“Giving up is hard to do when you really love someone.” These lyrics crooned out by the late Donny Hathaway are packed with a truth you can only fully understand if you’ve ever loved. It is hard to give up on people, relationships and yes, even businesses and life plans you feel deeply about. Yet it happens that occasionally the things we love just don’t seem to love us back. They aren’t a good fit for us, or they are bringing us more tears than smiles. As a result, we may find ourselves considering whether or not to throw in the towel. It’s cool, we’ve all been there.
While it’s obvious this applies to romantic relationships, think about that idea you thought would be a great business or non-profit. OR perhaps that group of associates you thought would be great as friends and/or business partners. Then you find out in either scenario that that organization or those friends were just like a pill, they kept making you ill. Right.
By no means is anything worth having easily acquired or maintained but that doesn’t mean it should be unhealthy. In the midst of the emotion that often clouds our better judgment on these matters, we sometimes lack discernment on when to say when. If this sounds like you, take a look at a couple of red flags that may help you determine if your relationship, business situation or friendship is a done deal:
1. Here We Go Again: Let’s face it, we don’t really get to know a person until we get into the thick of life with them. Same can be said for running an organization- you never really know until you do it. Trying times and challenges truly enable us to see what we dislike about personalities, habits, outcomes, etc. Though ups and downs are a fact of life, generally when we express an issue or present a problem, we are able to discuss it, find a solution that will help long-term and move on. However, when we find ourselves repeatedly having the same arguments or solve the same business issues, it truly calls for us to look at the situation for what it is…and maybe its time to say bye bye baby.
“…when we want to walk away 80% of the time and want to strangle someone the other 20% of the time, it’s time to seriously consider what’s keeping us there..”
2. The bad is outweighing the good: In his movie “Why Did I Get Married?” Tyler Perry touches on something called the 80/20 rule. Basically this idea proposes that we will only have around 80% of our needs met by our significant other…the rest we have to write off as just being imperfect people in an imperfect world. The 80% keeps us motivated, warms our hearts, and at peace with the relationship we are in. Yet when this balance is drastically disrupted and we want to walk away 80% of the time and want to strangle someone the other 20% of the time, it’s time to seriously consider what’s keeping us there and if we need to call it quits.
“When you’re ready to keep it real, you’ll learn how the value of loving and supporting folks from a distance.”
3. Finished with the Façade: Have you ever seen a beautiful red apple that looks like it’s the tastiest piece of fruit ever, but when you cut into it, it’s brown and full of worms? That’s how some of our relationships are. On the outside they appear to be zip-tight, loving and mutually beneficial but on the inside, the part that most other people can’t see, they are ripe with dysfunction and draining on the psyche. At some point, many of us get tired of putting on airs and desire a more authentic life. When you’re ready to keep it real, you’ll learn how the value of loving and supporting folks from a distance.
4. For the Greater Good: Sometimes we will pass up a rare diamond glistening in the near distance just to hang on to a handful of rhinestones. In practical terms, this means we will occasionally focus on maintaining what is essentially worthless in light of what is available. When we get attached to a person, or become married to our jobs, it’s hard for us to sometimes imagine that there can be anything better out there. We fear that our lives would become deficient and we’d rather have something than nothing at all. We think de nial is just a river in Egypt. We may see new opportunities or healthier relationships but we’d rather hang on to what is comfortable, familiar and convenient.
Finding the wisdom and courage to walk away from unhealthy relationships is no small undertaking, and hardly to be trivialized. Yet often we are literally one ratchet relationship away from a happier life. When we clear out the clutter and finally see a situation for what it is, we become more focused, productive and positive. Fight the good fight when it’s worth it, but know when to step out of the ring when it’s not.