Why are you trapped?
Many people, right now, find themselves trapped in a relationship. You are trapped because you are not happy and find it difficult to leave.
People stay in unhappy or unfulfilling relationships for many reasons - fear of loneliness, economic dependence, lack of resources, the shame of a failed relationship or marriage, limited options, religious or cultural reasons and out of concern for children and other family members. Some people remain trapped out of fear for their lives as they may be in violent relationships. Many of these people accept their condition because this is what they observed in their family of origin.
Why are you unhappy?
You may be unhappy because you have not found joy and peace of mind. You may be in a relationship where you are abused emotionally, verbally or physically. You may be in a relationship in which you do not feel loved and your affection is not returned. The source of unhappiness may be due to the fact that you are living with a mate who is cheating or whom you suspect to be cheating.
Why are you confused?
You are confused because even though you want to get out and be happy, you are uncertain of the appropriate decisions to be taken. The situation may be so tangled that it is difficult to see a way out. You hold on hoping that one day, your partner or the situation will change. You are conflicted because family, friends or members of your religious community have advised you to hang on.
1. Value your happiness today. We all have a right to be happy. The ultimate pursuit of every living being is to be happy. Make a list of things that will make you happy. Include in this list all the things you have always wanted to do or achieve.
2. Find your centre. We all need to find this centre. In finding your centre, you will reach that point where you accept your need to be happy and are able to identify the things that truly make you happy. You should actively pursue your dreams, aspirations, desires and vision. This is called self-actualisation. Many persons will never be truly happy until they are fully actualised.
3. Release. Let go today of the things that may be keeping you trapped. The house, the status, the material trappings, the money or whatever else may be keeping you in your state of unhappiness.
4. Move on. Moving on does not necessarily mean moving out. It means regaining control of your life and your situation, and making the best decisions that are appropriate for you at this time. It involves empowering yourself and rising from the ashes of despair and helplessness. You need to move on with your life.
5. Heal. Once separated from these 'toxic' relationships we can start the process of psychological separation and personal healing. Allow yourself the opportunity to heal. Accept the pain, accept your failures, accept the mistakes that have been made as you move on or move out.
6. Seek professional help: You may need to enter therapy, even if it is for a short while. A competent professional should be able to help you explore your options in life and work with you as you make the decisions that are best suited for you at this time.
Things will not change, unless you change.
Dr. Wendel Abel is a consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer, University of the West Indies; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.