On Giving In...Not Giving Up

Giving in. Giving up. What's the difference? Is there a difference?


Dictionary.com defines "give in," as "cease fighting or arguing; yield; surrender," while "give up" is defined as "cease making an effort; resign oneself to failure."

You might remember that I've been struggling with the idea of surrender and using experimentation as a sneak attack toward it. Surrender means to "give in," and failure means to "give up." There's a big difference there. But sometimes when we are faced with a seemingly overwhelming task--something that scares us and flings us out of our comfort zone--we want to bypass giving in to it and head straight for giving up on the idea.

Doing the work you're called to do

Is this showing up for you in some way right now? Maybe it's a big, creative project that you're afraid to start, a collaboration that makes you nervous and uncomfortable, or a new opportunity that you're alternately excited about and terrified of. 

What do you do?

My process looks something like this:
  1. Tell myself (sensibly of course) the 100 reasons why this is not a good idea. 
  1. Try to numb myself with other activities (like cleaning the bathroom or reading a novel) which suddenly feel very important, rather than face the idea of doing XX. 
  1. Every time the thought of doing the thing I'm scared of comes up, immediately squash it and say to myself, "well, that would be okay for her/him, but there's no way that it's the right thing for me." This is even more effective if I add in lots of reasons why (see #1). 

Why running away doesn't work

Here's the thing, creative: being an artist isn't all fun and games. It's not all highlights and high fives. It's not always easy or comfortable. Being an artist means accepting the dark stuff too: the fear, the vulnerability that sharing your work creates in you. It might even mean exploring the darkness of human nature and sharing it with the world--as a way to lead others to light.

So the next time that you're faced with a big, seemingly overwhelming and scary task, I hope you'll avoid the excuses like I shared above, and open your heart and mind instead. I hope that you'll be able to graciously give in, knowing that surrendering to this work, your call, is what makes you most completely you.

But if you don't surrender right off, if you hem and haw like me, then know that you're certainly not alone. And that Spirit is waiting for you to take the next step--never forcing, simply waiting--and looking forward to the seeing the joy you'll experience on the other side of it. 


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