WHEN TO QUIT TO BE HAPPIER
It is very rare in our culture to experience someone telling us to give up. When you're having a difficult time, no one says to you, "yeah, it'd be better if you gave up" or "you should quit." Instead, we're told to "just keep going," "it will get better soon," or "don't give up, it'll turn around any minute."
And if we're being honest with ourselves, we've been taught to not quit our whole lives. As children, we read and watch fairy tales where the hero is on the brink of giving up but decides to push through, only to have their life turn out perfect because they kept going. Even now as adults we glorify and want to emulate those who share their stories of struggle to success. And that's all good. It's great in fact. A healthy attitude of "go get 'em" perseverance and determination is key to overcoming obstacles, growing, and becoming our best selves.
But this "never quit attitude' is so ingrained in us, so much a part of our culture, what do we do when it's time to really throw in the towel? And I mean those times where it's vital that you quit. We keep going. We keep pushing. We potentially run ourselves ragged. We compromise our health or our families or both. We live lives of stress and unhappiness because we are blind to the fact that we may be happier if we just walked away. We only see that our story must be like everyone else's and it's going to turn around any minute.
I've recently experienced this in my own life. I spent the past year struggling in a situation that was physically making me ill. I was living in a state of constant fight or flight and I finally became so turned around that I lost all confidence in myself and it rippled out to all areas of my life. I was a mess and it wasn't until I'd been living this life for 12 months that I finally began to explore the idea that maybe I should quit.
I know this was a long and vague way to get to it, but the point is, it doesn't matter what the exact situation is. Whether it's a toxic friendship, a bad work situation, or something else, sometimes we need to quit to be happier. There are times to keep going and times to give up and both can lead to happiness in their own ways. So how do we know when it's time to quit? There are several ways to tell, each one unique to you and to your situation, but here are a few things that helped me determine that it was time.
1. Your passion has turned to hate.
Something you once loved and threw all your passion into now completely irritating, frustrating, and loathsome.
2. You feel physically drained or ill all the time.
All of your energy goes to getting through the situation. Leading up to it and afterward, you can't get yourself to do anything or you are physically sick to your stomach, get headaches, or have sore muscles.
3. You turn to old addictions for comfort.
You turn to old comforts and addictions to help you cope with the situation instead of just leaving.
4. You lose confidence in areas you always felt confident in.
Even if the situation has nothing to do with anything but itself, you begin to question yourself in everything.
5. You don't see a future or have hope.
With trying and pushing so hard, if you can't see a light at the end or have hope that it will get better... it's time to walk away.
6. You'd rather do anything or be anywhere else.
You dread placing yourself in the situation and when you are faced with it, you'd rather do or be anywhere but where you are.
I finally had to admit that it wasn't working. It didn't matter what I did, how hard I tried, nothing was changing. And I had to ask myself if it was going to change, was the best possible outcome worth all I was going through? The answer was no. So I found a way to leave the situation or rather a way found me (funny how that happens) and I quit. I walked away from something I'd been fighting for, for a very long time. And even though it has only been a short time since I quit, I'm already much much happier.
Photo by Elijah Henderson