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The Wisdom Of Giving Up

Updated: Feb 19


If you're like me, you hate to lose. You're not a quitter. "Where there's a will, there's a way!"


But what happens when the will is there, but no way? The definition of insanity, it has been said, is doing the same thing every time while expecting different results. There comes a point at which we must accept the fact that what we are doing is not helping.


This is the wisdom of giving up.


Some of life's greatest turning points happen at the moment you just plain give up. Dramatic cases in point- the bottomed out addict or the abused spouse who finally leaves for good.


Giving up is also what leads the woman with body image issues to quit shaming herself. Giving up allows the self-critical voice in your head to quiet. Giving up leads a person to stop spending energy ignoring the facts right before their eyes. Giving up often precipitates "Eureka!" moments.


In the book Alcoholics Anonymous it says, "we ceased fighting anything or anyone- even alcohol." Isn't that counterintuitive? I mean, if there is anything an alcoholic ought to be fighting it is alcohol, right? If it were intuitive, it would be easy.


Enter Step 1- admitting powerlessness. I cannot stress enough how vital this step is to change. Unless I become willing to accept powerlessness, I will continue to try putting a square peg in a round hole! Unless I can tolerate the discomfort of surrendering to the unknown, no other way of doing things is even possible.


"Yuck! Surrender? Come on, man, you gotta be kidding me! I'm no quitter!" Ok, you're welcome to continue suffering.


We are products of our environment:

  • Our culture preaches "fight the good fight," "winners never quit and quitters never win," "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."


  • Traumatic experiences can leave their marks on the body, triggering survival mechanisms in us that don't let us rest.


  • Some personalities are competitive at birth and raised to be perfect.



Whatever the cause, it is up to you to recognize when your efforts are wasted and it's time to surrender. This may not be easy because fighting may have become so wired into your system that it is second nature. Even in a "resting" state you might feel like you're under pressure.


Giving up is wise. It relaxes the body and mind, which allows cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) to cool off. This in turn allows the frontal cortex to organize information and regulate action more intelligently. Reducing the inflammation caused by hyperintentionality (over-drivenness) brings about the cerebral biochemistry most conducive to creativity and inspiration. In other words, GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!


Only by giving up do you turn over the reins to your higher self or higher power, whatever that may be. Until you relax your own agenda, it has little room to work magic.


I fear I may have come across as religious. I hope not. What I'm talking about is basic common sense and doesn't require life altering shift. No, giving up is very mundane.


If the person I'm talking to holds opinions different than mine, I could talk myself to death before they ever switch sides. Or, I could give up. I could agree to disagree. Simple.


If I'm storming over what to do with my life and making myself hurt with fear or regret, I could just give up. It's not helping anything, so stop it!


When I say "give up," I mean stop fighting. A fighter has an enemy. A person without enemies has no need to fight. So, give up viewing things as enemies.


Something is an enemy if there is a threat that it will take what you have. Give up believing that what is important to you is can be taken away. The best things in life are free. You are loved.


Give up viewing yourself as an enemy. Just stop it. I know you were taught to push yourself. I know you were taught that your worth depends on xyz. Maybe you were taught wrong. Maybe you're already awesome. Stop viewing yourself as an enemy.


Give up fighting to be something you're not.

Give up fighting to be a non-fighter.


Give up fighting to make sense of these words you're reading. It's ok.

What if everything is ok, that nothing in your life is actually a "problem?"


I'm not suggesting watching tv to pretend you've actually surrendered because all that is is distraction. Distracting yourself doesn't rid yourself of an enemy. Somewhere in your mind you are still fighting, but you've walled it off, and in so doing you've also walled yourself in.


Of course, there are times to fight and fight hard. But how often are we actually under attack? For many of us, our mischievous little brain likes to corner us in a mental boxing ring! And that's ok. All you have to do is give up and step outside the ring.


Want more help for what's troubling you? These blog articles may help.

Gary Howard, MA, LPC
260-445-8249
contact@wildwaysintegration.com
1650 38th St.
Suite 100E
Boulder, CO 80301

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