3 Killer Questions That Will Help You Decide Whether to Stay or Leave Any Situation

Being honest with yourself now can save a lot of pain later

Kathryn Wells
Aug 4, 2020 · 5 min read
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

If ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ has become less a song by The Clash and more your own personal anthem then you’re in the right place.

Whether it’s a job that isn’t in alignment with your values, a friendship that’s draining you, a relationship that makes you feel like less of who you are, or a place you’ve outgrown, analysis paralysis can leave you feeling unsure of which way to go.

It’s normal to feel stuck. You aren’t, but it can feel that way.

The doors to the cages we willingly hop into are always open but over time even situations that are uncomfortable can feel safe enough that we become unable to see the open door. And even when we finally do, the thought of venturing out into the vast unknown can feel so scary that we become paralyzed.

If this is where you are, I understand. Holding onto the bars of various cages before finally working up the courage to fly out of them has felt like all I’ve done these past two years.

And it’s been hard. Damn hard.

But finally, after flying free from a relationship, a friendship, a home and a job, there are no more cages to be leapt from. It’s just me, floundering about in the sky, flapping my wings like crazy, hoping I don’t crash land into the ground again.

Which has happened more times than I care to count these last 24 months.

But that is to be expected after being caged for so long. It’s not that we forget how to fly, it’s often just been a long time since we’ve used our wings and so it can take some time to remember what we know.

It is always tempting to stay in the cage. If it were easy to leave we’d all be doing it and none of us would be stuck in situations that don’t serve us. But it’s not easy and so if you find yourself continually stepping back from the edge of your cage, too frightened to fly, I understand.

I’ve hung out in that same place so many times lately and I only hope that in sharing the questions I asked myself, that you will find the answers you need to unlock all that courage you have inside of you and fly free.

1) Would I Be Okay With Still Being in This Situation 12 Months From Now?

This question can help you get immediate clarity. If you did nothing about this situation for the next 365 days, would you be okay with that?

Now, while for many people the answer would be no, there may be situations that you genuinely feel you could tolerate for another year.

Think carefully about this one. If you truly feel that you can wait 12 months with no adverse effects to your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual wellbeing then it may be a case of simply acknowledging that this situation isn’t what you want long-term but in the short-term it works for you.

If, however, you feel that this situation is taking a toll on your wellbeing and the same feelings to leave keep rising up in you again and again, then I would imagine another 365 days of that is going to take its toll.

No matter how scary and painful leaving is, those feelings will only intensify the longer you choose to stay. Short-term pain and chaos is easier than delaying action and being hit twice as hard down the line.

Trust me, your future self who’s standing 18 months off in the distance will thank you for leaping now.

2) Am I Trying to Rationalize My Way Out of Acting?

We’ve all been here.

  • The relationship isn’t that bad
  • At least I have a job
  • Maybe I’m just overreacting
  • I should be grateful for what I have
  • This is just the way life is
  • I just need to give it more time

Yes, it’s important to be grateful for what we have and what those situations and people have taught us but you’re not a sacrificial lamb, you don’t owe anybody anything and you don’t have to be grateful 24/7 in every situation.

Some of us spend a great deal of time rationalising our way out of what our intuition is telling us to do. That’s how you waste days, weeks, months and often years of your life.

Rational and logical thinking is important, if we all acted on every emotion we felt we’d never stay in any job or relationship for more than a month but it can be taken too far.

If you’re still spinning your wheels six months down the line, feeling the same feelings but frequently rationalising why you shouldn’t do what you need to do, then that’s a good sign that you need to let the intuitive part of you take the wheel.

If you’ve spent that long thinking about something then you already know the answer, despite what you may tell yourself to the contrary.

3) Am I Resisting Who I’m Now Being Called to Be?

Stepping more fully into who we were born to be can feel terrifying. That’s why we often cling to situations that don’t serve us, we’re scared of what letting go and moving forward will mean.

If you’re feeling frequently uncomfortable in a particular part of your life or feel like you’re being strongly pulled away from something and towards something else, the chances are you’ve learned what you needed to learn from those experiences and it’s time to move to the next stage of your growth.

Note: you will likely resist this calling with everything you have.

We don’t like change and we don’t like anything that feels scary so we will fight tooth and nail to stay in our cages, even if being in them feels suffocating, even if we feel like we’re dying a slow and painful death.

We will only finally surrender and stop fighting the current when our spirit overpowers our mind and renders us too exhausted to keep swimming up stream.

Our minds are strong so this can take some time but our spirits are stronger and so sooner or later the spirit wins.

Sooner is preferable, it’s far less painful.

Ask yourself if by staying in the situation you’re in, you’re resisting who you’re being called to be and if the answer is yes, find the courage to grow because somewhere out there are people that need that next version of you.

You are not as stuck as you think you are. The cage doors are open, you just have to harness the strength, courage and resilience that are baked right into who you are to help you let go of the bars.

It won’t be easy and it will likely hurt but if you trust what you know you will find in time that all that confusion and turmoil was worth it.

You may well leap from your cage and free fall to the ground, I certainly did. But you’ll pick yourself up and you’ll try again. And you’ll keep trying until one day, without even noticing you’re doing it, you’ll find that you’re soaring.

There’s nothing I love more than when you share your experiences with me so please leave me a comment so that we can connect.

The Courage Classroom

Unlocking the strength to live, love and lead with courage

Kathryn Wells

Written by

Lover of peanut butter, chocolate and the written word. Figuring life out one puzzle piece at a time.

The Courage Classroom

The Courage Classroom features pieces that explore how we can live, love and lead with courage.

Kathryn Wells

Written by

Lover of peanut butter, chocolate and the written word. Figuring life out one puzzle piece at a time.

The Courage Classroom

The Courage Classroom features pieces that explore how we can live, love and lead with courage.

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