GIVING UP & MOVING ON
Posted: August 17, 2009
This week I want to talk about two kinds of giving up. The first type of giving up or surrendering is actually healthy for us and even necessary, if we’re going to move past difficult times or events in our lives.
You may have heard about the different ways we (humans) handle a crisis. These are also used to help explain the grieving process when someone close to you dies. The first stage is denial—trying to ignore the problem exists, or trying to pretend it isn’t really happening—but it is.
Once you’re forced to deal with it, though, the next stage is anger. You start thinking, “why me? You want to strike back and look for things or people to blame. But most often, there’s no one to blame. Things happen.
At some point in the process, we’ll often start bargaining, trying to come up with some way of making things the way they used to be. But usually, there’s no way to change the outcome.
Once reality sets in, and we’re moving past the anger and bargaining, depression can set in. Here’s where things seem hopeless. You can’t see a future and the past hurts too much.
Finally, if you give it enough time, and with lots of prayer, help and support from your friends and family, you can move to the final stage, which is acceptance. You’re acknowledging your loss, and getting some perspective about it. It doesn’t mean you quit hurting—just that you’ve come to terms with it and have made a decision to move on.
This acceptance is healthy, critical even, if we’re going to ever going to get over things. I’ve heard it said that it takes a minimum of a year to do this when you’re grieving over a lost loved one. It’s true.
It took a full year after Mom died from a sudden stroke before I could think about it with any perspective. Then it took another year before I was able to talk about it. I saw the same thing with my wife and her mom.
A friend of mine has had some pretty tough years due to a disease that put him in a wheelchair. Recently though, I’ve seen him start thinking about things he can do now, instead of things he couldn’t do anymore. It’s making a difference for him, I think.
I’ve had several different times in my life when I lost jobs that were important to me, for one reason or another. It was difficult at the time, but through faith and prayer, and some hard work, it always worked out for the better and things always ended up far better than they were before.
Still, sudden memories can come out of nowhere and just pierce your heart. You can be going along just fine and you’ll see or do something that triggers a very strong emotion. That’s part of the healing process too.
I call them bittersweet memories—you think about them with a kind of sad smile on your face. You’re accepting things and are moving on. The memories are there, but you only get to touch them for a moment and then they’re gone.
And moving on is crucial to living. A stream that stops flowing gets stagnant and dies. It’s got to keep flowing for life to continue there. It’s not dishonoring their memories or them, for they’d want us to go on and have a good life, right?
So finally, after much struggle, we fall into acceptance. We surrender the memories, the things we’ve lost, the lives we’ve had, the people we’ve loved, to God, to the past, and we pick up and move on. It’s in the bible. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies… right?
Great things can happen in the moving on. We can see things that we never would have seen before. We have empathy for others that we never had before. We get a new appreciation for life, relationships, and want to make the most of it. That’s very healthy.
But there’s a different kind of giving up that’s not so healthy. For some reason, we become too willing to just settle for things. It’s the notion that this is the way things are and the way they’ll always have to be.
Acceptance is one thing, but settling for less than our best is another. Just because you’ve struggled with your weight for years doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to being fat forever.
Just because you have a hard time quitting smoking doesn’t mean you should just quit trying. Just because you’ve lost a job doesn’t mean you’re worthless. Just because you’ve had a hard time sticking with an exercise program doesn’t mean you can’t do it so you might as well just give up.
Things happen—some that we’ve caused and others through no fault of our own, and we’re going to go through the same stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The quicker we can get to acceptance, though, especially in the small stuff, the quicker we can figure out how to start moving on.
Identify where you are and what you’re facing. That’s called being realistic. State the facts and don’t sugarcoat them. But don’t just live there. Figure out where you need to go, and start thinking about what it might take to get to that different place.
One strategy is to pretend you’re bringing in a “consultant.” If you had a bunch of money and paid a brilliant strategist that knew exactly what to do, what would they tell you? What would they say you needed to do?
Often, you’ll already know the answers—you just didn’t want to do it. So what’s your “consultant” saying you need to do? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of starting again. You’ve heard the old saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
So what’s that still, small voice inside of you saying? What are you hearing these days? Where is your stream flowing? Why not listen awhile, and then maybe, jump back in. It can be a most interesting journey.
The winner of Week Seven for Biggest Loser “8” was Shawn Bowers, who lost 1.5% of his body weight and 4.0 lbs. Shawn won a $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all his hard work. Second place went to John Rigdon, who lost 1.3% of his body weight and 2.6 lbs, and third place went to Tina Foote, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 1.8 lbs.