When It’s Smart To Give Up

Yes, it’s true – giving up is sometimes the best strategy. I know it might sound like wimping out but giving up can trigger your greatest creativity and the best outcomes. Let me show you how.

Whenever you feel pressurised or stressed because of a problem, your mind is busy trying to work out a solution. It tends to go over the same thoughts again and again. People talk about ‘cudgeling their mind’ or ‘racking their brains’ which makes it sound like a kind of torture! And in one way I suppose it is – it certainly doesn’t feel nice.

This happened to me the other morning. Soon after waking, my mind started buzzing over a problem with the design of a training programme. I could see a gazillion options to move forward and they kept parading themselves for evaluation. I went from one to another and back again, trying to choose the best one. The parade got faster and faster and my head went into a complete spin.

After an hour or two of this, I was getting worn out. It all seemed so complicated and I was not a jot nearer to a solution. So I decided to give up. I saw the futility of what I was doing and just decided not to bother with it anymore. With the decision made, I felt a sense of relief sweep in. Then I got on with something completely different – I think I put the bins out :-)

As I went through the rest of the morning, I got on with other things and my mind was no longer bothered by the problem. Yet, sometime in the afternoon I suddenly saw the solution. There it was as clear as day! And I hadn’t had to work hard to find it – it arrived all by itself.

I realized afterwards that giving up when I did had made space for new thinking – fresh thoughts that I had not yet thought. The solution arrived as a fresh thought – inspiration!

This experience is also an insight into the question that I’m often asked – how do you ‘let go’ of unhelpful thoughts? The answer is that you can let go by giving up.

Giving up is not half-hearted; it’s the full monty. You do it when you are at your ‘wits end’, in other words, when you are fed up with the unproductive thinking going round in your head.

You know when you have really given up (not just kidding yourself) because of the feeling of relief it brings. Then you can get on with living life more lightly, knowing that new thoughts can arrive at any moment. And it’s these new thoughts that provide by far the best solutions.

But don’t just take my word for it – try giving up for yourself. Let me know how you get on


When It’s Smart To Give Up — 1 Comment

  1. Yes recognise this one Trevor. To me I see it like a saw cut in a piece of wood you think a thought as you describe and this is the first movement of the saw making a small indentation in the wood but as you rethink the same thoughts as you so wonderfully describe the saw goes backwards and forwards and the cut gets deeper and harder to get out of. Great idea to distract yourself with something else otherwise with the saw cut getting deeper and we get to feel more trapped; depression and all kinds of other negative emotions can surface to take us further from the solution we are in search of. Great thing to have a list or a bag with many of these distraction ideas in it and then when this situation starts you can simply dip you hand in the bag or pick an item form the list to do and hey presto distraction created giving time and space for a solution to come in.