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Updated: Jan 17

Life’s a bitch and then you die, right? You may have heard this cynical viewpoint before. No doubt life is full of challenges, ups and downs, disappointments. With these can come overwhelming emotions ranging from general frustration to outright feelings of failure and wanting to pack it in.

I have written that while I am still alive, I plan on living. This means giving up is not an option. What often shapes the feeling of giving up is the difficulty believing that, given your particular set of circumstances, it seems impossible for things to change. And that may be the case, if you do nothing different. But for your life to change, you must change your life. And that calls for making changes in habits of thought, attitude, and behavior. Change need not be drastic. Yet, indeed, if you feel as you want to give up you need to begin making changes today.

These five steps will help get you on your way.

1. Release the people or circumstances you blame for your failures

Maybe it is true that you have been ripped off, abused, lied to, born into poverty, or previously sustained any host of predicaments. What you may not realize is that you carry with you, every day, this history mainly in the way you see the world. Every thought, every action has the stamp of these events. It’s time to let them go. Write down on a piece of paper all the people and circumstances you blame for your plight. Then crumble it up. Repeat, “I blame nothing for my failures and I will blame nothing for my successes.” Take the crumbled paper to a safe place, light a match to it. Take the ashes and flush them down the toilet.

2. Part with the past

Although we learn from the past, often it is a place that constantly reminds of us of our inadequacies. The visual I use is having my arms wrapped around the future with my back squarely up against the past. There is nothing we can do to change it and the woulda’, coulda’, shouldas’ are enough to paralyze anyone into giving up.

3. Find someone to talk to

This could mean talking to a friend, family member, clergy, or even a stranger. For those who feel they have no one to talk to, there exist many hotlines as well as internet sites to discuss challenges or even suicidal thoughts. There are many who have been just where you are and intimately understand what you are going through.

4. Rediscover gratitude

For years, you have heard pleas for gratitude from the four corners of the self-help and religious communities. So much so, that you may have dropped the ball on this or tuned it out. Chances are that if you have given up, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not one of your daily habits. But acknowledging that even you have things in your life for which you can and should be grateful is a powerful motivating force. Write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. Each morning upon arising and each night upon going to sleep say thank you for each entry on your list. Focus only on these items. This is not being overly Pollyanna. That’s because being grateful for what you have and not bitter for what you don’t will open your eyes to a newer perspective and help facilitate change.

5. Find God

Those of you reading this are no doubt from all different faiths, from many different countries, holding many different beliefs about God. Some in my own faith may take umbrage to the fact that I don’t hyphenate the “o” in God out of respect. Surely some of you are atheist of agnostic. So how might you “find God”? Well, if you are part of an organized religion and have a place of worship that would be a good place to start. Whether it is a Bible-based church, Mosque, Synagogue, Temple, or other there should be someone there who can remind you of your divine nature. Some of you may choose meditation to find God—as the saying goes, “when we pray we talk to God; when we meditate, God talks to us. We all possess a divine nature capable of making this life an extraordinary one.

Implement these five steps prior to packing it in and begin to see the light again. If you get to the point where the dangers and disappointments of life are such that they outweigh the fear of death and you are comtemplating taking your own life, seek immediate assistance, as there is always more to live for…you just may not have discovered it yet or simply lost site of it.

© Charles F. Glassman, MD

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