This post is about the psychology of giving up and overcoming hardships.
Choose What You Will Stick To!
They say that when you consider quitting something, think of why you started. That is like the foundation for not quitting. But think about this: why ever start working hard on something you do not care about? Be ultra careful about taking up new things. Absolutely make sure that you chose what you truly want or you will not be able to push yourself hard later on, dawg.
If the fundamental reasons for you working hard on something are totally flawed, nothing will ever help. Do not be delusional! Think straight and clear! If something is worth quitting, then so be it! The earlier you quit, the better. If you choose what you truly desire on a deeper level, you will devote your whole being to your goal. And that is some real power right there!
Your central goal, right in front of you. At all times.
About Not Giving Up
I have given up before the finish line many times, only to find out that everything wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I missed out on opportunities. I guess psychologically it has to do with my self-esteem. I must have thought that I am not the kind of a person who deserved to succeed at that task or I just was not fully convinced that I truly wanted success in that task.
In movies like Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings these stories of not giving up repeat themselves. In Star Wars, Yoda shows Luke how objects could be levitated if Luke would just believe in himself. In Lord of The Rings Sam and Frodo are nearing a critical point of possible failures many many times, yet succeed in the long term. I guess this is one of the main messages of The Lord Of The Rings Series: Never give up on the most important things.
Now, you might think that these are just movies and that it might be an inaccurate example, just as you would say about love in the movies: I mean, love just does not happen the way it is shown in the movies, does it? But actually I think that these two movies are great examples. I have had many cases like this myself.
For example, in driving school here in Japan, I was always on the brink of failure. I cannot read Japanese as fast as natives can, and I had to spend more time studying and doing quizzes than Japanese did. It was a cramming school with intensive studying and crammed schedule so one thing I was short on was time. In the end I managed to graduate on time and passed the exams, even though it was always close to failure. At each checkpoint I was scared I would fail but still took the extra step and succeeded. And exactly BECAUSE I took these extra steps, I could succeed.
Sometimes one extra step is all it takes to make the difference between success and failure.
Giving Up As An Intellectual Decision
Although contradictory, sometimes I actually recommend giving up. The time to give up is when it comes to weighing trade-offs. After measuring the consequences of going with one or another decision, and after measuring the risks and consequences of failure there are actually times when it is wise to give up. So, giving up has to be an intellectual decision. In other words, a decision backed up intellectually and rationally rather than temporary feelings. Look at the picture and if something does not fit into the big picture then quit.
Quitting something that was a drag to you should feel pretty good, huh!?
Beginning And End
The finish line is actually the last place for giving up. There is pressure to finish. This is exactly the spot where you will psychologically have to show your endurance. Let us imagine long distance running: Psychologically, the easiest places to give up are at the beginning and at the very end. At the beginning you have not put forward much effort yet, and therefore you do not have much at stake yet. You do not have attachment towards your goal. Neither do you have momentum nor flow developed yet.
At the very end, though, it is easy to give up because that is where it gets the hardest. We get tired physically and mentally – The details come in. We have temptation to let loose. We might even feel that we even ‘deserve’ a victory right before the finish line after so much hard work. We demand the victory! We start to become impatient and because of our expectations we expect success with less effort.
For other, more fundamental psychological reasons, we might have fear of failure and fear of success. This makes us want to avoid the future and just freeze! Fundamental psychological reasons for giving up are something that have to be worked on in the early stages of your journey.
The Last Stage
The reason why we are prone to failure at the very last stage before the finish line is that that is actually the real obstacle that you have to overcome! Think about this: Doing a half-assed job is easy. Anyone can do a half-assed job. Doing a half-assed job and giving your mediocre effort is mentally not straining. But giving the last extra push, focusing on details, and getting the last pieces done that make an artwork a perfection or a long distance run a win is the hardest part. That is why we need to train for succeeding at these exact failure points. Patience at the very last stages is very important, but very easy to lose.
Humans Are Predictable
Emotions and attachment are illusions. They are a function of your body. If you push the right buttons, humans will react in predictable ways. If you stick a needle into a persons shoulder from behind the back, you can pretty much guess that person’s response.
That is why do not trust your emotions and feelings. They are often designed to protect you from harm prematurely. One example would be stretching: At one point it hurts a lot but you can actually go a bit farther and if you ignore your feelings of pain you can actually progress farther. Pain is the early warning before the damage but pain does not mean damage itself yet. Go too far though, and you WILL suffer damage. Pain should be interpreted just the way it is: An early warning. Nothing more. KNOWING that emotions, attachment, pain are just illusions designed to protect you is what will actually make you endure and succeed despite the hardships. Deep inside, you have to trust inside that all of this pain is just BS and that your vision of success in your head is what is much more real.
If you want to succeed you must not fail at the checkpoints where it is the easiest to fail. That is how psychology can help you with achieving big goals: By understanding where it is the easiest to fail and how to not fail at these failure points you can actually secure your success. Remember, your body is a servant and you are it’s master. Do not let your body dictate what you can and cannot do.
As a bonus, this video below explores why kids quit Jiu jitsu. Mostly because it is not fun and too strict for them. Observe the psychological aspects and you will see some gems.
This is a post from the Self-Control Bootcamp section.
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