Giving up – The why behind it all

Why do we often feel given up on life? This article explores some reasons why many of us want to give up.

Giving up – The why behind it all

It's an insidious thing, that feeling that creeps up on us and makes us feel like we are no longer interested in life, and can’t be bothered anymore ... like it is all too hard and now we need an escape.

So often we are climbing uphill against a cyclone when our lifestyle is full of alcohol, drugs, unsupportive diets, work overload, stress and little sleep. Add in abusive and un-loving relationships and life just gets a whole lot harder. With these aspects of life being the norm, it's easy to want to give up on life: because we don't feel great, it makes sense to want to give up.

But why are we like this?

Why do we often feel the need to give up?

Giving up on life doesn't just mean throwing your hands up in the air and saying, 'I've had enough', though no doubt many of us have actually done this.

Giving up could be:

  • not going to that dinner date ‘because you have nothing to wear’
  • staying in a relationship that’s boring and comfortably uncomfortable.
  • not cleaning the house because you can’t be bothered
  • eating takeout or what’s there instead of what truly nourishes your body
  • staying in a job that’s unsatisfying because the money is good and it’s comfortable
  • saying yes to everything to suit other people
  • or thinking 'that's it, we should just break up' when you and your partner fight.

There are many moments when I think to myself 'aw man, I’d really like to get sick so I can stay home and lie on the couch' ... which is a form of giving up. Why would I want to get sick, feel crappy and lie on the couch all day? I know for myself that there are aspects of life I still find challenging, and so my form of escape (giving up) is sitting on the couch sick, watching TV and checking out from life, like a retreat away from it all. This means I don’t have to deal with the challenges and all the difficult feelings I have throughout the day.

But what if there were a different way to be with life, where I didn't feel the need to escape, to give up and run away from it all?

That different way for me is when I have taken time to care for myself, eat and do supportive things for me and genuinely just appreciate me for living. Taking care of oneself, saying no to what doesn’t feel okay and making supportive choices helps build a connection with the body and creates a foundation for how you feel. These self-care moments require a connection to the body and an attunement, which supports one to handle the difficulties that life throws up and makes it a bit easier to handle the tension of being in life: the tension we all feel from living in an unloving, non-supportive world filled with misery, disdain, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, exhaustion, murder, rape, sadness and everything else that is unpleasant in this world, which we seem to just put up with.

We are beings who feel – we can feel when someone's angry and when someone's sad – and so it makes sense that we can feel the disdain of the world too. Who wouldn’t want to give up on the world when it feels so crappy? Yet I know that when I care and do loving things for myself I can separate myself from being just a part of the world and connect more to being who I naturally am – a being filled with love, who lives in an unloving world but can choose to live love in that unloving world. Try saying that ten times fast! What I also note is that people notice when someone lives joyfully and lovingly in life, as they can almost grasp this within themselves also – like a distant memory... maybe of when they were a child and loved life and being themselves, before starting to conform to how the world is.

I have noted that in the moments where I care for my body, I feel okay to commit more to life. The tension doesn’t go away, but there isn't an overload of tension. I have supported myself to be fit for life – to live in a world that’s demanding, fast paced and full of stress.

Where there are certain parts of our life that are not working, we tend to catastrophise that the ‘whole of life' is the problem. We look outward to blame others for our problems, rather than looking at how we can bring change. For example, work, school, partner, home etc. is the problem, as opposed to the way I am running my life. We forget that it is up to us to ascertain how we want life to be and that change is possible. We don’t have to put up with rot if we don’t want to.

We can choose to:

  • eat healthy; or not and feel bloated, sick, irritable and tired
  • exercise gently; or not and have sore muscles and not want to exercise again
  • choose how we want to be in our relationship, or let anything slide and feel unloved, abused and unwanted
  • Love ourselves; or not and feel worthless, ugly and not good enough.

All the above can shape how we feel, and therefore, how we feel about our life. No one or no thing is ever forcing a way of living down our throat. We actually have the power to choose the way we want life to be for ourselves. And that is often the problem with life – we have forgotten how to feel joyful and live lovingly. We get very caught up in the world and what's out there, trying to reach a goal, getting caught up in the bad and trying to do good, basing life on the feedback of others, that we forget to look inside and concentrate on what really matters (ourselves and how we feel).

Like us all, there are moments where I slip and find myself wanting to give up. And so it's important in these moments for me to ask the why –– why did I slip, what about life caught me off guard and caused me to perceive I didn't have the capacity to handle it?

From this one can learn, understand and be okay for next time the same thing comes around: almost like supporting ourselves to stay on track by understanding what things we find challenging so we’re aware of it. Awareness makes all the difference. From there we can begin to catch ourselves and do things differently, try out new ways of responding to things to see which one works best: give ourselves a moment to assess and feel the situation, rather than giving up straight away.

Sometimes I have aspects of life that I am aware of that need changing and every time it plays out I become more aware of it, but it may not fully shift for a couple of months. It is a process and takes some time to master, however making a start is a great way to challenge the given-up feelings.

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AwarenessFeelingsLifestyleHealth conditions

  • By Emily Rutherford

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.