“What if”- A plague of hesitations and double-takes, always holding you back from walking away from toxic situations. Often enough, these two words echo through the conclaves of our mind like a coin drop in a deserted monastery.

Recently having been haunted by the phantasm of these two words, I found that it plagued and made me do double takes with my decision to leave. Almost like a nagging idea, a murmur of doubt made me hesitate and stay transfixed in a dire situation for far too long.

This can be related to a phenomenon widely known as Graduation Goggles, a term aptly named by my an all time favourite television series, How I Met Your Mother. The concept basically explains that although you’ve made a decision to cut off ties or get out of a truly miserable situation, you hesitate and look back and think, ‘hey, it wasn’t so bad. Maybe I can give it another chance.’ Then, you’d proceed to back down from your decision to leave, leading to another whole round of misery for yourself.

Unfortunately, in real life, there isn’t a sure fire way to get out of the predicament. You’re going to have to get a little down and dirty with the mess, with what we call human emotions to sort things and figure out what you really want. Here’s the tricky part: once you’ve made your decision to leave, this is when nostalgia starts to seep in; romanticizing and making you second guess your decision.

Having recently been in such a volley of emotions (I’m sure I still have whiplash from the to and fro motion of thoughts and feelings I had), here are some guidelines on how to stick to your guns in making the decision to leave from an unwanted situation:

  1. Keep in mind your end-term goal.

Be it a relationship or a job prospect, try to align yourself with your goals and aims. What were you hoping to achieve when you entered the scenario? Did you envision wedding bells or a stable income with ample time? Or were you just looking for a means to fill your time?

2. Weigh the worth.

Now that you have your goal in mind, it’s time to assess the situation. Is the pain and turmoil you feel, the situation you’re stuck in, going to help you in achieving your goal? If yes, is there any other way for you to achieve your goals besides your current predicament?

3. Prioritize yourself.

While assessing your situation, you should also remember to prioritize yourself. Although the situation may seem like a driving force to achieving your goal or aim, remember, your mental health and feelings count. Not saying that you should just throw in a towel when things get rough, but if you’re having a mental breakdown every other week and feel drained or stressed all the time, then that’s a sure fire sign that you need to walk away.

4. Rationalise it away.

Now that you’ve figured that moving on from it all is the right move, this is when the chorus of ‘what if’s come on full blast. It’s a repeated choir, sowing fear into your fragile heart. So instead, remember: Don’t let the fear of change hold you back from leaving a place or situation. It’s just another form of guilt-trip tricking you to stay uprooted in your misery all for the sake of routine and normalcy.

5. Remember, you had a reason to walk away.

Through it all, against the waves of doubts and hesitation, just keep to the truth that you’ve reached from steps 1-3. No matter what the little murmurs or thoughts may be, hold steadfast to your resolve. You’ve approached the decision as calmly and logically as you could, and it wasn’t in the heat of the moment. Now all you have to do is walk away with your head held high.