When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
This is the advice our culture offers us about fortitude amidst adversity: If you’re tough, you’ll do something. If you’re not tough, well, toughen up. If that doesn’t work, there’s something wrong with you. Try harder. Rely on willpower. Buck up. Didn’t work? Buckle down. Try harder.
If trying our hardest doesn’t work—or if we can’t even manage the incredible vulnerability of trying—we collapse in shame, blame ourselves and others, numb or distract ourselves, conclude that we’re just not good enough.
We tell ourselves it’s futile to dream impossible dreams, sometimes convincing ourselves we never really wanted that dream in the first place. We give up on ourselves and each other, and our lives get smaller and smaller.
And as this happens with each one of us, collectively we get easier and easier to dominate and control.
This is not the time to give up, my friends—on your own dreams or your dedication to bringing your full heart to this ailing world.
So What’s the Secret to Not Giving Up?
When the going gets tough, we need encouraging support and warm companionship, we need resonant shared holding of our dreams and visions. We need to acknowledge our most vulnerable longings and embrace the vulnerability of our inextricable interdependence. We need each other.
If It’s That Simple, Why Is It So Hard?
In the first four months of our lives, we learn which of our emotions will be welcomed and responded to, and which will get us less connection or more danger. If our primary care giver can’t pretty consistently welcome our fear, anger, sadness, overwhelm, or even joy with warm responsiveness, we learn to shut down those feelings or hide them as much as we can.
We learn on a cellular, neurobiological, unconscious level not to reach out when our feelings are too much for us to hold on our own and our caregiver can’t hold them with us. We learn to give up.
Luckily, our brains our neuroplastic. That means that if we didn’t get the warm responsiveness we needed as infants and children and young adults, we can get that resonance now, and with repetition, our brains will slowly form new neural pathways that expect welcome of our full aliveness, that trust that our intense emotions will be warmly accompanied, that allow us to reach out for help when we need it—so that we never have to give up on ourselves or each other or the world.
When Do You Give Up?
Which of your own emotions overwhelm you, collapse you, freeze you? Fear? Anger? Sadness? Helplessness? Shame? Panic?
You can tell you’re overwhelmed by your emotions or the emotions of others the second your judgments, assessments, blame, labels, and conclusions start flowing. This is your logical left brain’s way of trying to calm down your emotional right brain, if your left brain wasn’t taught that your right brain can be way better soothed with empathy and resonance.
When you notice the judgmental conclusions start to flow, when you feel like giving up, this is an emergency signal that it’s time to reach out for warmth, for empathy, for resonance.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way—And That Way Is Together
What matters most to you, in your life and in the world? Do you want a life filled with authentic intimacy, supportive community, meaning and purpose, and emotional and physical wellness for all beings? Do you want to fulfill your life’s unique purpose by contributing what only you can offer the world?
Acknowledge your dreams, dearests. And then reach out for resonant companionship in holding your dreams, in stepping toward your dreams, in not giving up on your dreams.
Living our dreams make this life worth living, and make this chaotic world worth loving and worth nurturing. You don’t have to give up. You don’t have to go it alone.
I love you, keep going,
P.S. If this message was supportive for you and you’d enjoy hearing from me more regularly, please reply/comment and let me know (it’s most inspiring to hear something specific that was meaningful for you). xoxo