Sometimes we’re stuck in a situation that we can’t leave immediately. It sounds easy to leave a party when the host fat shames you, but it becomes much harder when you came with a friend who doesn’t recognize what’s happened and wants to stay. It sounds like an easy decision to leave a company when your boss is bullying you, but when you’re already living out of your overdraft it’s a much harder decision. During these times it’s hard to trust that things are going to work out and hearing advice to “stay positive and be patient” can be frustrating. I have been in a situation where I wanted to flee, and I wanted to share a few concrete steps that helped me cope until I was able to leave.
Changing plans may seem a bit of a cop-out but was a huge help to me when I was trying to leave a difficult situation. I had originally planned to stay in the job I had for two years. When things became difficult, I struggled. I kept thinking I would have to stay for that long, because that was ‘the plan.’
Then I changed plans. I started looking for way to leave early. Changing my plans made staying less awful. Once I changed my plans, I found it helpful to make new ones, both short- and long-term. I spent some time deciding how and when I could leave, as well as deciding where I wanted to be in a year’s time. Having an idea of where I wanted to go helped me figure out the steps I needed to get there.
I find this step especially important when it comes to financial goals. Often we can’t leave a situation because of finances, so figuring out exactly what we need in order to walk away is essential. Working towards that goal can also help distract us from a difficult situation. Watching savings grow and ticking things off our lists gives us a boost, especially when it means getting closer to leaving the situation we’re stuck in.
Being in a situation that we can’t immediately leave can often make us feel lonely or cause us to isolate ourselves. Finding a support group of friends and family wherever you can takes away some of the burden you may be carrying. Having people to whom you can vent is essential to coping. On a particularly rough day at work a text from a friend, a rant in a Facebook group, or a quick chat with a work friend in the bathroom can keep you going.
Building a supportive network is absolutely essential if you’re trying to escape a relationship. Maintaining allies when you are trying to away from a negative relationship means that when you are feeling weak you have someone to turn to. I firmly believe that an online community can offer just as much support as a friend you see face to face. Try to make time to meet someone for coffee once a week or take fifteen minutes to pop onto a Facebook group.
If you are struggling with isolating yourself or finding allies you can look towards groups online on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, and if you’d like to find allies that you can meet face-to-face, consider picking up a hobby like a knitting group or game night. When you’re stuck in a social situation you can’t get out of, and you don’t have an ally there, reach out and text someone who isn’t there, or go to your social media of choice. Just because you’re physically somewhere without an ally doesn’t mean you can’t remove yourself emotionally and connect with an ally who is somewhere else.
Setting aside quiet time can also be helpful. When I have been stuck in a relationship or job I hated I have found that taking fifteen minutes helps me keep my cool. I take some time every day to sit quietly (in a bath, on the couch, in a coffee shop), shut off anything I am listening to, and focus on my breathing. I don’t think what I do is officially ‘meditating,’ but it’s the same concept, I think. I just try to slow everything down and allow myself to feel whatever emotions come up. Sometimes I cry (which is why I prefer the bath), sometimes I laugh, and sometimes I just sit and breathe. Those fifteen minutes feel restorative. They take me out of myself a bit and somehow I hurt less.
I also sometimes use that time to remind myself that I am not defined by my environment. It may be obvious to some people, but I forget that I am not what surrounds me. Take time every day to remember that you are not defined by your bad job, abusive partner, unkind friend, or even loud, scary social event. I know going through something you can’t immediately get out of is hard but you are still yourself. When it all gets on top of me I take time to remember I am still the loving, kind, strong, sexy, hilarious, clever human that I have always been, and that I have a 100% success rate for getting through awful situations. You do too, so keep fighting. You’ve got this.
What are your best coping skills? How do you get through an awful situation? Please let me know in the comments below, through email, or to the social media platform of your choice.