The only one who loses is the one who stops trying.
In the face of difficulty and challenge, the fight or flight intinct kicks in. Either you confront the difficulty and continue head on, or you completely stop trying and move in another direction. The decision to fight or fly sounds easy to do and it is in simple things. However, if you are dealing with a major life bump like your career where your future – financial and sense of fulfillment – largely depends on, it is a major consideration.
Other than fight or flight, there is another response to a challenge – paralysis. This is when you can neither move forward nor backward and you just stop trying, paralyzed by fear. The concept of “learned helplessness” came to my attention when my interest in the issue of poverty and oppression brought me into the realm of social psychology. Wikipedia defines this phenomenon as follows:
“Learned helplessness, as a technical term in animal psychology and related human psychology, means a condition of a human person or an animal in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance to which it has been subjected.”
How many times in your life did you stop trying because you thought that you are not succeeding and you have no control over the outcome of your situation?
When you find yourself in this place, it is the best time to ask:
• What is holding me back?
• Am I underestimating what I can do?
• What is taking the power away from me?
• What am I afraid of?
You can judge fight or flight options as either good or bad depending on the outcome. Not doing anything is not an option. Do not be afraid to try because even when you fail, you learn something in the process. In fact, the most important and hard-hitting stuff you learn come from the place of failure. If you could only get over yourself and listen to your heart and the sounds of your surroundings at a moment of failure, it will tell you a lot. It will tell you how you got to that place and how to get out of it.
Let me compare it to driving when you are out there and you know you are lost. Some people will stop for directions. Some people will keep on driving until they stumble upon their destination. It is not an option to stop in the middle of the road to break down and cry until it is dark and dangerous. Being lost is not only a failure to get to your destination without a hitch. It is actually a moment when you learn two or three different ways to get to your destination. After all, life is a big adventure and sometimes getting lost “on the road” makes it more fun and exciting.
So if you find yourself frustrated, challenged, and about to give up, do not stop trying. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue on. Get help for directions if you must, but always move towards the path of your goal. You will stumble upon success at some point.