The Absolute Kick@$$ Power Of Walking Away
Doing well in life--creatively, career-wise, romantically, academically, financially, raising a family--is challenging, and just plain hard at times. Dedicated time goes directly to worry, stress, negotiation, education, and, thank God, enjoyment, too. Every endeavor is worthy, but sacrificial.
Sacrifice is an act that's celebrated in popular culture, even romanticized, particularly when the sacrifice pays off. Dave Ramsey's, financial author and radio host, message about building personal wealth revolves around sacrifice, as his mantra goes: "Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else." In other words, forego material things now to enjoy the fruits of your labor later, when your peers, having purchased expensive cars, homes, vacations, and electronics at the most productive time in their careers may be struggling to plan for retirement based, in part, on decisions they made in those productive years--years when you were sacrificing.
The message we glean about sacrifice and hard work spills over into relationships with common expressions like: "Anything worth having is worth fighting for" and "Nothing good comes easy." I think these idioms apply beautifully to paying off debt and graduating from college, for example, but what about when your dignity is eroded in the process of fighting for a relationship? What about when what you're sacrificing is your time, sanity, happiness, or your need to be desired, loved, and respected?
Sacrifice is an important value in relationships, but so is knowing when to walk away.
I'm not here to tell you under which circumstances to walk away from a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, or to convince you that walking away is the right thing to do. Life and people are far too complicated for me to get into the minutia of our madness by drawing an uninformed if/then decision chart.
I'm here to tell you about this one thing you can do for yourself that is enormously powerful and transformative if you find yourself in a bad-for-you situation.
Walking away, much like staying put, is an unmistakable declaration to yourself and to others about your worth, your standards, and what you will and won't allow in your life. The ability to walk away emboldens you inside and outside of relationships. From leaving a toxic friendship to walking away from a bad sales deal, when you are unafraid to lose the thing that you hoped for, you aren't a servant to or a prisoner of that thing, but a master over your desires.
Your strength of character is affirmed by walking away. And you grow to trust yourself more and more to do the right thing, even when it's hard.
Let me tell you what I know to be the hardest thing about letting go in a relationship: starting over with no prospects.
On one occasion I walked away from a job (which to me is so much like a relationship) without a prospect in sight.
Here's why I did it: I was burned out. I felt underappreciated. My manager had a lack of empathy for my leaving the office at 9 or 10 p.m. on many nights. But here's what really did it. My job wasn't related to my career future. I was literally burning myself out for nothing. So, without a prospect in sight, I walked away from a lucrative job.
I felt free and powerful and completely in control of my destiny. Although it was disappointing that what I'd hoped for when I first took the job didn't play out as I'd imagined, ultimately, I exercised my power to take my skills elsewhere.
Walking away is as much an act of faith as it is a demonstration of your values and a show of your priorities.
When you are not afraid to lose (even though it's never a loss), you hold the power.
Flex Your Muscle
If you aren't good at letting go, you'll never get good at it unless you practice. Start with learning how to walk away from long-winded conversations or meetings at work (particularly the part at the end where people start asking an insane amount of useless questions). Learn how to walk away from a bad deal. Learn how to walk away from toxic people and situations without guilt, just your sense of freedom.
The more you flex this muscle the more powerful you'll become and the easier it'll be to deal with higher stakes situations.
Whether it's a friendship, a romance, a job, or a deal, don't be afraid to walk away from a situation that is no longer right for you.
You hold the kick-ass power.
Photo credit: Claudia Daggett via CC Flickr