It's a dilemma millions face: stuck in a terrible relationship (or job) but can't get themselves out. How can you make the Great Escape? You don't have to slip out the back Jack, or get a new key, Lee, and you don't have to get on a bus, Gus, but you do need to mix the evolutionary functions of emotions, namely anger; disgust, contempt and fear. Naturally, if you wanted to stay put, I would give you the conventional wisdom, "manage these emotions," but since you want out, you will have to take Mother Nature's advice, "Follow your emotions!"
FYI, a primary reason it is difficult to leave a bad relationship/job is that you're hardwired to be loss-averse. Back on the Savannah, you never knew when you'd get your next drink of water or bite to eat so you would hold on to what you did have with dear life. This loss aversion tendency gave people a survival edge. As relationships developed, being hard wired for loss aversion would help keep the relationship together so that a family could be developed. Being hardwired to stay is what makes it difficult to leave.
However, we're also hardwired to shelter seek, to seek out environments that help one grow and develop. People who are "stuck" are typically "instinctively disconnected," from their shelter seeking instincts so it is hard to leave. Using anger, disgust, contempt and fear advantageously helps one make the necessary move.
First you need some anger, an emotion created to help mobilize one's energy so that one would be capable of defending oneself with great vigor. Anger is evoked when one feels either physically or psychologically restrained from doing what one intensely desires like leaving an unhappy relationship. Anger arousal is needed so you can mobilize the energy required to walk out the door. Focus your thoughts on how your relationship frustrates you, how it stops you from expressing your potential. "I'm angry and I'm not going to take it anymore!" would be one of your motivational statements to leave.
Next, some disgust, which evolved from the hunger drive and the behavior associated with it. Thus the blueprint of a disgusting situation is something that "tastes bad." For life evolution, disgust helped motivate organisms to maintain an environment sufficiently sanitary for health, prevented them from eating spoiled food and drinking polluted water and played a role in the maintenance of body hygiene. When something disgusts us, we want to remove it or change it in such a way that it is no longer disgusting.
Use disgust by ruminating how disgusting your relationship is; focus on how it has deteriorated, spoiled to the point that it "stinks," and such disgust is unacceptable for your mental hygiene so you have to get rid of it, just like a terrible body odor. Caution: do not let the disgust turn the anger into a boil; if it does, you will act counter-productively.
With anger and disgust, you are walking to the door, but to keep going, add some contempt. Contempt evolved to help an individual or group face a dangerous adversary, but today, it is useful in situations in which an individual needs to feel superior-stronger, more intelligent, more civilized, and more mentally healthy. Contempt is a "cold" emotion, one that tends to depersonalize the individual you hold in contempt. Accordingly, it can motivate tough, even cruel acts. For many, leaving a relationship is a tough act and at times, seems as if you are being self centered and cruel. That's why you need contempt, to defeat guilt and remorse that could pull you back if you let them linger.
Create contempt by acknowledging, "leaving the relationship is the only civilized thing to do," and that you are only able to do this because of your superior moral fiber. Be proud you that you can be cold-hearted when needed. Cock your eyebrows, stretch your face, and keep your head lifted up so that you give the appearance that you are looking down on someone. This look will communicate to your partner that you are pulling away creating distance between the two of you which is exactly what you want.
For a final push, give yourself a sprinkling of fear, the most toxic of all emotions. Yet fear is not all bad. It serves as a danger warning signal that redirects thoughts and actions and also facilitates social bonds by releasing flight to another and contributing to a collective-defense.
You don't need too much fear-just enough to remind you your existence is threatened and you need to "flee." Remember you are hardwired to stay so the thought of leaving is often anxiety arousing creating thoughts of uncertainty and you end up staying in the situation uncertain about what to do. Giving yourself just enough fear will override your anxiety and help you walk through the door. Accomplish this by imagining what your life will be like if you continue to stay put. Your entire existences will e threatened and you will not survive-your only chance is to leave. Perhaps visualizing your relationship (or job) as a horrific monster will help you get the feeling.
Help yourself by frequently mixing up these emotions every day, and for good measure, make the appropriate facial expressions, too. This will all help get you in the perfect frame of mind and the right mood to make the great escape.
Anger disgust, contempt and fear-that's the way you go, Joe!