Have you ever had a friend who has stayed in a horrifically dysfunctional relationship, and thought, “Why doesn’t she leave him?” Maybe you’ve had a friend who has done the same with a work situation. This friend constantly complains about his boss, his coworkers and even the daily tasks. There’s nothing redeeming about the job, yet he stays.
Why don’t they get out? Fear. Humans, by nature, fear change. Once you become comfortable with any situation, it will begin to feel less threatening to you to maintain the status quo than it will to push the limits — even though pushing the limits is exactly what you need to do. In my book Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, I teach readers how to do this.
Most of us fear change to some degree and take steps to avoid it. The more you stay put, however, the more your fear of change will build and the harder it will become for you to move forward. Conversely, the more you nudge yourself forward, the easier it will become for you to embrace future change.
Yes, in the short term, change is stressful. It won’t be easy to leave a job with a regular paycheck or a relationship you’ve been in for years. The unfamiliar will feel scary and stressful. This will be difficult. But the payoff is huge. Finding the courage to face the short-term stress of change removes you from having to endure the long-term misery of staying stuck. In other words: Short-term stress is better than long-term misery.
In addition to fear, there is probably at least one other factor that is holding you back. Despite how bad your situation is, you are probably benefiting from it in some way. For instance, people stay in unfulfilling jobs because they know the routine, are comfortable with the salary, and know how to work the system to some degree. If they leave, they must learn the ropes all over again and, for many people, that thought is daunting. So this secondary gain proves to be a huge benefit from the otherwise unhealthy behavior.
People stay in bad relationships because, in part, it allows them to avoid dating. They don’t have to worry about meeting and dealing with all of the other jerks they don’t know, and they don’t have to open themselves up to rejection. They can just deal with the one jerk already in their lives. After all, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.
If you’ve become comfortable being uncomfortable then it’s high time to act. It’s time to get what you really want in life and not just settle for what might feel safe and comfortable right now.
Originally published at www.inc.com