Tags: fear of leaving the relationship, fear of making mistakes, fear of uncertainty, knowing when to fold, resistance, return on investment in relationships, sunk cost

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Believing you’ve put in too much to leave and that to ‘give up’ would be a ‘waste’ is a trap. You stay in a situation long past its sell-by date, blocking you from accepting, grieving and growing.

The thing is, your efforts and experience aren’t a waste. But… you actually start ‘wasting’ these by continuing instead of recognising that it’s time to change course. You’ll call it ‘love, ‘working at your relationship,’ or how life or the job market is tough.

I think, also, that sometimes it feels like so much time has passed that to admit a mistake or that it’s not going to work doesn’t feel like an option. You want to have something to show for your investment, but you also don’t want to face judgement from others.

But it’s not ‘giving up’; you’ve recognised that the conditions you made the original decision in have changed.

Whatever you’re supposed to ‘get’ from this experience, even if it’s not what you intended, you can now use that intel to make and take better informed next steps.

We humans have very fixed ideas about what we think we need and want. It’s only through having a go that we gain the discernment to understand who we truly are. In what is basically us experimenting and putting our hypotheses to the test, we get to ‘update’. Our blind spots, stories and habits are revealed to us, which is all the more reason why we can’t bury our heads in the sand chasing a return on investment.

If you’re holding on tight to a situation because of your investment and the fear of it being a waste, you’re getting things back to front. Nothing is wasted. It’s all life.

No, you can’t rewind the tape and get a do-over, but who you become as a result of navigating life’s joys and challenges, hard as it can be at times, is gain. 

You can’t always see what things are about. It’s only when you’re months or even years down the line when you go, Ahh. OK, that’s what X was all about

Sometimes it costs us more than we anticipated or would like for us to learn what we need to. Us humans would love to know everything in advance and scrape through with as little pain and discomfort as possible! 

It’s also absolutely crucial, though, to acknowledge that your ‘why’ matters. Staying behind to get a return on investment on an already spent cost (known as ‘sunk cost’) means you’re living in the past. It’s not possible to act in your best interests from that place. You miss, for instance, the opportunity to forge a mutually fulfilling relationship elsewhere because you’re too busy betting on a three-legged horse relationship. Or you miss out on being more of who you really are. That’s a bad bet.

If you’re going to stay, stay based on conscious desire and being genuinely invested in the present. Don’t hang about trying to retrieve the good old days from The Beginning when you thought that things were perfect. And definitely don’t hang about trying to make life bend to your will, because that’s a misappropriation of your good qualities.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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