Pretty much all of us have a friend who doesn’t ever seem to be stressed out or worried about anything. They enjoy their job, are usually admired and respected by their peers and co-workers, don’t even consider working overtime, and laugh at the concept of doing anything they don’t want to do.
Most of us can’t relate to that mindset. We’ve been so conditioned to put up with all nine circles of hell for the sake of adult responsibilities like paying rent and making sure our pets and kids are fed and clothed or whatever.
Well that’s crap, and your ever-chilled-out friend has the right idea.
If you’ve ever been pushed to the point where all you needed was just one more thing to tip you over the edge into “fuck this shit” land, but that thing never happened, then you probably aren’t familiar with the catharsis that comes from doing exactly that.
What’s even better than the immediate feeling of satisfaction that comes from turning and walking away from whatever insipid bullshit you’re contending with is the fact that doing so is quite literally good for your mental health, and here’s how:
I don’t know many people who haven’t felt like they’ve had their personal power stripped away by someone in a position of authority; someone they had to submit to, even if that person was in the wrong.
Have you ever worked for an incompetent imbecile who could have only gotten their management job thanks to nepotism? How frustrating is it to have to nod and smile and follow their directions when you know that everything they’re saying is wrong, and stupid, and you’re going to end up shafted for it?
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I was in my twenties was to always be prepared to walk away. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to quit on the spot whenever someone treats you badly, but rather that you’re not afraid to call them out when their behavior towards you is unacceptable.
If they’re treating you with disrespect, make that clear to them, and let them know that it’s unacceptable. If their ideas are completely off-topic and will sabotage your project (or the company as a whole), make that known to them – assertively – and to their superiors too, if necessary.
In the vast majority of cases, they’ll be taken aback by the fact that you’ve dared to stand your ground, but ultimately they’ll respect you for doing so. Sure, on rare occasions, you might find yourself having to choose between continuing to tolerate their idiocy or packing up your stuff and walking out, but is that so bad? Sometimes you need to be able to do exactly that. There isn’t a job in the world that’s worth losing your soul to for the sake of a paycheck.
Have you even been in a situation where you’ve gone half out of your mind with worry, going through just about every worst-case “what-if” scenario imaginable? If you have, then you’re probably very familiar with the fact that those spiraling thoughts don’t just happen during the day – they’re most rampant at night, when you should be trying to get some much-needed sleep.
Insomnia is one of the many ways that stress and anxiety manifests in your body, and it’s actually one of the most harmful. Sleep deprivation is commonly used as a means of torture, and the longer you go without sleep, the more anxious and depressed and messed up you’ll become.
On top of all of that, lack of sleep affects your immune system as well as your emotions, so if worries are keeping you awake night after night, you’re much more likely to get ill than if you were getting decent rest.
Letting go of all the stressful, manic thoughts that are roiling around in your head allows you to get some decent rest so you can tackle whatever life has in store for you the next day. Evening meditation or gentle yoga is amazingly helpful for this, especially if you do guided meditations that help you envision your worries as blowing far away from you every time they arise.
You’ll Have Greater Self Esteem (and Healthier Relationships)
Unless you’re a devout Buddhist who has reached a particularly festive level of enlightenment, chances are that you’ve formed some pretty strong attachments to other people. Those attachments are not inherently bad as bonds of friendship and romantic involvement can bring a lot of joy into our lives. If, however, they’re so strong that you’re willing to accept being treated like shit by folks who claim to care about you, then those attachments are doing far more harm than good.
Most people find themselves trapped in ugly situations when they accept mistreatment because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t. For example, someone might tolerate a romantic partner’s emotional, psychological, or even physical abuse because they’re afraid of being alone. They’ll explain away someone’s poor behavior towards them as something being their own fault; that if only they had been better, somehow, they wouldn’t be on the receiving end of such treatment.
Fuck that. Seriously.
If your partner really values you, then they’ll be willing to work through issues when, not if, you point them out. If they’re not, then they’re just not worth keeping. That kind of “love” does far more harm than good: instead of being in a supportive relationship with someone who loves and accepts you for who you are, you’ll just end up second guessing your every action (see stress + insomnia above for how that’ll affect you), and believing that you’re the cause of this cruelty and abuse will wear your self esteem down to nothing.
Sadly, we often tolerate things that harm us far longer than we should, when instead we should be slamming down unacceptable behavior as soon as it arises. Remember that advice about always being prepared to walk away? That doesn’t just go for toxic jobs; it also goes for anyone in your life who doesn’t treat you well.
There are plenty of other potential friends and lovers out there, and all of them will be far healthier for you than putting up with flagrant jackassery could ever be.
If you’re dealing with a situation that leaves you wracked with anxiety and panic, take a moment to think about who you could be without that shit in your life. If you like the idea of being that person, if you can sense the truth deep down that yes, you are absolutely capable of changing your world, then go for it.
There’s a saying that goes something like, “You are one decision away from an entirely different life”. Well, that healthier, happier, life path begins with two very simple words: “fuck this”.
Do you have this attitude or wish you did? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.