March 23 – Hanging In There

Don’t give up. Winners never quit, and quitters never win. We hear these phrases often, and the sentiment behind them—that persistence pays off and perseverance equates to success—runs so deep in our culture that the thesaurus lists the opposite of perseverance as laziness, cowardice, weakness. This view of the world neglects the fact that there are some situations for which no amount of persistence and perseverance can make a difference.

forest with sunlight
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On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“We women who do too much know how to ‘hang in there.’ We stick with a situation that a sane person would have given up on years ago. This persistence is, indeed, often a part of our insanity. We get so fixated on hanging in that we lose perspective and fail to see that our very persistence may be exacerbating a sick situation. If we withdraw from the situation, organizations in which we are involved might have the opportunity to test their reality, or they may even be allowed to ‘hit bottom’ and come out the other side.

We accept the virtue of perseverance but unfortunately our dedication to it has affected our judgement and our ability to discern what is really needed.”

“Hang in there,” is a phrase often heard when we are going through difficult or troubling times in life. It’s true that most trying times in life are temporary and will pass, but sometimes hanging in there keeps us in situations no sane person would put up with for far longer than we should. Leaving a bad situation is not a sign of weakness or failure. It takes great strength and mental fortitude to accept when something is beyond our ability to control and to remove ourselves from the situation. When we withdraw, we give the other party a chance to recognize there is a problem and fix it. To remain stuck in a place of hurt, mistreatment, or abuse trying the same things over and over is insanity. That is when persistence goes too far and becomes a disease. There is great power in letting go and giving ourselves permission to leave a bad situation.

Sometimes we should persevere, and others we may be better off simply letting go and moving on. Sometimes we may need to wait and see. The trick is learning to discern which is which.

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