The older I get the more my eyes seem to leak. I tell myself this is a good sign, that I’m more in touch with my emotions now. But this week it got to the ridiculous point as I said goodbye to my 1998 Honda Accord - the one with 218,000 miles, faded paint, ripped seats, a slightly dented hood, a dashboard knob missing, the cruise control out, an inoperable driver side rear door, an AC that requires the treatment in a can twice each summer, and bad oil leaks. The latest repair was going to be $900 so I sold it for $500 and walked away with tears in my eyes. What is wrong with me?!
I’m pretty sure what's wrong with me is the same thing that's wrong with you. Maybe it’s not cars, but there is a good chance you are holding on to some things that should have been released long ago. Many people stay in unhealthy relationships they know are not going anywhere. Employers keep underperforming employees when there is no observable reason to think performance will change. Businesses use old models and strategies that are no longer profitable. Sports franchises pay huge salaries to players past their prime to the detriment of the team’s success. Suburbanites pack their homes, garages, basements and storage units full of junk that will never be used again. Many continue in habits that are harmful to physical or spiritual health because of the temporary feelings they provide. In each of these instances it is better to walk away even if it brings a few tears on the journey.
A failure to say goodbye or make a needed ending not only results in more pain, frustration, and loss, but it keeps you from moving on to something better. You can’t begin the good until you have ended the bad.
So why is it so hard to say goodbye to things, people and situations that are no longer good for you? Here are three reasons. Avoid them at all costs.
Many people choose not to think about the future or the past. Instead they focus only on the present moment. Don’t be that person. The past is there to be your teacher. The old saying is absolutely true: those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it. Asking what the future will look like if things don’t change can also help give you the needed perspective for change.
Acting on emotion alone
When making a decision, how should one determine if he should go with his head or his heart? Those who allow logic to dominate their decision making tend to be boring, while those who lead with their hearts often end up in over their heads. Wisdom and discernment are necessary in finding balance. Don’t leave your heart out of your decision making, but trusting your heart alone is an even more dangerous path to take.
Poor (or lack of) advice
Most people naturally gravitate to others who are a lot like them. This can serve you well in growing friendships, but can work against you when you need to make an ending. The counsel you will receive from someone who is like you will be similar to what you are already thinking. It won’t expand or challenge your thinking. It won’t give you the courage you need to make a tough call. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Many viewpoints help you make wiser choices. When at a crossroads, seek advice from someone you think may see the situation differently than you. You don’t have to move in their suggested direction but considering other viewpoints will serve you well.
Is there a goodbye that needs to happen in your life sometime soon? How will you garner the courage to cut ties and move ahead to your preferred future? Let me know if I can help speak into your situation. I might just come over in my new (for me) car.
For a more in depth look at this critical subject, read Henry Cloud’s excellent book, Necessary Endings.