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Walking the Full Circle

“If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before

I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will.”

– Leonard Cohen,
“If It Be Your Will”

It’s been four months since I’ve written an article and I bet you’re wondering why.

The answer is both as complex and simple as why I began researching then writing this article. The process I went through touches on grit, self-acceptance and growth mindset; as you know, three of my favorite topics.

I wrote Three Keys to Loving Others full of compassion, but also with a degree of heartbreak at the state of our national and in some ways global community. Definitely with a feeling of frustration to the point of rejection at what has become an insidious parody of community on social media. I posted the piece, and I was satisfied.

As often happens at those moments, I will re-read the article over the posting week as I respond to occasional comments or emails, and this becomes a period of reflection. As I reflected, the same thought kept floating to me.

I think I’m done for a bit. I think I’ve said enough. I think I’m tired. Not of writing and certainly not of you—my fine crew of readers—life was changing, and I was finding myself with less and less leftover gas in the tank. Maybe it was best to pause for a bit.

But isn’t that quitting?! For me, as a counselor and as a human trying to continually overcome his unhealthy habits, I’ve lived the “never give up, never stop” mentality for nearly 15 years of weight management and 30 years as a counselor. Yet, in both of those roles, I court trouble if I deny what I’m experiencing and just keep pushing. In exercise, you open yourself to injury, in weight management, self-denial leads to over-indulgence and as a counselor—encouraging others to be genuine every day—you are at best a hypocrite and surely headed for burnout.

Successful Quitting

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”

– Michelle Obama, Attorney, Author
and First Lady

Zoe Routh, leading Australian strategist and speaker is one of many entrepreneurial researchers who has studied and wrote about the idea of quitting as part of the grit process. She highlighted the work of another, author Seth Godin, who wrote that “strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices available to you” to better yourself or achieve your long-term goals (2019).

Strategic Quitting. Huh. In their field this is often seen as stopping a project that is not garnering the desired results to focus on other areas. A term that has stuck is to “fail quickly” so that you don’t waste resources. Though quitting and failing are not words that seem key to a positive end, when we consider ourselves to be the resource being wasted, and that our will and energy are finite then the act of stopping a pursuit to refocus, or recharge becomes quite sensible.

The barrier to this way of thinking is that we often don’t like to see ourselves as finite, fallible and possessed of a set amount of energy. The barrier is our own self-acceptance. “Self-acceptance,” according to Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, (2008) “alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more ‘esteem-able’ parts.”

I had to accept that, for the moment, I had reached the bottom of my word barrel. I also had to acknowledge that my life had changed. I began this endeavor when my daughter was in elementary school. She is now in high school and thus had different, more awesome needs from her father. Craziest of all, (and the focus of another article to come) I joined a gym. Me. That change of schedule and shift of creative energy to physical energy merited adjustment time. I couldn’t do everything four months ago and needed to admit that. “Perhaps more than anything else, cultivating self-acceptance requires that we develop more self-compassion,” Dr. Seltzer said, and I needed to extend that compassion to myself. I had to look at myself from a growth mindset and allow myself the time needed to grow.

So, I did. I took the summer off to recharge, refill the word barrel and establish new health habits.

Y’know what? I think it did the trick. I can’t say that it “worked” because I will forever be a work in progress, but I can say, it’s working.

Thus, in September we return to our last-Friday-of-the-month article format. Next month we talk ADHD, the month after it will be about embracing our “Nevers” and then we’ll see what Santa has in store for the Marathon article this year.

See? All charged up again. If, when reading this article, you found yourself struck or struggling, maybe even jealous then here is your permission to do a bit of strategic, compassionate quitting. Not to give up, but to give back to yourself, refocus and put those resources where you need them to be right now. Perhaps you’ll find a new path, or perhaps you’ll return to the old path with a new attitude and a the power to walk it stronger, better and longer than ever before.

Routh, Z. (2019) Quit or Grit? When to give up. Linked In Pulse. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/quit-grit-when-give-up-zoe-routh/

Seltzer, L. (2008) The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance: How do you fully accept yourself when you don’t know how? Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/200809/the-path-unconditional-self-acceptance

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