top of page

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Mukti Shah


This has been the question that has come up the most in my practice in 2021. Should I stay in the marriage? Should I quit my job? Should I defer University for a year? Should I launch my start up?

The question really boils down to, "should I trade in my old, familiar but dysfunctional life for a chance at something more aligned to what I have always wanted?"


This is not a new thought. Most of us at some point in our lives start feeling a vague unease that things are not the way they should be. But this gentle knock on the door of our Conscious is easy to ignore. So, we trudge on slowly towards a life of ‘quiet desperation.’ I hear clients lay out the reasons why they should stay- responsibility, discomfort, fear of the unknown, lack of support, security, etc. All perfectly good reasons. And the knocking subsides. Till something happens that increases the discomfort and makes it impossible to ignore the decision anymore."If the essential (intrinsically given) core of the person is denied or suppressed, he gets sick, sometimes in obvious ways sometimes in subtle ways…This inner core is delicate and subtle and easily overcome by habit and cultural pressure…Even though denied, it persists underground, forever pressing for actualization…Every falling away (from our core), every crime against our nature records itself in our unconscious and makes us despise ourselves.” -Abraham Maslow


There could be many moments, glimpses where the soul encourages us ‘to give up trying to be well adjusted to a neurotic culture’. To finally be freed from having to do whatever supposedly reinforced one’s shaky identity, and then be granted liberty to do things that align more deeply. (James Hollis). Pre-pandemic this realisation would often trigger panic followed by a mad scramble to dampen the sound of these summons. What can be done to distract from this dis-ease? Travel? Getting married? An exciting affair? Having a child? A weight loss regime? An expensive retreat with a modern guru? A nervous breakdown? A certification? An expensive car? A more senior role-more responsibility? Befriending alcohol, food, shopping or drugs?

Post pandemic with a lot of these options out of reach there has been a sustained bout of soul searching and reflection. Many have lost loved ones or have faced their own mortality. There is a ripeness for change- to align the outer with the inner. From the outside it may look as if their lives are imploding. There is fear, regret, guilt, self-doubt and lots of second guessing that continues with this process even after the decision to leave has been made.


"There could be many moments, glimpses where the soul encourages us ‘to give up trying to be well adjusted to a neurotic culture’. To finally be freed from having to do whatever supposedly reinforced one’s shaky identity, and then be granted liberty to do things that align more deeply"

While the therapeutic space is often used to make hard decisions I see an increased readiness to do so in the past year. The pandemic created conditions that converted this soft tap on the door into persistent pounding- impossible to not attend to or unhear.


The midlife crisis is no longer limited to the midlife...

Comments


bottom of page