I want to talk to you today about giving up.
In a world of competition and the relentless pursuit of more, of being more perfect or more complete, sometimes the best thing you can do is to not do that.
We are all just big grown up kids afraid of our own learned fears.
Sometimes it feels like pursuing something will make you feel that you are safe or are in a better place, but unless you learn that you are okay where you are right now, you won’t find it over there in a shinier home, in a better job with better clothing, or in a more exciting city or relationship.
Small Moments When Giving Up Was a Good Thing for Me
You need to give up when what you are doing is all operating from your mind. I have two stories that come to mind, one old and one new.
An example of when I was forced to get out of my head
I used to love playing sports for fun. When it came to a real team and the real game though, I was terrified. I thought where do I stand? What should I be doing right now? Is everyone looking at me? Even sitting on the bench, I would hope the whole time that the coach wouldn’t call my name. I did my best just to get by each practice and each game and I’d go home and try to be better.
The only time I played a good game was the time I got smacked in the face with a volleyball from the distance of the gym.
Both teams were warming up and this thing came from the other team’s side out of nowhere. I had a monster headache the rest of the night. I was mad red inside and out. I was furious, and I had the best game ever. I hit every single ball, whether it was mine or not, and it was one of the only games we won that season.
I don’t recommend hurting yourself on purpose to get out of your head. There are less harmful and more mindful ways but the point is to know there is a better performer in you when you don’t care what anyone else thinks and when you are not caught up with your performance itself.
An example of when I gave up trying to feel
A more recent story was a day I woke up feeling a bit burned out, a little numb. Like I just started to go through the motions in my routine and was being pushed around a little too much in my day.
I hit an emotional wall.
I like getting up early before I start my day, but this morning I’m referring to, I just sat there and closed my eyes and gave up before I had to get ready for the day. I said to myself, “I don’t know what to do, what am I supposed to do?”.
I’ve never been religious, I couldn’t tell you a single story in depth in the bible or where to look for it, but I do consider myself a spiritual person and think there is more value in faith than anything else. This particular morning when I hit that wall and when I got to a place where I felt a little helpless, I thought of a story where an Apostle was in a boat in a storm and he was afraid (I think he was the only one afraid) that they were going to die. Jesus (Jesus, I’m saying Jesus in my article which I am a little uncomfortable with), anyways Jesus tells the Apostle to not be afraid, that everything was going to be ok, and to have faith.
This probably isn’t what he really says, but I felt this scene as if he were talking to me and that whole day, without a doubt, was the day I felt most connected in my whole life. I felt plugged in, things made sense, or I didn’t care when they didn’t. I gave more than I took. Nothing and no one bothered me. People laughed with me, but I didn’t even care what anyone thought, and I was pretty happy. It was a pretty severe. I wouldn’t know how to force this day again but we should have more days like this.
That night I went to the gym and like I’ve said, I’ll do like a meditation or hypnosis in the sauna room. I usually listen to goal oriented or social anxiety type ones, but this day I listed to something called Seize the Day. I was floored when there was a story about a confident person surrounded by fearful people in a stormy boat who was telling people there was nothing to be afraid about, and every other person was scared. It was the reverse of the story I thought at the beginning of my day.
I couldn’t believe it, it was so random and unplanned. So in this one perfect day I started out afraid and learned the lesson to have faith so I can be that person helping other people be unafraid by sharing this message.
Message heard, pay it forward.
Benefits Gained from Letting Your Mind Sit in the Backseat
- Prevent burnout. The mind is never the first to stop you in your tracks and ask if it makes sense to be pushing relentlessly towards finishing or perfecting something. It’s important to pay attention to your heart and ask if you are being true to yourself. This will stop you from continuing to go in a direction that may not be right for you.
- Stop feeling disconnected to yourself and life. When you are operating only from your head, there is a compartmentalization and it makes it hard to feel and connect with your heart, your feelings, and other people.
- Stop muddy thinking. The more disconnected you are, the more you push yourself, the less sense even simple things can make.
- Stop not having fun. Not sure about you but I’m really good at pushing fun far away and to take things too seriously. This is bad and not good for the quality of your work.
Connect With Your Heart and Take a Break
- Recharge your batteries. You can gain some real energy by going in another direction, or even the opposite direction sometimes to gain some balance.
- Trust your instinct and connect again. Look inside to yourself to reconnect with your values and emotions. Let yourself feel, and pay attention to the truth and your instincts. Give yourself credit that you know the answers without jumping on the internet. There could be a part of you that knows what you are doing isn’t helping and by listening to your heart, you can correct your course.
- Be open and clear. If you let yourself feel less than perfect, you can be open to clear, limitless type thinking. This is where you will get all your great ideas anyways, not from being a slave driver in your work. This is where you can get more ideas and the senseless can actually give you your real sense back.
- Have fun for goodness sake! I used to get so annoyed at those classes where they ask when do you get your best solutions? When you are not trying to find them or when you are driving or showering. I always got that one wrong. Letting go and connecting and losing yourself in living sometimes will bring you the solution your mind would have never thought of. Maybe something much better, so start taking breaks.
Give Up The Reins and Create Balance
You don’t have to control everything. We control things when we are fearful and then we feel on the receiving end of life’s events.
It’s important to connect with ourselves and break down this wall so we can connect and share our true thoughts, emotions, feelings, and ideas. When you don’t want to take a break for fear of never reaching a goal, then that may be an indication that you need to take a break.
Don’t wait until you get to your destination. Do it now and recharge your batteries. Gain a new perspective. Everything you are doing is good enough right now and it may be time for a restful break.
There is no creative thought when there is tireless and relentless work. Sometimes it is the right time to rest, to settle, and to play.
Less Perfection and More Balance = Effortless Results
Creating balance is always the first place to go when you’re under pressure and stress. If you keep your eyes fixed on the target and refuse to get distracted, you will eventually burn out. There is value in hard work but there is a time to work and there is a time to rest (hey, I think that’s in the bible too).
We’re short-changing ourselves and the quality of whatever we are trying to produce when we don’t take breaks.
Here are the four areas that require balance in our lives, pay attention when you need to shift your focus to raise one of these back up. Always look to the 20% of efforts that will bring you the 80% results and find your balance:
- Energy: healthy food, exercise, sleep, and limited stress.
- Routine: easy cleaning, finances, healthy people connections, and simplifying stuff (ie wardrobe, possessions).
- Work: planning for quality, doing things that matter, reducing time and emotion wasters, and using downtime effectively. Take breaks using a Pomodoro App.
- Fun: valuing wisdom over intelligence, planning fun, playing, becoming spontaneous, and living with more fun every day.
What can you do to intentionally give up?
I have no idea, it’s hard for me to do until I just hit those moments where I know I need to but I know it’s when I’m at my very best. It may be best to just start a healthy habit of paying attention and listening to yourself.
You find new love and connections when you stop looking.
You create something new when you feel you have nothing left to give.
You find an river of answers when you thought it had dried up.
Start asking yourself each day, “What area am I neglecting and where do I need to be connecting to myself more?”
This takes under five minutes and can be the most valuable time in your day, if you don’t force it but if you can just be a little vulnerable.
During the day, don’t be afraid to let go, do those small, tasks with great care and just be in the moment even if what you are doing doesn’t seem important.
There is nothing in this world that you have to have…nothing. This is not the same as not caring, it’s the opposite. Know someone always has your back, whether you see them or not.
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