We all deal with difficult circumstances at some point in life. Money woes, relationship trials, career dilemmas, health issues; the list is long and all too familiar.
What this post aims to address is why giving up the internal (psychological) struggle is worth it.
What’s the Problem?
If everyone experiences challenges, then what’s the real problem here? If our circumstances and stories are played out over and over and over across history (because, let’s admit, there is nothing happening to you or me that hasn’t already happened a million times to a million different people), then why struggle with them?
Why continue to suffer when the story is so utterly stale and boring? It doesn’t make sense! I don’t know about you, but I only watch a great movie 2 or 3 times. After that, I’m cool. Got it, moving on. Right?
Why do we humans keep playing out the same old stories over and over again? Why do we continue to struggle when the story of struggle is SO yesterday’s news? Isn’t there something else to do down here on planet earth to do?
(Take this moment as an opportunity to admit that most of us put up a mental fight with our circumstances most of the time. It’s the normal way of the world.)
Here’s one, small example of how we get stuck in our own mental struggles:
Ask yourself – I am reeeeeallly the only one who has ever gone through this particular situation? (ie, “this problem”)
Then ask yourself:
Can you absolutely know that that’s true?
And how alone and stuck and tired does that make you feel to think that way?
What kind of awesome would you feel if you could let that “problem” go?
Who would you connect with?
What ideas and solutions would you discover if you could “give up” the idea that you are suffering alone?
Sometimes I think that the only real problem is the psychological struggle we humans put up against . . . oh, you know . . . everything and anything. You name it, we will find a way to struggle through it. Even the “good” stuff!
Which is why I think “giving up” is a good strategy for getting through life.
Most spiritual disciplines extol the virtues of surrender. Why is this? And what do they mean by surrender? Why is surrender such a key element in major spiritual practices? Is it because psychological and emotional surrender is the only place we can truly experience peace? Why do we need to experience peace?
These are big questions with answers that can only be found inside yourself.
You could say, however, that surrendering to the circumstance at hand is a lovely place to start dealing with any “problem.”
You could say “giving up” is the open field of sunshiny freedom where truly creative solutions and wisdom frolic about and beg us to dance.
That’s a lot to digest. So, take a smoke break here if you need it.
Giving Up is Freedom
Giving up means different things to different people. I’ll address what I DON’T mean by “giving up” in the next section. For now, let’s make it simple and say “giving up” is an act of acceptance —-
accepting things as emotionally complex or straight forward as:
…the doctor telling you that your voice is broken,
…confirmation that your husband has a girlfriend,
…or admitting that you didn’t go the gym today. Again. For the 61st day in a row.
Whew, these seem like hard things to accept! And at face value, they are.
But, let’s pretend for a minute that we could all sit down, take a breath, and accept whatever is happening in the moment. No problem, just watching it all happen in front of us like a movie. (the same movie played out for so many people across millennia, remember?)
From that place where you have “given up,” or accepted the circumstances, is it possible that new, creative, wisdom-filled solutions or ideas might crop up?
I portend that truly liberating ideas have a much better chance of surfacing in a state of mental acceptance than in a state of mental struggle.
You might discover how very okay you will be when you leave a polyamorous “spouse,” or that you can find other people who’ve overcome your particular voice problem, or that avoiding the gym is actually good for the time being.
All of these “freer” thoughts were there all along, just not so apparent in a state of struggle. And from these “freer” ideas, you can make some healthy, empowered decisions!
What it is and what it is NOT
Giving up is not playing the victim or martyr.
Giving up is not curling up in the fetal position and sucking your thumb, or sticking your head in the sand.
Giving up is not pretending like things don’t suck.
Giving up is not whistling past the graveyard.
Giving up is not acting like you don’t care.
Giving up is not lying to yourself about what is happening.
And most importantly, giving up is NOT about doing NOTHING.
Giving up is having the courage to sit still.
Giving up is slowing down.
Giving up is sitting in one spot on the floor while waves of fear crash around you.
Giving up is letting those waves of fear cut you loose from your psychological moorings.
Giving up is taking one minute to calm the F down and breathe deeply. Right now.
Giving up is making space for empowered solutions to arise.
Giving up is the end of pushing back against what’s happening in the moment.
Giving up is saying two simple words in the face of anything hard . . . “I give.”
And I hate to be the bearer of this next piece of news, but . . .
“I give” is something most of us have to do most of the time. But only if we want to experience the peacefulness that gives birth to truly empowered thinking and behavior.
There is no final destination on this, only the practice of giving up. Or not.