Your “It will get better.” Mentality: It’s not Working

I think we’ve all been there one way or another. We find ourselves in a situation that’s stuck. But, despite spending each day in a loop of stagnation and realizing that it is just that, we think “it will get better“.

Your

I used to be one of those people. I used to be the person that, even though all signs pointed to not going anywhere, still believed that there was something bright and shiny on the other side. No matter how hurt or torn down or trapped by the situation I was, I always found myself looking at the (usually pretty short) list of pro’s versus the (usually very long) list of con’s. A “glass a quarter full” kind of girl.

The Situation

Now, let me break down the setup. I’m not talking about situations where the “it will get better” mentality is helpful, because there are totally times when you need that. Going through the loss of a loved one, overcoming depression, getting to the gym and working out for the first time in three months and feeling like your muscles are being ripped from the bone. For that kind of stuff we need that mentality for survival. Keep it.

I’m talking about when the “it will get better” mentality is hurtful. When this kind of mentality nails us into boxes that we don’t need to be inside of. When the thought “it will get better” prevents us from having thoughts about what we can do to get to the “better” we keep on harping on about.

My “It will get better.” Trap

The situation described above has manifested itself in many different ways in my own life. One of the most prominent, and the biggest crossroad I have come to in my life to date, was the decision of whether or not to continue to pursue higher education. As I talked about in My 180: Sometimes Quitting is the Answer, at the point that I decided to quit graduate school, I had no idea where I was going, what I was going to do, or what the heck I wanted out of this great big world. The oh-so-common: Quarter Life Crisis.

When I was in school, I felt like all I identified with was my school work. Everyday I woke up, I went straight into work mode. I was still working part-time while going to graduate school, so if I wasn’t at my actual job I was studying and vice versa.

But, in the midst of everything that I was doing, I never felt like I was moving towards the right thing. I kept looking for the bright and shiny, which never seemed to get there. I kept thinking the reason that I was doing all this was to get to the goal, to get to the point where I was finally happy with what I was doing. There were pieces that I enjoyed throughout my time in graduate school, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t ever really into it the way I thought I was supposed to be.

As I went through the emotions, I kept thinking that “it will get better”, that maybe at some point I would finally reach the state of homeostasis in my life that I had been craving. But, that’s the thing, it never came.

I never got to the point where I felt like everything that I was doing was satiating the yearning for life that I had inside of me. I craved to do so much more than study, work, and go to class. I craved to travel and write and create memories outside of a classroom! I craved to form relationships with people that weren’t possible when the only relationship I could have was with my textbooks.

That’s why the 180 happened.

It happened because I realized that the “better” was never actually going to happen unless I made a drastic move to change my life. So, I quit grad school and shook things up. I decided that I was going to take my future into my own hands and decide when my “better” was going to come and it was now.

The day I decided to quit grad school, the day I decided that I was worth having a life that was my version of “better”, was one of the most important days of my life. Granted, even though learning that I didn’t want to continue with graduate school ended up being a very expensive lesson (side eye to those student loans…), I wouldn’t change how it went down for anything. In that moment, I stood up for myself and stood up for my life.

What can you do?

Taking a step back and reevaluating your “it will get better” situations could be just the thing you need. What is happening in your life where you are embracing the “it will get better” mentality? Is it your job? Your health? A significant relationship in your life? What situations are you putting yourself in right now?

Here are three questions that you can ask yourself:

  1. Is this situation hurting or helping you?
  2. Would you subject someone you love and care about to this situation?
  3. Can you take yourself out of the situation or make a drastic change to make things better that you’ve been putting off?

DISCLAIMER: If you ask yourself these questions and then tip toe around the answers like you have been for the past three, six, even twelve months, you’re not going to do anyone any favors. Be honest. Be honest with yourself and shoot straight from the hip. It won’t be easy. If you can’t be honest with yourself, ask someone that you trust to be honest for you and then don’t ignore what they have to say.

The answers to those questions can help serve as a guide to help you decide your direction moving forward. So many times we subject ourselves to things we wouldn’t subject a loved one to and let ourselves float down the river of life without even as much as allowing ourselves a life jacket. It’s time to throw yourself a rope.

Have you ever found yourself trapped in an “It will get better.” mentality? Did you stay there or did you make a change? Leave a comment and share your story!

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
Georg C. Lichtenberg

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