When Is It’s Good to Give Up?
By: Donna Burick
“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” ~ Elvis Presley
“I ended up dropping out of high school. I’m a high school dropout, which I’m not proud to say, … I had some teachers that I still think of fondly and were amazing to me. But I had other teachers who said, ‘You know what? This dream of yours is a hobby. When are you going to give it up?’ I had teachers who I could tell didn’t want to be there. And I just couldn’t get inspired by someone who didn’t want to be there” ~ Hilary Swank
You might assume that when you’re on your deathbed reviewing your life the things you didn’t do would be your biggest regrets. Well, I don’t think that’s true. I think your biggest regrets stem from the negative things you didn’t give up on. Too often we trudge through our life tenaciously clinging to our negative messages, hurts, and disappointments. These are the things that choke out our dreams & desires. Have you given up on the wrong things in life?
When dealing with your negative stories giving up is a good thing. We often let go of our dreams and our desires while expending our energy holding onto our justification of why we can’t. Here’s an example of how that plays out in our lives.
There is an old story about two monks – an old monk and a young monk. Now these monks were not supposed to come in contact with women, but as they were traveling down a wooded path, they came upon a woman who was trying to cross a section of a river. This woman was not able to jump over the river and she did not have any other way to cross. There was no bridge or stepping stones. The young monk approached the woman, picked her up and carried her across. He bade her goodbye and then returned on his journey alongside the older monk. After many hours of traveling, the young monk says to the older monk, “Is something wrong? It seems like you’ve been angry for a while.” The older monk turned to the young monk and said, “You better believe I’m angry! Haven’t you learned anything during your time with me? We are not supposed to come into contact with women.” To which the younger monk replied, “But Master, I put that woman down hours ago, it is you who has been carrying her all this time.”
So how do we know if we are giving up on the wrong things? Here is a quick 4 step process to test yourself on what you’ve given up on and how it’s affecting your life. The test is to see how quickly you can answer these 4 questions. If you can quickly answer questions 1 & 2, then you are holding onto things that don’t serve you. But if you can quickly answer 3 & 4 then you are holding onto things that bring you joy.
1. Write down 3 things that annoy you about the world, your life, your workplace, etc.
We go through our daily life bombarded with things that annoy, frighten and anger us. Notice how you are letting those things into your day. Are you spending time watching the news? Do you scan the internet for stories of political turmoil, financial crisis or crime?
2. Write down 3 reasons you do not have all the things you want.
We all have those points in our life that we credit for our current path. The sorority that didn’t accept you, the harsh words from your parents, the team we didn’t get pick to be on. How current are those stories in your life today? Can you readily tell 3 of them? Do you use them to delight your friends, thus keeping their power alive?
3. Write down 3 things you really want.
Can you come up with 3 things you really want? Most people can’t immediately articulate 3 things when asked. They either offer some vague notion of an outcome or just say, “I don’t know” when asked.
4. Write down 3 things you could do this week to make your dreams come true.
All major projects are made up of many small steps. Break down your big dreams into small steps and list 3 that you can do this week. Focus on what you can do and do it. These actions will keep you on track.
How did you do? Were you able to determine where your thoughts are leading you?
Now is the time to give up those things that bring you down. It is as if you are walking through your life with heavy metal chains dragging you down. Let go of these things so you have a free hand to grab onto the things that make you feel as if you are floating. If you are having trouble letting go, then seek the help of a life coach, counselor or some other professional.
[This article is a reprint of my August 2012 Living Well column in Natural Triad.]
Watch the inspirational video below. You will be amazed at what is possible when you watch this man’s transformation from giving up on himself to giving up on his perceived limitations.
Please leave me a comment on your thoughts. Thanks!
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