When-Then Syndrome & How to Stop It

boundaries self worth Apr 29, 2021
Clock and the words

Do you know the "when-then" syndrome? You'll hear it a lot from people who have been in a job for a long time, or have kids at home:

"When I retire I'll take up fishing."
"When the kids are off to college I'll start gardening again."

Here's what I have heard from myself: 

"When I have a steady income from my business I'll be happier in my relationship."

And now that I have realized that actually, I just plain wasn't happy in my relationship, and I have decided to step away, I am hearing:

"I'll give you all my money. I would cut off a limb. I will quit drinking. I will do anything if you'll come home."

Don't be somebody's "when" in order to get the "then." That's just not how it works.  People die unhappy all the time because they waited to start following their passions until they "had more time," "found the girl," accomplished this, that, or the other thing. Their time either filled up with other things, or they just died before they got the chance. 

What are you holding back from because you're people-pleasing those you're with? What do you wish so much that you could be doing now, and you will, as soon as ____________ happens, you name it? And what "then" are you being promised? 

It is 100% perfectly okay to request the "then" to take place without the "when." You can make this request of yourself, right now. You can make this request of your loved ones, right now. Whether or not they choose to acquiesce is up to them, but you can still make the request.

This is sensitive right now, but in my case, I have requested 6 months of sobriety before we even have a conversation about moving forward together. There has not been one full month of it. If I go back, then the drinking will stop. 

Let me ask you something. Do you believe that if I go back, then the drinking will stop?

I doubt that you do. You don't know and love this person. I bet I wouldn't believe your "when-then" syndromed partner either. It takes a lot of grit, courage, and love to step back, see what is REALLY going on, accept it, and act in congruency with your values. If you're super fortunate, you have friends and family you can talk to about what's going on, and they'll help you see and process this. If not, you can bet on even MORE self-negotiation going on than you would be doing when you have that supportive circle around you.

This is why I want to share my story with you, others' stories with you, and resources for recovering from people-pleasing.

How do you stop the when-then syndrome? You don't wait for the "when." You do the "then," you request the "then," now, and act accordingly.

Life is too short to spend doing things that drain you. It's far too long for it, too.

Feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your "when's" and if this has inspired you at all to stop waiting and go for the "then!"

You can also join me in my Facebook Group. You are not alone. 

Join our Facebook Group: Women Practicing FIERCE Self-Love

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