I remember one day, talking to a former coworker who was also a friend, about her relationship. She was telling me all the things her boyfriend, whom she shared a home with, was doing wrong and his constant mistreatment. The relationship was dysfunctional, dishonest and missing love. It wasn’t abusive, just bad.

Some Unexpected Advice

I listened quietly to her recount story after story about the things he had done and how fed up she was. Our mutual girlfriends had told her to leave him. I, on the other hand, had other advice. After she had finished giving me the details of why he was not a good boyfriend, I told her, “You’ll know when it’s time to leave.”

She looked at me. Admittedly, it wasn’t the advice that most would give. I continued, “Right now you don’t seem ready, and that’s okay. But one day it’ll happen. You’ll get tired soon enough. He’ll ask you to pass the salt, and you’ll nearly lose your mind. And you’ll know. It’s time to go.” She wasn’t expecting to hear this.

What I basically wanted her to know was it’s not always the big dramatic things that make us leave bad relationships, it’s the daily infractions, the inconsideration, that will get your attention. The big stuff acts as a glaring signal to exit stage left, but the little things add up and surround us like a bubble, wearing us down. It’s the little nicks that will drive you over the edge — chipping away at your peace of mind. With all the drama that he had put her through, it obviously wasn’t enough to get her to leave. Which meant deep down, despite her complaints, she wasn’t ready to leave. I told her if she leaves when she really wants to leave it’ll have more finality than if she leaves because she thinks she’s supposed to leave. She didn’t leave him that year, but later she left him for good.

I learned this lesson by experiencing it firsthand. It’s the piece of advice I give the most — not just for romantic relationships, but usually for professional ties. I may talk and talk and talk about how annoyed I am at a particular job, but it’s not until I make the quiet decision to do something about it, that my talking is pushed into action. We all know that one coworker who complains every day about hating their job. Well, this is the advice I give them: “Do something or stop talking about it.”

Are You Really Fed Up?

Don’t get me wrong, I am the venting queen, but I make sure I survey the good and the bad and base my movement on that and not on one silly incident that just irked me on a Tuesday. Venting can be good. Who wants to hold all of your annoyances inside? But if you really have had enough, you’ll know it. And taking action and moving on will be an easy transition.

Don’t believe me? Look at the current political climate. Protests and actions have been taken since the very first day the current administration took office. Some of us were opposed from the onset. (Me — for a few years now.) Others are just now feeling jaded. Those who chose to protest did so because they felt compelled. Others volunteered and participated in acts of kindness campaigns like One20. Some called their government officials, while others are still ranting on social media. They may come around; they may not. For now, they haven’t been moved to action.

A friend once told me, “anything you got yourself into, you can get yourself out of.” That’s one of my favorite mantras. When I feel strongly about things, whether it’s a good thing or bad, I get quiet, I listen, and I start. Whatever it is, I start — updating my resume, evaluating my relationship, taking stock in my beliefs and what’s most important to me. Whatever it is, I just start.

But I always do it on my time.

We live in a social media-soaked society where oversharing and having an unshakeable opinion is the norm. But when action is warranted, there’s no need for much conversation. You just do it.