I just read a New York Times article
The research the article reports shows how much we are afraid of loss. Specifically, it reports on experiments that make it clear that we will do anything to keep our options open, EVEN WHEN THAT HURTS US. We stay in a marriage long after we know it’s over. We keep friends in our lives long after we’ve learned we get nothing from them. We delay settling on a career, trying to keep our options open up to and past the stage when our options actually start to dry up.
It’s not only normal. It’s seems intuitive. What could possibly be wrong with keeping your options open? A lot, actually. Those “open options” can mean you’re not deciding. Those open options represent people and situations in your life that hurt you and waste your time.
What to do? Let’s focus on relationships. As I show in my book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, the best thing to do is to get out of ambivalence as fast as you can (and my book shows you exactly how to choose what’s best for you, staying or leaving). The truth is that the happiest, most productive, most satisfied people make hard choices and cut loose options that just aren’t working out for them.
I know: it can seem ruthless. But it isn’t. You have one life, one heart, and only a limited amount of time and energy. The very best thing you can do is make that tough decision about who and what is best for you in your life and let go of the rest. Yes, you’re letting go of some of your options. But you’re opening yourself up to a more rewarding relationship with the people and activities you hold on to.
So do this. Prune your relationships. Let go of friends who give you nothing and waste your time. Let go of activities that take you away from the people who are most important to you. If a relationship isn’t working out, give yourself six months to fix it, decide in advance what you need to stay or leave (and read my book), and at the end of six months just decide once and for all.
This is scary, I know. We’re creatures who like to keep our options open. But if prune your relationships, you will have a better life.
I’d love to hear from you about this, whether you agree or disagree. Tell us about your experiences holding on or letting go.
And for all your relationship issues, here’s something that can help you. I’ve started a love and intimacy group that’s just growing and growing. It provides support and invaluable suggestions for pulling your relationship out of the doldrums, putting the spark back in love, and fixing the most common relationship problems. Plus you’ll have a lot of fun and it could make all the difference for you! I hope you will check out my new group and join it. To get to it, click here.