The Perils of Sucking It Up

Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of a Re-booter is the fact that they are determined to improve their outcomes and recognize that to do so requires taking a risk. Whether the challenges or set backs we’ve experienced were imposed on us or we, ourselves, set in motion such upheaval, re-booters believe a better life is possible if we continue to try our best. We keep swimming towards that distant shore, undeterred by riptides. But not everyone is such a dedicated swimmer. In fact, there are far more people in this world who fear change and the unknown so much that they repeatedly opt to remain camped on howling beaches than plunge into the currents which can carry them to sunnier strands.


As someone who generally dislikes surprises and much prefers having a sense of what to expect next, I can sympathize with those who hold back, but my sympathy has limits. A gamble is a gamblewe can’t be assured our efforts will be rewarded, but it’s what our motivations are for taking that step (versus sitting tight) which makes the difference.


Risk assessment is something we do on a daily basis. Is the gap large enough for me to cross traffic safely? Should I ask the boss about a raise? If I approach my spouse about sleeping in separate rooms will we be ok? Can I tell my friend I’m concerned about their drinking? Or should I just suck it up? Re-booters know that nothing is ever perfect: no person, no situation, and certainly not us. And because we understand this, we recognize that we must make accommodations for the sake of others. We do this out of respect. We do this because we value what we have and want to keep it. But there’s another reason many people remain mum: they are terrified by the prospect of unhappiness that may follow their request for change.


Alas, we all know people (or perhaps we have committed some version of this sin ourselves) who use their wrath or their hurt or neediness as a way to discourage requests for change and exercise control over the situation. Silent treatment anyone? Crying jags? Righteous indignation? Hostile counter measures? Any of this ring a bell for you? Who wants to risk consequences such as these? Do you see how effective this is as a technique? Just typing it makes me cringe. Yuck.


When faced with such prospects, it makes total sense that folks select the path of avoidance. “I can take this,” we tell ourselves. “It doesn’t matter that much. It’s unimportant.” Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. We justify our evasion by reminding ourselves that compromise and sacrifice are necessary parts of any relationship. “I can tough it out.” How many times have you told yourself something similar?


But underneath all this valiant talk, might it be possible that you’re afraid? Afraid of taking the risk that comes with expressing your preferences or concerns? Where is that line between accommodating someone else for the sake of peace (aka the status quo) and tactfully communicating what you want—especially when speaking up may ruffle feathers? How does a Re-booter decide what to do?


This is the deal: just because you can withstand an uncomfortable situation doesn’t mean you should. You need to remember that you’re strong enough to survive the fallout. You can handle this!


In my opinion, after a certain point, you’re probably not doing anyone any favors by turning yourself into a pretzel in order to keep the peace. I know from personal, excruciating experience that allowing a situation to fester inflicted active harm on me and encouraged increasingly bad behavior. Had I somehow summoned the courage to speak up for myself, this state of affairs might have been remedied with far less drama (probably not, given the personalities involved). Part of the price I paid for sucking it up as long as I did was not only a diminution of self, but an exponential growth in my bitchiness towards the rest of the world. (This has subsequently been corrected, you will be relieved to know.) All because I was terrified of the fallout. I was so afraid, I kept telling myself I could stand it. But I couldn’t.


We all know there are situations where it feels like there is no relief, no light at the end of the tunnel. We try to tough it out. We tell ourselves that we are being responsible. And, up to a point, this is good and what we should be doing under difficult circumstances, but subsuming all of your needs because you are afraid of what will happen (or worse, you don’t believe your needs are as important) helps no one. Problems won’t fade away because you swallowed your unhappiness yet again. The truth can never be denied; eventually, it will come out. Guaranteed. You know that.


What differentiates re-booters from the rest of humanity is that we have confidence in our ability to survive upheaval—even blossoming as a result of such change! As they say in one of my favorite movies of all time, Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Keep this is mind when debating whether or not to suck it up one more time.


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