“Doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” The immortal words of Einstein are ones which we are all familiar with; ones which we nod along with and use to placate those who seem intent on repeating their mistakes. But how many of us take note of these words with one hand, and continually repeat the things which make us unhappy in the other? Whether it is staying in a bad relationship, struggling to stick at an unsuitable job, or surrounding ourselves with people who do not make us happy, knowing when to walk away can be a difficult call to make.
As human beings, we are creatures of habit. We surround ourselves with the familiar, and are often reluctant to leave our personal comfort zones. While this may seem safe and secure, in actual fact this can fill our lives with negativity- both intentional and unintentional – and result in us putting our own needs at the back of the queue to make those around us happy. Pushing our personal boundaries, taking risks and chances, and evaluating our surroundings can put things into perspective, and allow peace and positivity to take the place of self-doubt, worrying and people pleasing.
This is something I have recently had first hand experience of, when I hit a rut in my life. I was in a job I didn’t particularly enjoy, and engaging and interacting with people who did not necessarily have my best interests at heart. the problem? I was fine. My job wasn’t stimulating or engaging, but the people were nice, it was easy and it paid the bills. My daily social interactions were pleasant enough, if people were unpleasant I simply let it go, and didn’t challenge or question it too much. At the centre of my soul, however, I was unhappy, and I knew something had to change. I ignored that niggly instinct for months, until one day I finished my shift, walked out of the door, and realised in shock that I had been so deeply on autopilot, I could barely remember anything I had done. I was existing, not living, and it was time to make a change, and not being one to do things by halves I immediately started researching teaching jobs halfway across the world. While I am not suggesting that you take such an extreme reaction, there is a lot to be said in knowing when to walk away. If you have that niggly feeling just above your belly button (you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you have it!) here are some simple steps you can take to reevaluate the situation.
Meditate, meditate, meditate
I cannot stress enough the value of meditation in my life. It is something I used to be extremely strict about, but fell off the wagon when I fell into a routine, and boy did I pay for it! My mind became cluttered and stuffy, my anxiety increased about tenfold and I was constantly tearful and irritable, with a million and one things racing through my mind, and nowhere to put them. Meditating allowed my inner subconscious to speak to me; and she is a lot more sensible than my conscious mind! Just sitting quietly, and listening to your own thoughts is sometimes enough to confirm what you already know.
If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be? Don’t worry about money, qualifications, family or commitments, just write or draw whatever comes into your head when I ask you this question. This can help you to realise that you have dreams and aspirations, and can be a very motivating place to start. The practicalities will come, but first you have to dream.
Evaluate the people in your life from a strangers perspective
There are people in my life who I absolutely no question couldn’t live without: my Mum, my brother, and a very small selection of very close, special friends. Every single one of these people teaches, inspires and supports me every single day, calls me out when my behaviour is unacceptable, holds me accountable for my actions, and can be counted upon to answer the phone at 3am. They boost me up, cheer on my ambitions and dreams, and take pride in my achievements. This wasn’t always the case: I used to surround myself with people who would belittle me, subtly mock my ideas, compare themselves and me to others, constantly stress what was lacking or wrong, and generally brought a lot of negative energy to my life. But they were ‘fine.’ These comments were insidious, and they could be a laugh sometimes. So it was ‘fine.’ It took a lot of soul searching and painful questioning to realise this, and to learn to let go of those negative attachments, but I can honestly say it is one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I now have time in my life for people who bring out the best in me, and I can do the same for them.
Knowing when to walk away can be incredibly tough, but it is also one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn. It is easy to settle, to be ok, to be ‘fine,’ but the easy option is often not the one which is best for our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Taking the time to reevaluate a situation, have an honest conversation with yourself, and question everything can truly set you free. And that is something we all deserve.
Jodie is an eternal student whose greatest joy is learning and asking too many questions. She usually prefers animals to people, and enjoys art, the outdoors, deep conversations and the power of positivity.