I have always wanted to write a brilliant motivational post entitled, quitting is a state of mind, telling people that you quit mentally first. The thing is, that is just about all I really have to say, actions speak louder than words, is something we hear fairly regularly. And for the most part, actions really are the measure of intention, however, the older I get, the more I realise that actions are not the complete picture.
Sure, when, it comes to relationships, what someone does, is a good measure of what they are really like, and love will always be a verb. However, when it comes to quitting, I am not so sure actions are a clear indication of where that person is internally. I first noticed this in the gym world, where many people are going through the motions, and dripping with the sweat of effort too, but mentally, they have quit. On the outside they look the part, and many indeed are in great shape, and some are even professional athletes, but inside they are dead. They have quit, they no longer enjoy what they do, but are there because of a huge pressure not to quit, even a self identity that precludes being a quitter. Once I had noticed this, I realised that people have quit on life, they literally go through the motions.
This hit me when I had it all, the business, the car, the house, the family, inside I was dead, and I had quit wanting to achieve, I had quit with engagement, my business and my life, I quit and stayed on because, like many employees, I had no choice. I looked at people around me, and I saw the same, “I have quit” in their eyes. We were together in our endeavour to just get through the day, fulfil our responsibilities and be the person we were supposed to be. We even managed to look passionate about the right things, and engage, but I saw it, I felt it, the deadness the mental disengagement of having quit life.
Quitting, then, is not just walking away and ceasing, which is what instantly springs to mind, I realised quitting was the mind. In a situation where physically stopping and changing was not an option, we mentally quit, disengage and retreat because we do not want to be part of the life we have. I felt I had been sold a lemon, a Friday afternoon special of a life, one that looked great but actually did not work properly, and I realised, that I was not alone in wanting to quit my faulty life and have the one I signed up for.
The truth is, I never worked out how to un-quit, how to re-engage and become active in building a life that I wanted to be part of. The quitting was done for me. Which is why I could never write my motivational article, because, what sort of advice is it to say, yes you are in a situation you do not like and have quit life in the active sense because of this, without proposing an action to start the process of change. I feel, I could recite some motivational literature; I think I could do a reasonable academic job via research, but that would be cold, distant and theoretical. Tony Robbins says change takes an instant, its making that change stick and seeing the results of that change that take the time, and he is right. The problem is that I have no idea, had no idea, of what done looks like, no goal, because I was at the goal and it wasn’t like the brochure.
In making a change, we consciously or subconsciously pick a goal, the issue is, when we have quit on life, goals, achievement and the train of lies we ended up riding, we lose faith and trust in the process as well as the destination. The trains look the same, and whatever they say we become pretty sure that they all end up at disappointment and disillusionment. Gradually we look at a world, not where happiness, achievement, goals and such are things that happen to other people, we live in a world where those things are a facade to the outside world put up by people like us, dead and helpless, maintaining the lie that we got what we paid for in the store of life. Each of us hiding the reality, that is not happiness and not what we wanted, realising that it is not that we have failed, but that success is nothing like what it was supposed to be.
Inside we quit on the whole “game”. From soaps, sports, social media, and alcohol we self medicate away the pain, but that never goes, and the hole grows a little, bit by bit. I wish I had answer for the bleakness. I guess at twelve step plan would be a great way to make money, or fame, or fortune, but it would be a lie. A lie in a sham world of broken dreams and promises. In my personal world the truth is, the change came from the blackest place where I realised I could not trust things, people, relationships, blood or anything that was not me. It came when I realised that my reality, my world, whatever label got put on it, was mine and that I lived in it as much as I lived in a physical space. I learned how to rub along in the physical world without realising, to go through the motions. On the outside, I don’t think there was ever much to see, certainly a description of my daily routine is as mundane and repetitive as any call centre worker or cleaner. What I came to change, was how I viewed my internal space.
First, I realised my internal space was real, and no one but me was in charge of its definition. The world could advise me, and there were healthy and unhealthy constructions I could make, and as such structures had been put up without planning permission, and so some building was required. This was my space, in a conscious sense and my reality was important. So, when something said was hurtful, if I didn’t care about the words or the intention, it did not have to hurt me, it did not have to have an impact. The rudeness, the selfishness, it was my choice whether I would take those into my world. In this world, my thoughts and feelings had intrinsic legitimacy. Suddenly it was no longer mad, or odd, or a sign of mental illness to fantasise of a different life, as a girl, it was just something to pass the time on the toilet. Just because no one I knew admitted it, does not mean it was not happening, rather how people do not admit the fact their perfect life is not what it looks like.
I suppose, you could say, that I learned to become at peace with myself. I no longer took the measures of a world of sham and lies and saw how far I didn’t measure up to them. Instead I took the measures of what I had decided were virtues to determine how I was doing. Would I be someone, I would like to know and be friends with, if the answer was no, then I was in charge of doing something. This internal space, this peace with myself did not require a level of income, a certain car or house, a certain relationship status, it is independent of those externalities.
The decision was to seek happiness with myself. First, I never wore a lot of black, I didn’t change my style or my wardrobe of clothes, externally I did not need to go, “look at me, I have changed”, or “look at me I am different”. I did not discuss the external style, I had, instead the internal perspective, the foundation of being at peace with myself. The world of cars, houses, babies, careers, records, relationships was there and I was now in charge of how I engaged with it. It was up to me to enable or disable what would ultimately matter.
That is how I un-quit on life, by realising that the so called life I had quit on was no life at all, and life was about peace and happiness in my internal world first and foremost. And that the walk through life is conducted from this space, and so what I do, my job, my relationships, my house, car, dog, define me only in so far as I decide they define me, and that un-quitting is about taking internal control first. From that place of internal peace, ultimately being I able to say, I am a person with whom I am happy, my values, motives and intentions are consistent with who I have decided to be, is the starting point. From that solid foundation, actions follow, and character builds so that actions speak louder than words, after all, we tell the world very little, we show it a lot.