Time and time again we’ve heard the cliché, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” While the excess use of this phrase has dulled its effect, individuals who are faced with the grass is greener condition undergo a considerable struggle with commitment.
What causes this issue?
The generalization of the “grass is greener on the other side” is the notion that there is always something better that we are missing. So instead of feeling stability, safety, and gratification in the current surroundings, the impression is that there is something more and something better elsewhere and everything else that is less than ideal will not do. Whether that is with careers, where we live, what we want, relationships, there’s always one foot out the door.
The problematic part with this is that the greener grass is generally grounded on imaginary thoughts and some sort of distress or fear. The panic comes from numerous options, including fear of being stuck in an obligation/commitment, fear of boredom, fear of loss of independence, and fear of domination.
Alongside with these reservations comes the matter of giving and taking, compromising and finding the middle ground. In people who are afraid of commitment, involving certain needs and values for the sake of the union can feel like repressive expense. When this occurs, the perception is that there is something else out there that will consent us to have all that we desire, need, and value, and that it will happen on our terms.
This is where the factor of functionality comes in, and with this functionality comes projection. We’re always going to crave what we don’t have, and there’s an imagination that we’ll get what we don’t have, and that the fragments that we’re presently happy with won’t be lost in this change. Though, what ends up occurring is that after the “honeymoon phase” of building the change, we find ourselves desiring to go back to the other side of the fence again because we learned that there are other things that we don’t have, and because the freshness of the change wears off. This ends up being true, because we will always want what we don’t have, even if we’ve already jumped the fence numerous times.
This is where the prognosis comes in. When the grass is greener on the other side, we’re most of the time engaging personal unhappiness with ourselves onto something outside of us — commonly a partner, career, living surroundings, etc. We count on improving our peripheral atmospheres to calm a deeper inner unhappiness. Though the setting changes when jumping the fence, after a brief inner high, without continuous reassurance and novelty, the disappointment becomes the same.
I personally feel that the cliché should be reformed to this: “The grass is only as green as we keep it.”
The grass at all times begins as a nice and shiny green, the “honeymoon phase, “but will start to wear a little with use. Then, it still requires to be sustained in order to stay a nice shade of green. The dampened green (or even brown) grass on our present side of the fence would be greener if we continue to nurture and cultivate it. The shiny green grass on the other side of the fence is our desire for our inner characters — to be happy, unharmed, and fully gratified.
The fact is, as human beings, we are completely in some means less than perfect, and thus, the shiny grass is a delusion. Our duty is to keep the grass as green as probable, which may take some external help. But regardless of anything, it won’t remain as green as the second we first set foot on it.
There are surely circumstances where a different state is a better state than the current one (for instance, a healthy relationship vs. an abusive one; a job that’s more satisfying to you vs. an unsatisfactory one). But the “grass is greener syndrome” has its own specific staging, mainly embedded in patterns:
• Repetition. A pattern in your life of constantly wanting better and repeatedly seeking change in relationships, jobs, and environment.
• Perfection. It is one thing to go from an abusive relationship to a positively-functioning relationship, but it’s another to feel that a string of functioning relationships are never good enough. There may be a search for the imagined ideal taking place.
• Wanting to have and eat your cake. This is in line with the struggle of compromise. If you must have every want and superficial need that excites you, then it’s likely that the grass will never be green enough except if you’re the only one on the grass — and even then, it won’t be green enough because of what may be missing from this depiction.
• Wanting to run away. If you see examples of being unable to settle in one geographic place, relationship, job, etc., there are deeper causes for this than just not being in the “right” setting.
• Ultimate dissatisfaction. If you enjoy endless change, and living out this sort of life, then there’s theoretically nothing wrong with this. But if the reason for the continuous change originates from recurrence of disappointment, and if you’re looking to grow into more secure, stable, and settled, then this is a matter to explore.
The best method to deal with the “grass is greener syndrome” is to learn the fundamental causes beyond the nonconcrete ideas of idealizations, perfectionism, and the inability to commit. Life is chaotic, messy and disordered, but that’s only because it’s real. If someone else’s grass is greener, it’s either because it’s fake, or because you’ve never been up close and personal with it. If we get up close, we’ll see that it has just as many imperfections and weaknesses as ours does. Remember, the difference between a lovely garden and a the wilderness is the time that we spend caring for it. So if your lawn is sprawling, maybe rather than leaving it, you just need to take care of it a little bit more. And while you’re at it, work on fixing the fence as well.