relationship? Is this relationship meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling?
If what you hoped your relationship would be is nothing like the relationship you have, what can YOU change? Can you go to marriage counselling, read books about relationships, talk about things more, practice more unconditional love, set boundaries, forgive yourself or find ways to meet your own needs?
Is there one action you can take today to connect, care or contribute more?
3. Stay and Accept What Can’t Be Changed
If you’ve chosen to stay (or you have to) and you’ve taken every possible action to improve the situation, then for the things that can’t be changed you practice acceptance. Accept all the painful feelings and make room for them. Accept that you mind will keep telling you things that are unhelpful so let the negative thoughts come and go without becoming entangled in them. Pull yourself out of the fog and engage fully in life in spite of the challenges you face.
Continue to live by your values. Find other ways to live a life of purpose. Engaging in a creative pursuit (write that book/blog), volunteering (work with the homeless) or improving your other relationships (connect with your friends and family more deeply and more often) will bring more happiness into your life.
We all live imperfect lives and struggling with things we cannot change only makes us feel more miserable. Often just allowing things to be as they makes them improve of their own accord.
4. Stay and Do Things That Make the Situation Worse
We’ve all chosen this option in our lives (and sometimes repeatedly). When we stay in a difficult situation we don’t do everything possible to improve it, we don’t practice acceptance and we give up on our values. Instead we do things that make the situation worse — worry, blame, yell, rant, cry, complain, withdraw or turn to food, drugs, alcohol and self-harm to bury the pain. There is no fulfilment or happiness to be found in option four.
You always have a choice (doing nothing is a choice).
With the freedom to choose comes great responsibility.
→ from The Reality Slap: Finding Peace and Fulfillment When Life Hurtsby Dr Russ Harris.