Love it, Change it, Leave it

7 Jul

This article is part of the series “31 blogs in 31 days” during July 2017 on

I am a big fan of words. Whether through writing or talking, words help give form to our emotions and thoughts. They make especially the more vague, unstructured, wobbly things graspable and can also help us discover what we actually think. As a coach / therapist, I often repeat the exact words of my clients back to them, like a mirror. That alone can have quite an effect. “Did I really just say that?!” or “No, no, I don’t mean that!” or “Actually, I don’t think that word hits the nail on the head, I think it’s rather…..” are common reactions. It can disrupt a mental spiral or it can help specify.

Talking things through, allowing a process for the correct words to show themselves and to bubble up to the surface, can have a healing effect. Or at least it can give some relief. Releasing emotions, shaping them by putting them into words can make the most overwhelming situation somewhat easier to handle. In some cases, all it takes is a person to listen and to maybe give feedback, possibly even an opinion and advice. The latter should only ever be given upon invitation. Also in a private context.

But sometimes, talking may not be enough anymore. Even if we can point to the conflict, the dilemma, the pain, we may not know what to do with it. We can get somewhat stuck. A useful hack, method, decision making tool, intervention – whatever you want to call it – can be: Love it, Change it or Leave it. 

Not every conflict in the world can be tackled by that, but in some cases, especially when things seem overwhelming and complicated, limiting the choices for action to these three categories can help with focus. I would argue that in most cases one of the three is at least a considerable option, or actually the other way around, at least one of the three is absolutely not an option – at least not right now. No option is better than the other ones. You don’t have to have tried your best to love, have tried to change absolutely everything you possibly can before you are allowed to leave. This is not a moral exercise, it’s about having three equally valid choices.

Love it

Whatever it is, whoever he/she is, whatever the problem – accept it. Stop fighting and start loving. Tap into your ability to forgive and make the conscious decision to integrate it without judgement or anger. You can not make anybody love you or something else, but whether you love something or somebody is your choice.

This can also be only temporary. Perhaps you know that long-term, change or even leave may be the better action, but right now is not the right time for either. Then that’s ok – but then shut up, stop complaining and start loving. At least for now. It can ease the storm, it can calm things down and give you back the energies that a fight usually swallows.

Change it

Uuuuhh, there are sooooo many things we could change. Of course we can’t change everything, our area of influence is limited, but in most cases it’s a lot bigger than we think. Have you really tried everything, absolutely everything in your power, to bring about a positive change? Probably not. Perhaps you haven’t actually done anything, you have just thought or talked about it, and maybe not even to the right person. Doing is different.

This is where working with clients really is fun! Working out all the options for change, as crazy as they may seem at first, without judgment or the necessity for a quick decision really can release a ton of ideas and energy. Even if it’s at first just a theoretical exercise, but simply seeing that there are options, that there are things I can actively change gives me a feeling of strength, control and a feeling of me-ness. What do I want? What can I change? And again, I may not be able to change everything, in fact I am not able to change everything, but I can influence a lot. Starting already by vocalising the wish for a change followed by a concrete idea about what this could look like.

“I am not happy in our relationship” – is really pretty vague. It’s an important statement but it can leave you and the other person a bit helpless. Or it can lead to quick, and unjust conclusions. “I want to be happier with you again. I want to bring back the fun we once had when we used to spend more time with friends. Let’s see if we can spend one evening a week with our friends.” It’s a lot more specific and it comes with a direct suggestion.

Options for change usually exist. A possible process for change can include:

  • a concrete description of the actual problem at hand,
  • the desired state of things,
  • realistic assessment of things already tried,
  • looking at all the other options for change (What would somebody else do in my situation?)
  • what does each change “cost”, what is needed for that change
  • deciding on one change
  • acting on it

Leave it

Leaving is not always the last resort, when all other things have failed. It can be, but it can also be an immediate option. When presented with the three choices, loving usually gets rejected first (seems absurd), then leaving – it often just seems too drastic. Change often seems like the safest option – at first.

When leaving really becomes a considerable option, this usually releases a big emotional response. A strange mix of hope, excitement and fear. For some people, this direct confrontation can be the very first time they allow themselves to consider leaving as an option. Depending on their usual pattern of behaviour, their past experiences and on the people they have spoken to (and their interest in the matter), they may simply have never considered that they themselves can make the decision to leave the problematic situation, whatever it is.

It’s fascinating watching people wrestle with the Leaving part. Some people act fast, some go back and forth, some need reassurance, some need support, some just need to give themselves the permission to think about it, before they then realise it’s not actually what they want, it’s not the right thing right now. That’s absolutely fine. It’s about allowing the mental space to serve as a rehearsal room, to see what it could really be like to love, change or leave xyz. The ultimate responsibility rests with the person who has to act – and whether it’s Loving, Changing or Leaving, they are all acts and decisions. Even if nothing changes visibly on the outside. Even if nothing happens right now. Knowing about the options, thinking them through can sometimes be enough to occupy the mind with something else, to stop focusing on the problem itself and to start thinking about a way out.

Picture: qimono via Pixabay / CC0


One Response to “Love it, Change it, Leave it”


  1. Values at war: when you want two conflicting things at the same time | How to Fab - July 10, 2017

    […] on going out. This is a 50% cut! If I end up getting frustrated, I can go see if the framework Love it, Change it, Leave it helps me out. Perhaps it’s not a 50/50, but a one month this way and another month that way. […]

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