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Quitting Time

Posted Aug 21 2013 10:44pm

Quit

1. to stop, cease, or discontinue: She quit what she was doing to helpme paint the house.
2. to depart from; leave (a place or person): They quit the city for theseashore every summer.
3. to give up or resign; let go; relinquish: He quit his claim to thethrone. She quit her job.
4. to release one's hold of (something grasped).
5. to acquit or conduct (oneself).

Perhaps you've heard the saying "Quitters never win and winners never quit." Makes quitting sound like nasty business, doesn't it? Basically, it implies that if you quit [GASP!], you're a loser. Now if you read the definition (pulled from dictionary.com ) above you'll notice that the 5 definitions offered are fairly neutral. No negative connotation there. No mention of being a loser.

My personal favorite for defining the big Q word is number 4. Sometimes we allow things to get a hold on us; we allow this thing, circumstance, or person to control us by convincing us that something is good or bad or right or wrong and BAMMO -- we're in attachment, suffering, and self bashing ("I'm a loser, Charlie Brown." Side Note: Is it just me or does anyone else find Charlie Brown and his negative ways depressing? If it weren't for Snoopy and Woodstock for comic relief, I'd cry my eyes out during every Charlie Brown cartoon special.) land. Sometimes, in order to get our power back and let go of the grasping, we need to quit. Yeah, I know -- Just quit it! -- It's not exactly a popular empowerment slogan. 

Yet, perhaps it should be. I've quit things (yep, just call me the curly quitter) in the past and felt quite empowered for doing so. There's nothing quite so satisfying as to rise up against all of the "winners never quit" mumbo jumbo as well as your own inner shame maker and listen, instead, to your deepest knowing. No only do you listen to it, but you honor it by actually going against popular belief about achievement and success.

I used to frown upon quitting. I'd give myself pep talks to push through. I'd berate myself for even thinking of giving up. I'd force and push and stick with it no matter what. Yes, I might die trying to maintain my power through attitude but, by God,  I would have "She never quit" engraved on my headstone. Oh yes, I was oh-so-proud of my self perceived loyalty, sticktoitiveness, my good girl who never quits dogged determination. It's like I fancied myself some sort of heroine fighting the good fight. What a bunch of tripe (that's my PG substitute for the nasty word that I really wanted to use)! I wasn't a winner because of my anti-quitting mindset. I was unhappy (and, frankly, exhausted -- all of those pep talks drained my energy). 

I quit a yoga training once. Not just any yoga training, mind you, but THE yoga training. The one that I had dreamed about and desired for years. All of that fantasizing about taking this training paid off in that I ended up moving to one town over from where this training was being offered (I didn't know this at the time of the move, so it was a total surprise to me). The training was long and in-depth and required quite the commitment. I didn't flinch and signed right up. I wanted it so bad, I could taste it. My partner at the time was not pleased by the commitment involved (I don't think he liked the price tag, either). I begged. I pleaded my case. I even resorted to the dreaded batting of eyelashes. Somehow he took pity on me (he probably got sick of my whining and thought that I had a scratch on my cornea and needed to see a doctor) and agreed that this training was a good thing.

Imagine my utter horror when, about 3/4 through the program, I knew that I needed to quit. Even to this day, I can't fully explain what it was other than a knowing (saying this got me many "you're freaking crazy" raised eyebrows). It had gotten to the point that every time I had class I would cringe and have this awful tension in my gut. It was like nails on a chalkboard. It was like rubbing something against the grain. It felt wrong in every way. I spoke to a friend about it and, after hearing me describe what I was feeling, he said what I didn't want to hear but knew was so very true: "You need to leave the training." Needless to say, that was a fun conversation with my partner. He didn't understand. I did though. I knew that if I stayed, it would be wrong for me.

Same goes for the relationship I was in (gee, do you think this poor guy wanted out after I quit the very training that I had convinced him was the perfect one for me to take?). I spent years being invested in not quitting. I was in for the long haul. I made a commitment and I wasn't going to break it damn it...no matter how much this man and I were hurting each other and how unhappy we both were. Impressive, eh? Every time we'd hit up against the same issue again and again (and again), I'd give myself the little no quitting pep talk. Then I realized something -- both of us had already quit. Neither one of us was honoring our commitment and I could feel it -- the same feeling I had in that yoga training. If I stayed, I'd kill something inside of me. Yeah, I know it sounds dramatic but it's true. 

And for all of you rah, rah winners never quit folks out there -- I can tell you that after quitting the relationship, the man and I both went on to live happier lives and we both got what we wanted. One of the vows I had made to that man was that I would love and honor him and keep his best interests at heart. Our relationship was not in his best interest. In fact, our relationship was preventing him from having something vitally important to him. Quitting was the kind, compassionate thing to do.

I quit my yoga practice a while back as well. After years of pushing my body in ways that it was not designed to be pushed, I chose a different style of yoga. Yes, I got the "I can't believe you can't hack it, Ms. So-Called yoga teacher" looks but I knew that it was the right decision. Every now and again, I'll be tempted to try it again once or twice then I remember the reason I quit. Quitting was me being kind to myself. It was Ahimsa in action. My body wholeheartedly agreed with my decision. 

So I'm advocating the seldom appreciated practice of quitting. Remember, it only has the meaning you give it, so if you're judging yourself for holding on, try #4 above and release your hold. There's no shame in quitting. I, myself, am proud to be a quitter. I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't quit the things, circumstance, relationships that no longer served me. So for all you haters out there: Just Quit It!

Namaste!

 

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