Payoffs that keep us stuck

There is a lot one can do with personal power at their disposal. One way of increasing personal power, is to take responsibility for yourself and your life. I came across this suggestion in one of my readings, which suggests that;

“being aware of the payoffs that keep us stuck (payoffs explain why we choose to perpetuate what we do not want in our lives)”1

is helpful to being responsible.

I think this suggestion has potential, if one takes into account the fundamental attribution error when considering it. I think when one focuses too much on autonomy and being responsible, it is too easy to overlook external influences. However, considering the payoffs could help increase awareness of the circumstances which one feels stuck in. Being aware enables a wider range of possibilities to be considered, including possible choices, solutions, or pathways.

Anyway to give an idea of what the payoffs could be in a relationship where one is not happy and feels stuck, here are some examples;

1. Material gains. Being comfortable and able to utilise purchasing power because the relationship offers the financial security to do so is a payoff.

2. Another example could be that the relationship provides a buffer from personal fears (not knowing what to do with ones own life,  fears of being alone, fears of failing, fears of not being loved etc.).

3. A third example could be absolutely amazing sex!

I think expectations of future payoffs should be included too, where one is invested in the relationship future to the point they are willing to ignore the possibility that the other person is not going to, or is unable to, change. This usually involves seeing the good in the other person, and believing in their potential to achieve what is expected of them (or achieve what they say they’ll do). Throw love, attachment, caring or whatever other bonds that exist, into the equation and we have people remaining in their relationships for years, waiting for a future that never seems to get any closer.

1. Australian College of Applied Psychology. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Influence in communication. Sydney: Author.

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