It’s so easy to give up when something feels really hard going. You try something to improve your health, make something good happen and it doesn’t seem to work. So you want to throw in the towel, i.e. give up.

This has happened to all of us at some point. But you also know that even though it’s so easy to give up, it might not ultimately be the best thing for you and your health.

It's so easy to give up! Picture of a man saying, 'This is too hard. I'm giving up!' He is throwing a towel. On the towel it is written: The towel of giving up. There's an expression in English 'throwing in the towel' which means to give up.

So what do you do?

Good question. That is the point of this blog. I was inspired to write it by this picture I came across on Twitter created by Anna Vital at (@annavitals on Twitter).

This is a picture created by Anna Vital at on the sixteen reasons people give up. It's so easy to give up when you expect fast results, stop believing in yourself, get stuck in the past, dwell on mistakes, fear the future, resist change, give up your power, believe in your weakness, feel the world owes you something, fear failure more than desire success, never visualise what is possible, feel you have something to lose, are overworked, assume your problems are unique, see failure as the signal to turn back, or feel sorry for yourself.
Picture created by Anna Vital (@annavitals on Twitter) at

I read it and thought, ‘Yes, those are the reasons why it’s so easy to give up!’

But then I thought people will ask, ‘What can I do then?’

So this blog is meant to help you start addressing your reason for giving up on making a change you know is good for you. And in turn increase your chances of keeping going and achieving what it is you want for yourself.

Let’s address each reason for why it’s so easy to give up

There are 16 of them so in an effort to not write a book length blog post, which I could easily end up doing, I am going to just give a few pointers for each reason.

1. Expect fast results

You know the saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ Dealing with an unexpected challenging health issue is not easy and can bring up a lot of emotional stuff. Sometimes change can take time.

Also keep in mind that when you learned to walk as a baby, eat with a knife and fork, learn to tie your shoes or something else you did early on in your life, or drive, it took you time to learn how to do it well. You made mistakes. And at those times you were often applauded for having a go and failing!

2. Stop believing in themselves

When you start to make a change and do something new, of course you may not believe you can do the new thing yet. Because you haven’t done it yet. You haven’t shown yourself, that yes, I can do this. That is ok.

What you can do is believe in yourself just enough, doesn’t have to be 100%, to take the first small action. Believing that you can learn from mistakes you may make is also important. See point 4.

Coaching is great for looking at what is stopping you from believing in yourself and helping you find ways to strengthen your self-belief muscle.

Coaching is great for looking at what is stopping you from believing in yourself and helping you find ways to strengthen your self-belief muscle. #change #health #wellness Share on X

3. Get stuck in the past

You may have a preference for focusing on the future, past or present. I think a balanced enough focused on all three is good. We can learn from the past, just be in the present and the future focus can help us reach our goals.

But sometimes we can get stuck in the past in an unhealthy way with a focus of ‘everything was better and easier back then’ and everything now is difficult. This can be a form of denial and avoidance of our current reality and how we feel about it.

It’s not uncommon to see people do this after a life changing illness or injury. And it’s an understandable reaction. Yet to remain in this place, with all the associated unpleasant feelings and emotions it can bring up, may not be healthy over time for you or your loved one.

This is a tough one. Sometimes things have to get so bad for the person to finally realise, ‘I’ve had enough. I need to do something to get our of this place.’ When a person experiences that kind of resolve, that is when they often come for coaching.

4. Dwell on mistakes

Yes, we can dwell on our mistakes. We want to be able to do it right first time. Because that feels good. Reread point 1.

Mistakes, as unpleasant as they can be at times, are actually a gift. They tell us what doesn’t work. So we can cross that off our list. Also, keep in mind what FAIL stands for:

First Attempt In Learning

Failure is a reason why people find it's so easy to give up. This picture shows a person looking at the word FAIL but it stands for First Attempt in Learning. The person is saying, 'This is a much better way to think of failure.'

5. Fear the future

The future represents the unknown. And not knowing means uncertainty. Which may bring up discomfort for you. So it can be easy to stay in your current routines because it is what you know and are comfortable with.

Also see point 10.

6. Resist change

This links to points 5, 4 and 3. Sometimes these are the reasons people resist change. It can also depend on how much change the person has dealt with in their life. If they aren’t used to dealing with change, they may not have the skills to do so.

Some of the skills and qualities that help in dealing with change are the ability to live with uncertainty, being comfortable enough to make mistakes, to learn from the mistakes, to learn something new, adaptability and flexibility.

7. Give up their power

People can easily give up their power for all the reasons mentioned here. But they may also be used to focusing their energies on what they cannot change. You often hear it in the language people use.

S/he made me feel…

They make it so hard for me…

If only they would…, then I could…

The language is focused on what other people should or could be doing for the person. The person isn’t taking an active role. When that happens, the person gives up their power.

 Rather than that, what I recommend is you focus what is in your control and influence to do.

When you don't believe you have any power to do things or make things better for yourself, it's so easy to give up. This picture shows a person giving away their personal power to someone who is saying, 'You should have done... but you didn't.' with the subtext of 'give me your power'. On the other half of the picture, the person is standing in their personal power and using language like, 'I'll ask for help...I can... I make things happen... I know my needs... I have ideas on how to get my needs met... I feel... I need...'

8. Believe in their weaknesses

In this case, the weakness is often a benefit to you in some way. As long as it’s a benefit which you value, it’s so easy to give up on making a change.

9. Feel the world owes them something

This links to point 7. I find people who feel the world owes them something are less likely to do something for themselves. They give up their power as a consequence.

We can wait around all day for people to owe us what we feel we deserve but we could end up waiting a very long time.

Instead, take action which is in your control and influence to do.

10. Fear failure more than desire success

This links to point 5, 4 and 2. The fear of failure outweighs the benefits of success.

There’s that book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. And that is often the case when we are trying to do something new which is good for us. We have to hold on to the fear and have a go anyway.

I feel our fear has a place. It has a need. If you acknowledge its place and discover what it needs, that can help you to hold on to the fear in a more partnership kind of way as you go on and do new and good things for yourself.

It's so easy to give up at times but by knowing your priorities and really valuing them, you are less likely to give up. Like this quote by Stephen Covey says: You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically to day "no" to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.

11. Never visualise what is possible

A visualisation exercise of future possibilities is always a good thing. But some people don’t have a developed inner visual sense or are unable to due to how their brain is wired. Some people use more of their feeling or hearing sense when processing information internally.

If you have an auditory preference, you can tell yourself a story of what is possible. If you have a feeling sense, you can imagine what you would feel if you have achieved what you wanted for yourself.

And if you can visualise, tell yourself a story and feel what success would feel like for you, do all three!

12. Feel they have something to lose

This is one of the reasons why you may resist change (see point 6). When you make a change, even if that change is something good for you and something you want, you lose something. If you value what you lose more than what you will gain from making the change, you won’t make the change.

It's so easy to give up when we do not value what we will gain by making the change we want for ourselves. This picture shows a grid of which the aim is to help you think through what you will gain and lose if you make the change and if you do not make the change.

13. Overwork

If you have a lot of other stuff demanding your time and energy right now, you may not have the energy to make the change you want. Or maybe the change feels so big, it feels like too much all at once.

In either case, break the change down into small actions. Tiny actions. Small is achievable. Small is good. Taking a small action helps to fuel the motivation to stay with. Good stuff that.

14. Assume their problems are unique

It can feel like your problems are unique because you don’t know anyone else who has them. Chances are, there is someone or even many people out there who have experienced your problem.

As I wrote previously, change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Find people like you as they can share what they have learned.

It can feel like your problems are unique because you don’t know anyone else who has them. But chances are, there are people out there who have been where you are now. #change #health #wellness Share on X

15. See failure as the signal to turn back

Reread point 10.

16. Feel sorry for themselves

This links to points 7 and 9. Yes, you may feel sorry for yourself. And that is natural to feel from time to time. When you feel sorry for yourself, it is often about you missing something you value. That is ok.

But if you unpack and live in the sorry-ness, that makes it harder for you to make the changes you may wish for yourself. Giving yourself the opportunity to mourn what you have lost means you acknowledge the value it held for you and how you feel about it. Doing that helps you to move beyond the sorry-ness and grief.

When you’ve done that, then that energy is freed up to help you make the changes you want for yourself.

Feeling sorry for ourselves is one of the reasons why it's so easy to give up on something. This original quote by Return to Wellness explains more about feeling sorry for yourself: When you feels sorry for yourself, it is you missing something you no longer have. Mourn the loss and acknowledge the value it held for you. This helps you to move on and make the change you want for yourself.

What’s it like for you?

Which of these reasons for giving up resonate with you? When you have felt, ‘Gosh, it’s so easy to give up right now!’ what did you do to keep going? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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