Love Yourself: Recognizing When It’s Time to Give Up

When you have given all that you can but the effort hasn’t proven worth it, when do you pull back?

After overwhelming my therapist with a whooping 28 text messages, she asked me: “Do you want to keep trying?”

Drew – he and I met in the most intimate setting.  We were both hospital patients in our “ugly” state”. No makeup, stripped of our “glamorous” clothing, put into hospital gowns, and we both haven’t showered or brushed our teeth for days.

He and I had the same medical chronic diagnosis and, because of that, we instantly magnified toward one another.

We agreed to hangout after we were both discharged from the hospital, but with him being in an inpatient detox rehabilitation center and me being in an outpatient rehabilitation center, you can say….timing wasn’t on our side. Everytime we tried to call one another or make plans to hang out, it fell through the cracks. We’ve yet to hangout since being discharged 3 months ago.

Empty promises were being made: “I’ll call you after group therapy tonight” and “I’d love to have a talk about this in person” didn’t happen. One of my counselors told me: “recovery is a selfish thing”. He’s NOT a douchebag or intends to do wrong at all! I fully recognize that he and I are at the place in our lives where we need to focus on treatment to regain stability. That means putting ourselves 100% first and not sacrificing to formulate “side relationships”.  (Plus, he’s detoxing off alcohol and cigarettes…so he’s MUCH more unstable than me right now).

Overall, i’m looking for more commitment than he can provide. My therapist is right: I shouldn’t keep trying…right?

I guess what i’m saying is…sometimes giving up isn’t as negative as we think.

From a young age, we’re constantly molded with this mentality in mind: “never give up”. That can, oddly enough, be an unhealthy mentality sometimes, proven by Carsten Wrosch and Gregory Miller. These two researchers said it’s unhealthy if we spend all our energy on goals that have outlived their “time”. By focusing on goals that have outlived their usefulness, we’re actually missing out on other opportunities that can be more meaningful to us.

Well, how do we know when to give up on a goal versus when to keep trying? Below are 3 reasons!

1) When you’re stuck with an unattainable goal

When you’ve tried multiple times to reach a goal and failed each time, to continue to try to succeed at it is self-sabotaging and depressing. “By withdrawing from a goal that is unattainable, a person can avoid repeated failed experiences and their consequences for mind and body” state Wrosch and Miller in the journal of Psychological Science.

It’s courageous to love ourselves enough to know when we’ve given our all into something and it simply isn’t going to work out.

Instead of continuing to set yourself up for failure, why not set a new goal that’s similar? Value your time and energy enough to spend it wisely on goals that are achievable and realistic. As a result, you’ll be putting time towards goals that really count.

2) When the goal is no longer personally meaningful

Why do you think so many college students change their major multiple times before settling on completing a specific degree?

This is most likely because circumstances change and they realize their present major was no longer important to their heart. Nothing in life is stagnant. Our personalities, values, relationships, and other things will change A LOT throughout time. Therefore, that directly aligns with our goals needing to be flexible and altered from time to time.

Engage in goals that are meaningful to your physical and mental health, career, friendships, relationships, etc.

3) The End Reward Isn’t Worth It

Often times, when we set a goal, we can easily underestimate how difficult it is to reach that goal. Ask yourself: is the outcome of the goal worth it?

Is an extra $300 a month worth it if you have to work overtime every single weekend? Will losing 10 pounds by next month worth it if you have to exercise and calorie restrict everyday? Is it worth it to stay with a lousy romantic partner because you’re too scared to be alone?

It’s not that you’re lazy or not willing to work hard. Rather, it’s that you have to know yourself well enough to know what goals align with yourself realistically.

We here at Psych2go would love to hear if you’re currently struggling with giving up a goal or have struggled with it in the past. Share your stories and comments below! (As for Drew, I listened to my therapist and let that ship sail away).

Feldman, D. B. (2017, September 25). Why Giving Up Can Sometimes Be Good. Retrieved October 02, 2017, from

Morin, A. (2015, October 23). 5 Times You Should Quit Working On Your Goal And Walk Away. Retrieved October 05, 2017, from

Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements? (2014, April 26). Retrieved October 05, 2017, from



Edited by Viveca Shearin

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