Relationships are an intricate web woven with delicate threads of individuality, courage and commitment. A dance of love dedicated to uniting two people in a tangle of emotional, physical and energetic weavings that can move one from the giddy wave of drunken love to raging resentments that fuel disconnection and dysfunction, from primordial passions blind of reason to steaming stores of irrational anger.
Relationships are intense. They take work. Effort. Energy. Desire. Desire and intentionality toward being in union with another person and it being a supportive, positive experience for the most part.
Relationships, like the saying “when it’s good, it’s very good, when it’s bad, it’s very bad” indicate, have the power to be superbly satisfying when they work and utterly atrocious when they don’t. And should the bad outweigh the good, we can find ourselves in a complex inner struggle with the right and wrong of calling it a day.
So, how do you know when to call it a day? How do you know when, in the throes of loving another, to draw a line and say “hey, everything is okay, but the time has come for us to go on our separate ways”?
How do you know when the time is right to make a choice that will forever change your life and the lives of those around you?
Ziad K. Abdelnour said, “The hardest decision in life is whether to ‘walk away’ or ‘try harder”. And quite often these words prove true. So, let’s unpack it.
I’ve always been the “try harder” kind of girl, always willing to bear the responsibility and take the “try harder” route. The never give up, never give in, route. The route that says, let’s find a way. The plead the plight or fight the fight for what you want to receive and experience route. The route of walking the talk believing it will all pay off one day.
And yet, the truth is, there have been multiple; too many; times where life itself has shown me that the “try harder” route is one that never pays off for me, not with the fruits that one desires anyway. Instead, it tends to result in a lengthened, elongated stretch of the inevitable. This route tends to mean a life filled with more struggles, more stress, more strain, and more of the same, even when a time period; number of weeks; of greatness has passed, the inevitable gives way to the way that it truly is, to living life as it always has been or walk away.
Now I don’t know if I’m just plain unlucky in this kind of thing or if what I commit to when it comes to walking the “try harder” route are simply things that I should not give so much time and energy to because upon reflection it does feel like I’m habitual in making the wrong choice when it comes to what I’m willing to try harder at and what I’m willing to walk away from.
Wow, when it comes to unpacking this quote, the personal journey is always the best place to start, because not only does it make room for it to be a cathartic process, but it also makes room for it to be more relatable and significant to your life experiences. Journalling, including video journalling, will help with this.
This might not sound much like an unpacking of this quote, but rather a personal page out of my journal, and maybe it is, but if there is one thing that I have learnt along the way, we can only ever view things, perceive things, from the vantage points and lenses that are our own.
So, let’s explore it some more, hopefully from a diplomatic perspective weighted with emotion or experience, and get curious through the power of questions. How do you know when to ‘walk away’ and when to ‘try harder’?
The best I can offer is the knowingness of what you are willing to, or unwilling to, accept in your life.
Are you willing to accept more of the same in the hopes that one day it will shift?
Are you willing to go through the motions, to try as you might, to do the work and take the actions to see once again if the effort pays off in the form of rewards, in the form of relationship rewards?
Are you no longer willing to accept the same?
Could you be no longer willing and give it one more shot? Perhaps by giving the clearest, most precise directive and boundaries, and ‘try harder’?
And of course, you may well choose to “try harder”, but I’m going to say this…the real question becomes more about who has to try harder? Is it you who must try harder? Is it really you who needs to try harder within the relationship?
This needs to be answered, and answered honestly, because at the end of the day, if it’s not you who has to try harder, but rather the other part of your relationship team, then you have to know that your choice to “try harder” is all but worthless. It means nothing in the face of things because you cannot make another “try harder” just because you want to give it another go, give it room to grow or give it room to be something other than what it has been.
Is it you or is it another, that really must make the decision try harder or walk away? As I write, I am deeply cognizant of the fact that if you feel that you have put in the work, done the work and it still reveals as you needing to try harder, consider that you are the one who has settled, who has been mistreated, stepped on, walked on, made fun of, victimized, scapegoated and any of the rest of the possible ways that speak to you about an imbalance in your relationship. Reflection, self-reflection, is genuinely the only way you will come to a decision to step left or right in your relationship. For all aspects I’ve shared in this piece, self-reflection is your best friend, along with critically analysing your findings; this simply means observing it from the outside without any attachment to emotions or outcomes, to detach in such a way that the emotional or cognitive influence is stilled for the duration of making a decision that best serves and upholds your values.
As a parting gift, and in the abridged words of Iyanla Vanzant, “You cannot make someone love you the way you want to be loved. You simply observe the way they love, and decide if you want to participate in it”. And, my friends, if you know in your heart that another’s love is not aligned with the way you wish to receive love, then for the love and high regard of yourself, draw the line and walk away.
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