Sometimes we don’t realise what a hard time we give ourselves for just being us and making the decisions that we need to. We expect the tough decisions to give us instant gratification even though we may have taken a long time to make those decisions in the first place and we can fall into the trap of expecting ‘perfect’ choices and decisions with no trade-offs or tricky aspects. We can end up beating ourselves up for the very choice we just made and then start pawing at the proverbial choice window that doesn’t work for us but suddenly appears to represent the grass being greener on the other side.
The trade-offs we’re faced with are the compromises we make with ourselves when we make choices – in choosing one path, we may have to let go of certain things or find different ways to tick our own boxes. Just like when we compromise with someone else, the compromises we make with ourselves shouldn’t leave us feeling that we’re at a loss / being screwed over, otherwise we lose faith in ourselves and possibly rebel and sabotage.
You need to find a solution you can live with and that involves having the willingness and self-esteem to gain enough self-knowledge to understand what your values, needs, expectations etc are in the first place.
Relationships provide invaluable insight into understanding who we are and what we need, especially when they’re unhealthy. Instead of giving you a hard time about leaving a relationship that lacked love, care, trust and respect that you only stayed in because you felt lonely and afraid of starting over, it’s recognising that yes you would like a relationship, no you wouldn’t want to continue being treated that way and that yes, you will find healthier ways to scratch the loneliness itch and understand where your feelings stem from so that you don’t end up accepting crumbs and feeling lonely in the relationship anyway.
Recognising the trade-offs means having the willingness and insight to recognise the benefits that stem from your choices. People complain to me about having boundaries (seriously) as if they’re some pesky pain in the bum cockblocker ruining their lives.
If you’re struggling with understanding your choices and the possible trade-offs that come with them, it’s important to clear away the bullshit and get clear on:
- What you’re choosing.
- Why you’re choosing it (or why you’re choosing not to choose something else).
- What comes with the choice.
If you don’t understand your choice and the genuine benefits of it as opposed to the bullshit benefits, you won’t accept, respect and ultimately live your choice because you’ll be too busy griping about and undermining it. It’s this simple reason why some people find it hard to walk away from a toxic relationship – they haven’t drilled down the theory into relatable reasons as to why it would make a good choice for them to walk away. It’s all very well for instance, to decide to go No Contact (NC) but if your reasons for going NC are whack and you have little clue as to the short, medium and long-term benefits to you and why it’s not a choice that respects you or your needs if you continue, it won’t be long until you’re off the wagon.
It’s also hard for a good choice to seem like a good choice if you don’t think you’re a good choice.
Making good choices for you needs to have some worth behind it but as I’ve discovered from personal experience, you can start to feel like a person of value by making the tough decisions, gritting your teeth, trusting the process and trying to get to know and like you at the same time – not actually as hard as it may sound when you stop fighting you and/or get tired of same old, same old.
The trade-off for not having boundaries is that you don’t get to have a say in your own life because you have a passive response.
The trade-off for being in a relationship is that if you want it to go anywhere, you have to be willing to be a bit vulnerable so that together there is commitment, intimacy, balance, progression etc. Sure you could argue that it’s scary or that you won’t be able to do exactly what you want 24/7, but you’re only going into a relationship, not signing up to be a Siamese twin which means you could find a way to have a mutual relationship and continue to be and do the things that interest you.
Giving you a hard time about your choices can be an attractive prospect because it makes it easy to do something that every decision avoider is very good at – fantasising.
Instead of being proactive, you get to beat you up for not living the fantasy you think that you want because the current choice is now determined to be ‘failure’ or an inadequacy on your part. It’s got nothing to do with your worth as a person and everything to do with the facts of life – we all have to have our priorities and make choices. None of us are exempt.
Your values tell you what your priorities are and if you try to have it all without recognising where some may be competing with or even in direct conflict, you’ll wind up unhappy. It’s up to you to work out your priorities – not everything can be of the same importance or be done at the same time.
I hear from quite a few people who really want to have some time out for themselves and they end up beating themselves up for not being in a relationship – being single isn’t a failure or a shortcoming. Embrace your choice and when you’re ready to try again, do so because it’s what you want to do instead of out of fear/desperation/loneliness/trying to keep up with the Jones’ because that’s how you end up in a shady relationship.
Whatever choice you make, it’s time to recognise that with choices comes responsibility but also comes good feeling from those choices when you’re in the driving seat of your own life. If you spend too much time giving you a hard time about not living the dream (it’s called a dream for a reason…), you don’t get to live your life.
PS The new Baggage Reclaim Shop is now open with mugs, badges, magnets and more to come!