3 Times Walking Away Makes You Stronger

by Brianna Wiest

We often pin the word “weakness” to our minds when we think about what it means to give up on a relationship. We fear that we weren’t strong enough, or wise enough, or sane enough to make it work. We worry that we left wrongfully, or that we should have stayed for the comfortable familiarity, even if it wasn't working for us. But weakness, despite what our doubts tell us, isn’t giving up. Weakness is staying in a relationship you don’t want to be in because the uncertainty that you’d face is too much to bear. Weakness is allowing yourself to be manipulated by someone who is using you to quell their own insecurities and issues. Weakness is not being able to rise and run to the life you really want to live because you haven’t yet told yourself that you can. There is nothing about walking away from something or someone, about walking into the unknown, that is weak.

Walking away—even when you’re unsure, even when you really want someone, even when it feels like it all but will kill you—is the most incredible thing you can do. It is, in fact, one of the bravest things you can do, and means you're a decidedly strong person. Here are three very good reasons why.

You care more about what's best for you long-term than what feels safe and familiar in the short term

Too often, people think that walking away from something—a relationship, a job, a toxic friendship—means that you weren't ever that committed to it in the first place. They think that if you really loved something, you would stick with it. This, of course, is total nonsense, probably uttered by someone who has never loved anything, and likely doesn't respect themselves very much either. Usually the people who first walk away are the ones who are the most attached. Despite this, they choose a better life for themselves, even if they aren’t sure of what that “better life” would consist of right away. They have an instinctive knowing that there’s something better for them, and they follow that knowing, despite it being quiet compared to the loud voices they’ve been conditioned to follow prior.

You’re able to accept that things aren't going to work out how you wanted

I don’t think there are things that require more strength than the humbling, quiet, simple realization that, after holding onto an idea for all this time and putting in so much work to make something functional, that you simple aren't going to get the result you want. Being able to accept when something does not work requires infinitely more maturity and strength than sticking around and trying fruitlessly to make something work that never will. That's what children do; that's what weak, frightened people do. Being able to face that, despite your best efforts, it’s time to walk away takes tremendous fortitude. The emotional threshold required to accept that the person you once thought was your forever will gradually become someone you only used to know is profoundly deep, one most people can’t even skim the surface of.

You know to walk away before things get worse

You’re able to evaluate the future with enough objectivity to realize that you’re headed down an unpromising path, at best, and a completely destructive one at worst. Getting out before things crash and burn is not "giving up"—it’s removing yourself from the line of fire. It’s what it means to be astute. It's knowing what it means to value your safety and happiness above anything else. Few people change, or walk away from something they care about, before they have no choice but to do so. The strongest people don't want until something hits rock bottom to try climbing a different path. The strongest people know to listen to the Universe’s whispers before they become screams.

Images: Lulu Lovering/Flickr; Giphy(3)