What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up?
We’ve all had that feeling, when something isn’t working for us and we want to call it a day. But there is a big difference between ‘hitting a bump’ and hitting a dead-end, with nowhere to go. Sometimes, they feel the same. A bump is something that you can get over; you might need to work a little harder, climb a little higher or take a different route, but you’ll get over it. A dead-end holds no hope – as if nothing will make a difference right now. I’d argue that, in the area of weight loss, many clients mistakenly think they’ve hit a dead-end, when it’s really just a bump in the road. This, more than anything, separates those who succeed from those who don’t. It’s more than just a shame; at a societal level, it’s costing us billions in terms of our health service – simply because people are throwing the towel in too early. So it’s something we should all address.
How to Push Through
The first step is to be honest with yourself. Are you giving up too soon? Is your goal/dream something that is a priority to you, and are your struggles surmountable? If the answer is ‘yes’, then ask yourself what do you need to do to resolve the problem. The next step is to ask yourself what ‘story’ are you telling – and believing – about yourself. Our ‘story’ is the narrative we use in our own minds about ourselves, and often it acts as a barrier or mental block to our own success. For instance, the story I used to tell myself was ‘If something goes wrong, it’s all my fault’. I’m now learning that it’s simply not true – some things are just out of my control (actually, many things).
It’s all in our ‘Story’…
1. Are you ‘stuck’ in an identity? We all have great plans and dreams, but we become paralysed and unable to move forwards – often due to a limiting belief that we hold about ourselves. This can be the result of our parents labelling us in a certain way when we were younger, or the result of us listening too closely to who society tells us we ‘should’ be. According to therapist Bridget Kirsop, ‘We each create our own story. Things happen to us – our family, peers, media, teachers, culture, and we put things into our brains that we start to believe. Then we live our story using these beliefs, and sometimes it works for us and sometimes it doesn’t. We end up getting dragged back to those thoughts, feelings and beliefs, which then create a behaviour that sometimes doesn’t serve us.’
2. Go back in time: Sometimes it’s necessary to go back to pivotal times in our lives and to literally ‘retell’, or change, our story. Events happen in our lives that cause us to tell ourselves a story that is unhelpful. For instance, one such story could be ‘I never succeed at things’ or ‘I’m not good enough’, based on our experiences of past failures, knocks or traumas. That is when it’s helpful to think about how we could transform them into more positive ones. It is often helpful to talk this out with a therapist or friend, and to share with them the fact that you want to put a new spin on some of the stories that you’ve been believing for years, but which you know (finally) are holding you back.
3. Be inspired by others: Finding a story that inspires can be life-changing (see our weight loss success stories here.. Janina Scarlet, author of Therapy Quest believes that the life stories of others can be very powerful in helping us to overcome difficulties. “Stories have been used for thousands of years to help people process and understand their experiences,” she says. “As human beings, when we’re experiencing struggles in life, very often we are subconsciously looking for a story that we can connect with, either from someone who we know, a fictional character, or even a person in the news.” I personally find TED Talks to be a great source of inspiration when I need to ‘push through’ a challenge, and to believe in myself again.
4. Be patient with yourself: Don’t be fooled into believing myths – which are just another word for stories. One such myth could be: ‘This should work the first time’. The truth is that it may actually take a few attempts at weight loss before you succeed, and that’s okay. Another myth is that it’s much easier for other people to manage their weight. Although there are the odd few who have a super efficient metabolism, most people over the age of 35 who are a healthy weight aren’t there by accident – they work hard at it.
Myths like these have prevented you from progressing in areas of your life for many years – now it’s time to say goodbye to them.
This time it IS different.
Please believe it.
And learn to tell a new story.