7 simple steps to find the courage to leave a toxic situation

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Last updated on March 9th, 2021

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Whether it’s a career that doesn’t inspire you, a man you still love but doesn’t return this love in a healthy way or friends who are no longer a match to your values, it’s not always easy to find the courage to leave a situation that doesn’t support you.

Rationalizing the status quo, doubts about your ability to create a better situation, fear of the unknown can paralyze you and keep you stuck in a toxic situation even if deep down you know it’s time to break the cord.

Here are 7 steps to build the courage to move on from any situation:

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1. Strengthen your self-esteem

No one likes to hear this, but the truth is that if you’re holding on to anything toxic in your life, something is not quite right with your self-esteem.

In some way, you’re not valuing yourself enough to give yourself the best experience of life that you can have.

If you were, would you really accept to have your week-end plans cancelled over and over again to deal with fake emergencies at work?

Would you put up with shady behaviors and a deceitful attitude from your ‘man’?
Probably not!

Your time-off should be sacred.
And, the person who’s in your life should respect you.

If you’re holding on to anything toxic in your life, something is not quite right with your self-esteem.

If that’s not the case, well sorry to say but you do have self-esteem issues.

Ok, before you freak out. It’s not as bad as it may sound though.
We all have self-esteem issues to some extent. So actually, you’re fairly normal in that regard.

And, it’s especially prevalent for those of us made of that big-hearted, generous, caring fabric. You know what I mean: those times when you just don’t want to hurt anyone so you put up with things you shouldn’t…

Now, having a big heart is a beautiful quality.
However, letting others abuse you is folly.

Therefore, make sure to keep strong boundaries!

Be ok with walking away from what no longer serves you. Click To Tweet

2. Look at the facts

less-is-more

Often, we get caught up in unhealthy situations because we romanticize the facts.

– ‘Hmm, Well ok. I do feel a bit like a hamster on a wheel and I, kind of loathe my colleagues and despise my boss. Buuut, I do have have a fabulous corner office with great light and my job title really impresses my parents’ friends.’

– ‘No, really. I am sure, it’s just me. He is not doing anything wrong. His co-worker just wears a lot of perfume and he has to work late often, that’s all…’.

You know how it goes…

We come up with all sorts of creative stories to avoid staring at the painful facts:

– The fancy lucrative job is actually more akin to wearing golden-shackles.

– And, the man is not exactly committed to the ‘relationship’.

Making excuses for dysfunction prevents you from thriving. Click To Tweet

You can ignore these facts as much as you want but there’s a huge problem with this approach: you cannot formulate a solution for a problem you don’t understand.

By refusing to acknowledge the dysfunction of the situation and looking at the facts squarely, you’re keeping yourself stuck.

You may believe you’re being reasonable about your job, or that you’re cutting this guy some slack. In truth, you’re only sabotaging yourself.

3. The worst-case scenario

– ‘What?! Dominique, come on! I thought you were all about positivity.’

Sure, certainly.
However…

Positivity is important but balance matters too.

There’s in a gift in any situation if you take a moment to look for it.
More often than not a negative situation can teach you about yourself, your own boundaries and what you can or cannot accept.

Let’s get back to the dodgy guy.

If he can only call you at midnight and calls you Pam when your name is Audrey, you know you’re not exactly dealing with solid relationship material.

The more you engage with his foolishness, the more you risk the chance of getting your heart broken.
The truth is, it’s very unlikely that he’ll suddenly see the light and start to treat you with the respect you deserve.

Same goes for the job.

If you keep doing your best and eventually get promoted further, chances are you’ll get even more of the same that is: even less of a personal life and even more time (in your fancy office!) surrounded by the people you hate.

How do you feel about that?
Is it something you’d like to experience?

Probably not.

A negative situation can teach you about yourself, your own boundaries and what you can or cannot accept.

See, what’s brilliant about looking at the negative is that it makes it a lot easier to FEEEEEEL the painful things we would like to ignore.

It makes things clear and unmistakable.
And this helps you find the courage to take action to protect yourself.

No more making excuses, no more lying to yourself.
Your survival instinct is now activated.

Powerful stuff!

4. List the pros and the cons

Looking at the worst-case scenario gave your clarity on the future you’re looking at if you were to stay on the same course.

The beauty of making this projection is that this is still in your future.

You don’t have to ever experience it if you chose not to.

Even better, you still have time to prepare your transition and avoid finding yourself in firewoman mode when hells eventually breaks lose as it’s bound to if you continue do nothing to avoid the upcoming disaster.

This is a powerful vantage point to identify the pros and the cons of different courses of action and to mitigate your losses.

Identifying the pros and the cons of different courses of action helps you mitigate your losses.

The key here is to identify what you stand to win and what you stand to lose by moving on.

In the case of the job that sucks your soul, you will probably regain balance, time and a sense of joy.
And, you’ll probably lose in stability and economic power, at least temporarily.

Use the positive aspects to find the courage you need.
Create a plan to mitigate your losses to counteract the fear you probably will experience at the thought of having less security.

5. Find your why

quote banner: Don't be afraid to walk alone...

Fear is great motivator and it will get you moving.
However it will only bring your so far.

Once the immediate danger has gone you will probably find yourself falling back into old habits and settling back in your comfort zone.

You’ve probably seen examples of people who quit their jobs to avoid their hellish boss only to get back into corporate mode in a similar situation when the going gets tough.

The fear of seeing themselves stuck in the hell they were living helped them find the courage to leave.
However, it wasn’t enough to fuel them for the journey to freedom they had undertaken.

If you look at the common denominators amongst some of the most successful people in the world, they have big dreams.

– Some may want to alleviate world hunger.

– Some may want to connect people around the world.

– Some may want to eradicate diseases.

They are moved by something much bigger than themselves which gives them the strength to go on no matter what life throws at them.

Finding your why is a greater motivator than fear. Click To Tweet

Now, you don’t need to see yourself planting gardens on Mars to find the courage to leave your flaky dude.

However, thinking about your prospects of starting a family and the kind of example you are setting for your future daughter could do.
Dig into your life and find those little things that move you to make a difference for someone.

This will inspire you to find the courage to push past your fear and your comfort zone.Banner: bonus find the courage to leave any toxic situation

6. Project yourself in the ideal outcome

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

It’s a secret that most visionaries know: dreaming big and vividly pulls you towards your dreams.
It also has the counter-effect to pull you away from anything that no longer serves you.

It’s a useful trick!

A zillion years ago, I was stuck in a hellish job that felt so bad that the idea of driving thorns under my nails felt like a relaxing day at the spa.

I started playing with my imagination and the ideal outcome I wanted to experience.
Every break I took, I used the opportunity to play with this idea and to immerse myself fully in this ideal outcome.

Slowly, the vividness of my imaginary adventures started to carry over to the rest of my day.

The job didn’t feel so bad anymore.

Not that I was becoming desensitized and more acceptant of it!

On the contrary: I was becoming completely detached from it because emotionally I was beginning to believe that the nightmare was over and I was free from the job.

Interestingly enough, as I became more and more saturated by this feeling, doors began to open.
And, in an incredible twist of event, I was freed from the hellish job and projected in quite an idyllic situation.

Dreaming big pulls you away from anything that no longer serves you.

The point is, it’s easier to find the courage to move away from a toxic situation when your new prospects feel so inviting.

7. Connect with a new circle

courageous friends

Finally, you’ve probably heard the expression, ‘no man is an island’.

That is true!

We are ruled by our subconscious which tends to reproduce what it’s being exposed to.

If you’re constantly exposed to anything that reinforces your destructive patterns, you will need more courage to break free.

If all your friends do is to call you crazy for considering striking it out on your own, it reinforces your fear obviously.

If you surround yourself with courageous people, courage is normal.

On the other hand, if you’re surrounded by people and circumstances that reinforce your decision to seek a healthier environment, you won’t need so much courage anymore.

You will take on the attitudes and the mindsets of your new environment, and doing what’s right for you will then come to you naturally.

If all your friends are urging you to dump the dud because you deserve much better, it will begin to feel like the only logical course of action.

And, it will no longer require so much courage to call it quit on this relationship.

You get the idea.

If you surround yourself with superheroes, flying is normal.
If you surround yourself with courageous people, courage is normal.

Just as a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.Banner: bonus find the courage to leave any toxic situation

Final words

Finding the courage to leave a toxic situation  starts with the right strategies.

When all the fact are in the balance, it becomes easier to make a decision and to follow the correct course of action. It less a matter of courage and more a matter of logic and self-preservation.

This, in turn, diminishes your burden and makes it easier to act.

To become more courageous surround yourself with courageous people. Click To Tweet
VIP VAULT BONUS: I have put together a worksheet to help you with the process I described in this article. Click here to access the worksheet.

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Last updated on Dec. 18th, 2019

Dominique
Bonjour!

I am Dominique! I help smart, sassy, successful (but unfulfilled!) women create soulful lives. (You can learn more here)

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