Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about getting comfortable. As in, staying in situations that may not be the best for us because it’s comfortable. A very dear friend took it upon herself many years ago to teach me about the joys of human economics, a nugget of wisdom that has proved invaluable throughout the years, and hopefully will be as useful to you.
“As humans, we are naturally economically minded. In economics, the name of the game is to get the most out of scarce resources. We make our choices based on wants and needs, taking into account the limited resources at our disposal. Time and dignity, for example are both rather scarce, which means people are quite risk averse. This can go both ways when love is involved. People are less likely to take a chance with someone who they view as out of their league e.g. the Prince/ Princess, or to try a relationship if they’ve been hurt badly before. Conversely, they can be less likely to leave the confines of a relationship where they are at a defined and stable level of unhappiness, rather than take the risk of leaving and finding out they will be more unhappy out of it.
Everything we consume is subject to diminishing capital returns. If you use something regularly, after a period of time the degree of satisfaction you get from each use extra reduces until there is nothing left. The example I was given was eating chocolate; the enjoyment of each square increases, until you start to feel sick, then the extra enjoyment keeps going down until you aren’t enjoying it anymore and you’re wasting chocolate.
This model can be applied in almost all areas of life, but especially in relationships. Not just romantic, this can apply to the relationships we have with friends, family, colleagues, whatever the case may be. The more you put into one, the more joy you get from it going well. Unfortunately, in some relationships there hits a point where putting more effort on your part gives you a bit less joy than before. This continues until you’re getting no extra good from your effort and so are wasting those scarce resources of dignity and time.” *
This also applies to getting comfortable with one’s circumstances. You throw effort and time and maybe your dignity into something, and derive great enjoyment from it! For a bit, at least. After a while you slowly get less and less enjoyment out of it, until you get no enjoyment out of it at all. In time, you may actively be hurt by it, or repulsed by it. But you stay, because better the devil you know, right?
I was talking about my ancient, tired old car with someone today and they passed the comment that spending money on it would be something along the lines of “throwing bad money after good”, i.e. a waste. I disagree, but my view is clouded by one major factor; I adore that car. I’ve had it for years, it’s my first car. Even though it sounds like a swan engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation when it starts, even though the paint is peeling, even though the radio doesn’t work, I love her. So much. It’s a comfortable relationship.
But she rattles and she won’t last long. I should trade her in (if anyone will have her) but I just can’t bear to let go. I think we all do that with a lot of things. We hang onto things that aren’t working anymore because we just can’t bear to say that final goodbye. To friends, to partners, to family, to objects. It’s hard to let go, but sometimes it’s for the best. How else would you know if you’ll be happier or not out of it if you don’t at least try?
But then there is the fear. What if leaving is a mistake? What if you look back in 5 years and regret it with all your heart and soul? There are some things you can’t take back or fix, regardless of how hard you try. Some things truly are unforgivable, and some things you just can’t take back. When leaving means potentially hurting someone else, how do you live with the guilt?
You can make pro and con lists, if you are that way inclined. There are those too who say it’s a feeling, and that you just know. But what if you don’t?
Time is the great equalizer for all of us. It heals all wounds, and eventually we all succumb to the tidal wave of it. Time is also a great companion to those of us lost in confusion. Taking the time and being older and (hopefully) wiser. Really examining who we are and what we want, what we are capable of and what we simply cannot handle, these are the moments that make or break us.
I overthink everything to a horrifying degree, so I’m probably the last person to give this as advice, but lets go fully gauche and follow the immortal words of Nike; Just do it. Just jump and hope for the best. If you sink or swim, at least you know. Let the cat out of Schrodinger’s box. How else will you know if you’re alive or dead?
*paraphrased from source material.