‘I Give up’. What do those words really mean? When was the last time that you ‘Gave up’?
I’d like to suggest that most of the time when you say ‘I give up’ you haven’t really – not fully. Instead you are somewhere on the continuum that exists between giving up and letting go. You have probably never said ‘I let go’. Maybe ‘I let go’ sounds a bit too uppity or new agey. Maybe it is just not part of your vocabulary in that way.
I think it is safer to say ‘I give up’. That way you know where you stand and so do others. No one, including yourself is expecting any more. If you are really honest with yourself, most of the time you still hold onto a little hope – so you haven’t really given up – at least not completely. Maybe you tuck your hope under your pillow, or ignore it whenever it pokes up its head. It doesn’t matter, the point is that it is there.
How would it be if you could nurture that hope without gripping it tightly. If instead of giving up you let go.
How the body sees giving up vs. letting go
To me when I say the words ‘I give up’ I feel a collapse in my body. In some ways ‘I give up’ gives relief. There is no more wasted energy. Yet it is hard to see forward from ‘I give up’, from collapse.
Imagine practicing Yoga or meditation and ‘giving up’ on a pose or from sitting. You may fall or collapse on the ground from a pose or slump forward while sitting.
Letting go feels different. In the example above if I imagine letting go while in meditation or yoga, I let go of all unnecessary tension in my body, particularly in my face where I know it gets held. Yet I am still holding myself up. I may not get the pose, in fact I have let go, so it matters not if I do or don’t but I can still reach for the pose from this place. Sitting in meditation, I sit tall, not hunched over yet letting go of tension in other parts of my body.
You can stand tall when you ‘let go’. Letting go you hold onto hope. To let go even more – that is to move further towards the letting go end of the continuum requires trust as well. Trust in life itself.
Nature let’s go.
As I write this I am in central Australia, a dry hot land, although not as dry this year as many other years. A tree or plant out here never gives up. However they have no choice but to ‘let go’ as they can’t control (or have the illusion of control)over life as we do. They let go, trusting that the rain will come and in the mean time they stand tall and they reach down looking for water. You can see plants out here that look like dead sticks come back to life with rain. Even when they have to let go of all their leaves to retain moisture a part of them holds onto hope that the rain will come, and when it does they are ready to go.
How can you, how can we as humans let go and yet be ready? How can you, how can we move towards something without holding onto it too tightly? How can we give space in our lives to uncertainty and yet still move forward in our lives? How can we be ready when the rain comes?
Reminders for the journey towards letting go.
I would like to move further towards the letting go end of the giving up – letting go continuum. It seems that life might flow more, feel more calm, more accepting and hopefully I will be ready when the rain comes.
What follows is a list of reminders for myself and maybe for you too if you would like to share this journey with me.
- Consider the words you use for yourself and the impact they can have on your body.
- Consider also the way you feel in your body and the words that come from that feeling.
- Stall tall, and yet let go.
- Realise that control in an illusion
- Embrace Uncertainty
- Let go.