While there are many benefits to 'staying the course' and to being loyal and committed, sometimes we reach a point where we must 'walk away' from a relationship or situation. We can spend many weeks, months or sometimes even years feeling unsure and undecided about whether to 'stay or go'. So, how can we tell when it is time to walk away?
It was not so very long ago that people were expected to simply 'put up with' their lot in life and it seems that having the ability to do this is still regarded as being a sign of inner strength and fortitude. While sometimes this truly is the case, more often than not the desire to 'stick it out' comes not from inner strength but from feelings of fear.
The list of fears that come up can be quite overwhelming; fear of lack or scarcity, fear of insecurity or loss, fear of nothing better being available, fear of being 'wrong', being judged by others or making a mistake... you get the picture. Our internal fears only get amplified when we think of the old saying 'better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.' Surely it better to have no Devil at all?
This rather popular expression suggests that ultimately we are always caught between a rock and a hard place; that even if we manage to escape some awful reality, there is nothing better available to us so we may as well just 'put up and shut up'. Or, as a rather forthright Headmaster once advised me to do when I was really struggling as a teacher; 'go home, have a stiff drink, then come back tomorrow and get your head down.' 'Ah', I thought to myself, 'so that's where I have been going wrong all my life!'
For better or worse, I have never been able to simply 'put up and shut up' and this has made for a very rocky ride indeed. Although my approach has lead to a somewhat insecure life, when I look back the only thing that ever truly bothered me was the nagging belief that I should somehow be able to 'put up and shut up', and that if I can't then there must be something wrong with me.
The list of 'shoulds' that accompany the 'putting up with it' approach is also very long; should be able to 'stick at it'; should be able to turn a blind eye or ignore unacceptable behaviour, should be able to meet the unrealistic demands and expectations of others, should try harder, work harder, be more accommodating and less sensitive. The question is, where did we all get the idea that if a situation is truly awful that we just need to 'get better' at dealing with it, and if we can't that it means we are not trying hard enough? And who decided that being a 'responsible' adult equals agreeing to put up with 'the Devil' in our jobs and relationships?
Over the last hundred years or so, we have been moving into a more 'liberated' age, a time when people feel compelled to break free of oppression and enslavement. This process is all part of evolution of Humanity which is pushing us more and more urgently toward spiritual freedom. However, until we are ready to fully experience liberation and have found a way to integrate it into our lives, it can seem like all we are doing is trying to run away from something we ought to be able to accept.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Ultimately we are not really 'running away' from anything, we are 'running toward' spiritual freedom and inner peace. However, this process takes time and can make us feel lost and confused. Our soul's call for spiritual liberation usually begins with a strong intolerance for oppression, bullying, double standards, and for unreasonable demands being made on us in exchange for the security of love and/or money. Any intolerance to the endemic abuse of power within our society is not a sign of weakness or irresponsibility, it is a sign that your soul wants to break free.
The closer you get to reaching spiritual freedom, the greater your intolerance of power abuse becomes, however minor, subtle or unintentional. As your inner journey brings you closer to personal liberation, you become increasingly sensitive to how others respond to and affect your energy. While it would be so much easier to function 'normally', the 'normal' lack of sensitivity is actually due to desensitisation caused by thousands of years of oppression and layer upon layer of cultural denial.
Heightened sensitivity and intolerance to oppression is a sign of becoming increasingly unable to live in the 'Old Paradigm' – the abusive hierarchical social order that people have lived under for thousands of years. While it is a challenge for any individual soul to swim against the collective tide, thankfully the collective tide is now turning towards equality and personal freedom. Gone are the days when you are likely to be nailed to a cross or burned at the stake for owning your power or striving towards spiritual freedom – though don't be surprised if you are judged or shamed for it.
If you are trying to decide whether to stick at something or to walk away, you need only ask which option will enable your soul to evolve. Take a step back to check your feelings and listen carefully for any 'shoulds', underlying fears or limiting beliefs that may be holding you hostage. If having done all this you are still not sure, then make an empowered decision to commit yourself fully to your current situation, at least for the time being. And trust that if it turns out that you do need to walk away, in time it will become absolutely crystal clear – just as soon as you are ready.