That one limiting factor that scares women from walking away is having no place to go. Having no destination is that difficult circumstance that blocks women from leaving controlling lovers, toxic friends, dead-end jobs. Here is how to walk away purposefully, powerfully, and confidently.
Walking away is the most powerful move any human can make. It is a well known fact, that in any relationship, whether romantic, friendship or work situation, it is the person who cares the least who has the most power, and the person who cares or needs the situation the most has the least power. Healthy relationships should not be a power struggle, but often we find ourselves in situations with people for whom control is the definition of a relationship. They simply cannot relate to another, nor feel safe in a situation unless they have complete control. And rather than relate, they manipulate people and situations until those people and situation conform to their needs and wants. Is that healthy?
Walking away is a practical life skill no one should ever feel insecure about. Walking away is a choice, you are choosing yourself as opposed to that toxic situation, and there is nothing more honorable than to honor the self. It seems cold, callous, unsympathetic. We have discussed the cost of catering to other people’s needs and sympathies countless times. But a lot of women fear walking away. Yes, they fear it. Why?
“How will I live without friends?”, “What will people think of me?” “I am not an uncaring person, I’ll just give this toxic person another chance”. How about that toxic work environment, or that parent who drains the life out of you? Our livelihood and our parents are keys to our survival, but sometimes our devotion to something that isn’t bettering our existence, is a devotion to self-sabotage.
The concept of walking away is misrespresented. Women who walk away easily are referred to by all kinds of names, yet for men walking away easily is a sign of manhood. Why? Shouldn’t a woman respect herself enough? Shouldn’t a woman make choices that honor her? Why is a woman expected to whine, cry, or have a hard time leaving? Are we really supposed to be devoted to difficult people, disserving situations, dead-end relationships, and painstakingly deliberate between choices that honor us and choices that honor other people? Somehow, to a lot of people, service to others makes a woman proper, caring, a real woman, but the other kind, the kind of woman who honors herself first is calculating, shrewd, cold, unfeeling. I have feelings, but I won’t be a victim to those feelings. I have a heart, but when my heart is bleeding, I will honor that heart first, and tend to it rather than destroy my self-respect for the benefit of other people.
Walking away was a skill I picked up at a young age, it was a matter of my own survival. And I learned right away, that when I walk away from people and situations that don’t honor me, I am more powerful, more confident, more respecting of the self. What I wasn’t expecting is that this skill has earned me the respect of a lot of people. Sure, the toxic people you leave behind will resent you forever, but the healthy ones who are watching your every move will take note.
Walking away from difficult, toxic bosses, has earned me career respect. Other executives were watching and noticed that I don’t bow down and submit to disrespectful treatment. I have taken pay cuts, demotions, been called “difficult” for having an opinion, but people were watching. The first thing that happened was that coworkers started asking if they could work for me. Why? They felt safe and honored by me. I won’t throw coworkers under the bus for having the guts to tell me when I am wrong.
The second thing that happened is that those no-nonsense executives who value good work with no drama started inviting me to join their projects. A lot of good managers value honor over politics, they value strong opinions, in fact, they surround themselves with people who don’t bullshit, are capable of validating their opinions with quantifiable facts, and won’t pay to have their egos stroked.
Walking away and choosing your honor first is difficult, but it is valued by honorable people. What kind of people do you want in your life? I didn’t start practicing honoring myself 100% of the time until my 40’s. For decades I felt guilty, I doubted my stubbornness, and like many women out there, I actually believed that there is something wrong with me for leaving toxic people behind. Why can’t I tolerate more? Why can’t I make peace with that manipulator? I must not be a people person, I don’t possess people skills. Wrong.
I do possess people skills, and people do appreciate that. I honor people who act honorably. I don’t honor everybody else. I respect people who have earned my respect, I don’t respect those who demand it. In fact, demanding respect is a red-flag. In my choice to walk away, I am choosing to walk toward healthy friends and relationships, I am always walking toward more happiness, more health, more knowledge, more growth, more experience. Yes, in order to have those better options in life, you do have to walk away from whoever or whatever is keeping you stuck. You can’t earn anything in life unless you are willing to walk in that direction.
What makes walking away easier is 100% devotion to honor. That’s not easy, to many of us that feels selfish. You will get guilted and shamed for choosing your own happiness over others’. Back when I felt guilty for choosing my sanity, my health and me, I struggled to explain why I won’t be loyal to anyone but myself. Somehow, you are supposed to have the loyalty of a dog, and struggle through toxic situations, and remain devoted to them forever. Nope, not me. What made it easier was to say that I am loyal to happiness, health, wealth, positivity, knowledge, growth, expansion, and discovering my own path. No one can argue with that.
Don’t let anyone tell you that walking away is cold, callous or mean. Walking away is your super-power. It demonstrates your self-respect. Anyone who will guilt you for respecting yourself, or try to negotiate a longer stay in what isn’t serving you, does not have your best interest in mind. They have their own.
There are two very important factors to walking away. The word No, and direction. ‘No’ is the most powerful word in the world, and it is a signature word of a woman with strong boundaries. Practice the word No frequently, get comfortable saying it with no other explanation and no apology, start saying it to those people who are the most difficult to say it to. Trust me, it gets easier and easier, until saying No frees you from guilt or their judgment. The second factor to walking away successfully, is direction. You must know what you are walking towards, or people will drag you back to them.
The absence of direction in life is perceived as you having no goals or options, and that makes it easier for people to take up your time, and use your energy toward meeting their needs. You must always have a clear direction to walk to. For example, a man who knows you have no other options can easily keep you bound to him. Where are you going to go? A boss who knows you are not ambitious, knows you are not interviewing and that no other employer is making you any offers. Will she willingly offer you a raise? A friend who knows you are starving for friendships and relationships knows you are not surrounded by better people, and that you will always do whatever it takes to maintain good standing with her.
You will never walk away unless you have a direction to walk in. So, where are you going? When you lack direction, you are easily caught up in the affairs of other people. You start tending to their needs. They won’t value your time, because your time is free and not focused on anything important. They help you be useful by letting you tend to their needs. You become their utility. Why not, you have nothing better to do?
Having direction does not mean that you have to have some high-reaching life goal to change the world. Your goal can be you, and your direction can be your path of self discovery, learning, balance.
People will respect your walking away when they see how easily you maintain your boundaries using the word No, and when they see that you have clear direction when you are walking away.
Think of it this way. When you were a child, did you ever pack your tiny suitcase and try to run away? How far did you get? Chances are that your parents found your plight amusing, maybe they even let you go, because they knew you weren’t going far. With just a dollar of quarters in your pocket, and a few goldfish crackers in your belly, they had nothing to worry about. They knew you’d be back by dinner time. Do you see now why walking away fails for a lot of women who can’t say no, and have no direction?
Controllers, manipulators, toxic bosses, bad lovers and friends know a loyal dog when they see one. Where would the dog go when there are no other neighbors to feed it? The dog will always be loyal to whoever feeds it.
No one will respect your time, friendship, or work when they see how freely you give it away, how few options you have, how easily you can be swayed to participate in their affairs, how you lack a better place to go. And if you find walking away so difficult and painful, perhaps it is because you have no better place to be. Perhaps you haven’t made that better circle of friends, you have not updated your resume or sent in any applications, perhaps your parents know you’re not moving out of their basement and that you won’t move far from their fridge.
Walking away gets easier with time, because it forces you to always have a direction. Walking away is powerful for women with options, and impossible for people with no options. Your walk away from any situation is totally dependent on you having something to walk toward. You won’t go far without a destination.