Giving Up

Everyone who knows me knows there are two words I will always hate to hear and they are “I can’t”. Yes, I may just well be one of those positive thinkers you would hate to be around but that is the way I was raised. I can still hear my mother say, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

So am I successful at everything I try? Of course not but I can always look at whatever I attempted to do and say, “Well at least I learned something.” Whether it worked out or not I could always look back and say I tried. My “I CAN” philosophy has always been built on 5 main principles: 1. How badly could I screw up? 2. It won’t kill me if I am not successful. 3. What would my back up plan be if my plan didn’t work? 4. I would be sure to learn something or many things. 5. If I accomplished my goal, no matter how big or small I would have a personal sense of achievement. How cool is that? For the things that I have not been successful at doing, I never considered myself a failure. I preferred to think of it as just fine tuning the lessons that life passed my way.

I can honestly say that most everything I have achieved in my life was not built around obtaining personal wealth. I also might tell you that money is not a big focus of what my life is all about. Having a healthy and happy family is and being surrounded by friends and family I find to be more important then being wealthy. Yes winning the lottery would be nice but since I don’t buy tickets odds are that won’t happen.

What I would like to be more proficient at doing is to learn the fine art of ‘giving up’. I say this not in a negative way but a very positive way. I see people all of the time giving up addictions, to food, to drugs to nicotine to alcohol, etc. I would like to learn to give up having an addiction to going to garage sales. Yes, I am a junk collector at heart but profess that I recycle a lot of what I purchase. My husband would really love for me to give up this habit but unfortunately I am not able to do so at least not yet anyway. My kids laugh at me but they always seem to be the first to put in their wish list of things they would like me to find for them. My friends know I am addicted and one even gave me a plaque that read, “My husband said if I go to another garage sale he will leave me. I will miss him.” Perhaps it is a curse but no matter I am not able to give it up at this stage of my life. I guess I find it relaxing to go around looking at other people’s stuff they want to discard. I lose myself for a morning and sometimes for a whole day on the weekend. It is not too costly but always therapeutic. Recently I found an old china cabinet that I purchased for $20. I plan to turn it into an armoire that will hold our bedroom television. When I referred to it as an armoire my husband quickly said, “That is what some might call it while others might call it firewood.” He is such a kidder and is easily ignored.

On the negative side of giving up I see too many people who give up on themselves.

Their philosophy is “I can’t” and most always they prove themselves right. Our patients have weight loss surgery to be healthier. They are told that surgery is a tool and to use the tool wisely. Of course they hear what we say but sometimes I wonder if they are really listening. One of our patients who had not done well with her weight loss confided to me that she had really believed that no matter what we told her that surgery was all she really needed to be successful. She did not need to attend support group nor did she need the follow-up that we provided. Now over two years later she admits that she was wrong and it was too late. She was giving up on herself, believing that she would always be a failure saying that she had failed at so many things in her life and this was just another example. “No one fails, we may learn some ugly lessons in our lives but no one ever fails.” I told her. I felt the need to share my positive “I Can” principles with her.

1. How badly had she screwed up? She had lost over 100 lbs. and although she had another 100 lbs. to go she had lost weight along with no longer being a diabetic. 2. She had not been as successful with weight loss as she had hoped to be but on the other hand was able to work with and teach disabled children. Her rewards for doing so will be with her always. How cool is that? 3. Her back up plan would now be to start coming to support group meetings, see an eating disorder therapist and make and keep regular office visits. She can get back on track. 4. She did learn many things throughout this past two years but the most important thing was that we had not given up on her. 5. She had accomplished many goals and one very important one was to help others who were less fortunate. It was something she had not been able to do prior to surgery. She was not a failure.

Life throws us many curves and as they say it is how we learn to swerve that really matters. Not everyone was raised with the positive ‘you can do it’ attitude that I grew up with. But for those of us who have been it should be our mission to pass that attitude onto others. So I will not be proficient at giving up, at least not garage sales anyway nor will I ever give up on others who have such a wealth of potential. They may not realize it yet but we can definitely help them recognize their positive qualities.

Giving up can be a very positive attribute in many ways unless it is giving up on yourself and your ability to conquer lessons life passes your way. Failing is only an illusion.

Count your blessings, not your problems. And remember: amateurs built the ark professionals built the Titanic.

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