Is the Pain of Staying the Same Greater Than the Pain of Change?

Author and life coach Tony Robbins has a famous quote that says: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

This quote is famous for a reason, and I know most of the human race can relate, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.

Over time, there have been millions of couples who have stayed in an unsatisfying relationship due to the fear and uncertainty of change. We love the comfort of familiarity, and many of us are willing to stay in this comfort zone even when the familiar doesn’t feel good and we long for something better.

But when the pain of staying in an unfulfilling relationship outweighs the fear and confusion of ‘should I stay or go?’, that’s when change is bound to happen. If you feel like the scales are tipping in that direction for you, and you’re ready to stop procrastinating, you’re going to love this week’s message!

How to Stop Procrastinating
If you’ve been wanting to make changes in your relationship, but have avoided doing so through procrastination and other self-sabotaging behavior, the first thing I recommend is to make a commitment to yourself to stop procrastinating and start making changes.

We all procrastinate sometimes, but if you find yourself regularly putting off what you know you need to do, especially if following through will improve the quality of your life, there’s no sane reason to procrastinate.

The key word here is sane. Because your monkey mind will surely give you all sorts of ‘good reasons’ as to why you need to put things off…‘just for now’. But when that now turns into later, and that later turns into never, you’re missing out on your life!

When it comes to making emotionally-charged and difficult changes, I encourage you to start with simple baby steps, like journaling about the changes you’d like to make, or researching books, workshops or professionals that can help you.

The more you commit to taking these baby steps, the greater confidence and trust you’ll build with yourself, and the greater clarity you’ll gain about how to continue moving forward.

What You Resist Persists
Because procrastination is directly related to some type of avoidance or resistance, I’d like to share with you this simple, yet profound, lesson about how to effectively deal with resistance and empower yourself to no longer put off what you know you need to do.

The following words are from Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now:

“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.”

The tone of “you must” might feel like he’s dictating, but he’s simply stating the reality of what’s needed if you want to take responsibility for your life. Choosing to take responsibility for your experience of life means you are in the driver’s seat – you are responsible for moving in the direction of your desired destination.

You’ll certainly have ‘passengers’ who will tell you which turns to make, how fast to drive, or even what kind of vehicle to use to take you there, but ultimately it’s up to you to make those choices.

So when the quality of your romantic relationship feels less than desirable, but you’re avoiding needed changes, you’re dealing with resistance. And the pain and discomfort caused from this resistance is due to the internal tug-of-war going on inside of you.

Part of you knows that you’re not happy with the status quo and you want something better. And a different part of you resists the idea of change and tries to keep you where you are and feeling safe in the familiar.

When this internal tug-of-war goes on for too long, it feels exhausting! But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Take Your Power Back
Expanding upon Eckhart Tolle’s words above, whenever you meet resistance in any situation that causes you to feel defeated, anxious, upset, etc., you have three options.

Well, technically, you have four options. But the fourth option just keeps you in your existing cycle of pain and frustration, so let’s explore the other three options and break them down one by one.

Option #1: Remove yourself from the situation. If you’re feeling resentful and on the edge of losing your mind, this option probably sounds awfully tempting. BUT, if you’re committed to trying everything within your power to make the relationship work before going your separate ways, removing yourself before trying your best would be the last option. This is a personal decision only you can make. However, before choosing this option, let’s see if you’ve exhausted your efforts for the other two.

Option #2: Change it. What can you do to change the quality of your relationship? First you have to identify the problem, and then find a course of action to address it. Here are some basic ideas for the most common relationship issues:

  • Improve the lines of communication.
  • Find more ways to spend quality time together and connect.
  • Learn to speak each other’s love language (think Gary Chapman).
  • Learn how to forgive and let go of resentment.
  • Set healthy boundaries that will create a sense of mutual respect.
  • Whatever other changes that are needed to make your relationship work.

And this doesn’t mean just thinking about change. It means taking positive action and making the change…or at least doing your part.

Option #3: Accept it totally. This may be the hardest option. For example, let’s say you’ve already tried to make the changes you desire, but haven’t seen the results. Maybe that’s due to your partner’s unwillingness to meet you halfway. Or perhaps both of you are doing your best, but still not getting where you want to go. Or maybe other circumstances beyond your control are impeding the progress of change. The point is, you’ve tried to change the situation, but it’s just not happening. And let’s say removing yourself from the situation is not an option for you, for whatever voluntary or involuntary reason. So now you’re left with the option of accepting it.

But it’s really hard to accept something you don’t like or want, right?!! Why would you do that? Because if you resist it, you’re creating internal struggle. If you can’t accept it for what it is, there will always be a part of you that’s screaming, ‘No, I don’t want this!’, and that part of you will always feel frustrated and defeated.

If feelings of frustration and/or defeat go on for too long, this leads to resentment and/or depression. And THIS is why you must choose one of those three options.

If you’re choosing to take responsibility for the quality of your life, you must make responsible choices, which includes not engaging in things that create continuous stress in your life.

Of course you have the option to resist what you don’t want, which is the fourth option I mentioned. Of course you have the option to let go of the steering wheel and let external forces take control of your life. Of course you have the option of being unhappy. But I’m pretty sure you don’t want that!

Putting This Into Practice
Here’s a simple example we can all relate to: You’re on your way to your favorite yoga class, or to meet a friend, or to do something that you’re looking forward to. You allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and to get there in good time. Then, after you get on the road, there’s been an accident. Traffic is backed up and you’re not moving forward.

In this situation, it is incredibly easy to get irritated. Damn it, you think, why is this happening right NOW? I planned for this and gave myself plenty of time, and now I’m going to be late! Your body goes into stress mode, you’re losing your patience, and within minutes of feeling happy anticipation about what you had planned to do, you’re meeting resistance and feeling frustrated.

Can you remove yourself from the situation? No. You’re stuck in traffic and can’t move until it moves.

Can you change it? No. It’s already happened and now it just needs to be handled.

Can you accept it? Yes! It won’t be easy, but this is the only option if you want to avoid frustration. It doesn’t mean you’ll feel happy about the situation, but you can feel neutral – neither happy nor unhappy – just it is what it is.

That’s a very simple example of a scenario where acceptance is the best option. In another scenario, one of the other options may be preferable. And in many scenarios, the other options are essential in order to live a fulfilling life.

The point is, no matter the scenario, if you want to avoid the stress of resistance, frustration and unhappiness, “you must choose one of those three options and you must choose it now”.

I remember when I first read those words by Eckhart Tolle years ago. And I remember them hitting me pretty hard.

I had been resisting so many things in my life and felt powerless as a result. This lesson gave me my power back by showing me how I had been creating my own pain.

That certainly wasn’t on purpose – I just wasn’t aware of my options back then. But now, when I find myself resisting something, I can’t deny that I am creating my own stress. And my mind is usually quick to return to the wisdom of this lesson.

Learning that lesson has helped me avoid a lot of unnecessary stress over the years. I hope this inspires you to do the same!

Are You Ready to Stop the Pain?
So, is the pain of staying in an unfulfilling relationship greater than the pain of change?

If your answer is yes, are you ready to stop that pain?

If you’re answer is yes, I encourage you to take advantage of a free 30-minute Breakthrough Session, and give yourself permission to accept the guidance and support of an experienced relationship coach.

This risk-free opportunity is a way for you to know if I am the right coach for you and your goals, and for me to know if you’re ready to do what’s required to make real and effective changes for the better.

Schedule Your FREE Breakthrough Session now!

The women I work with have experienced great shifts in their lives and relationships. Most of them have said they felt relieved, supported and revived after our work together – others said they regained a sense of hope in a hopeless situation and found the path that felt right for them.  

I’ve helped hundreds of women uncover and heal their emotional blocks so that they can experience what they truly desire in their lives. You can read what my clients experience here.

To support you in experiencing all that you desire this year, when you sign up for one of the coaching packages I offer – and book by February 1, 2018 – you’ll save $100.

Schedule your free Breakthrough Session today, and let’s get you on the path to experiencing a life you love living and a relationship you love being in!

Stay tuned for more mindful messages and other valuable resources – giving you helpful insights, tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!

With love and support,

Catherine Dietz
Healthy Relationship Coach