Pursue What Matters
Episode 237: Never Give Up
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have grit? Do you persevere in the face of challenges? We live in a society that has forgotten what it means to never give up. We collapse in the face of challenge, we hide we numb, and we are paying a very high price for it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:16
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. All right, we are wrapping up with our conversations over the last several weeks about curiosity and building a secure foundation. And so today, we’re talking about the last component of foundation, and which is never give up. So hopefully, you’ve been able to persevere through all of these podcasts and have gotten through secure foundation. It’s a long acronym. But I hope it’s been helpful for you. I hope there have been some tidbits along the way that can be meaningful for you in your own in your own pursuit of what matters in your own development. And so as a reminder, secure is an acronym all about the non negotiables that we need for self care, and self awareness. And then Foundation are those skills and mindsets that really will make you unstoppable, so really designed to help you to thrive and grow and contribute at your highest level. And so today, we’re going to finish that up with the last concept, which is a really important one, which is to never give up. So today we’re going to talk about, first of all, what it takes to never give up. It’s it takes a lot why persistence matters most. We’re going to talk about how to increase your distress tolerance. Just about every podcast I ever share has something to do with distress tolerance, because it’s just that importance. Important. And so those are the topics we’re going to focus on today. And of course, we’re really helping you to strength, strengthen your, your confidence to lead by strengthening curiosity and these skills that really help you to thrive and grow. And so I want to ask some questions to you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:32
So we just want to kind of do a little bit of a check in on on this topic. So so just settle in, and listen. How do you approach your life? Do you fight for what matters to you? Do you work hard? Do you follow through on things? Can other people count on you? Are you a person of your word? Do you do what you say you will do? Are you the one others want by their side during the toughest moments? So these can be real, got questions, gut check questions that can help you assess your ability to persevere. Which can help you to really check in with Are you a fighter? Or do you give up in the face of challenges? And here’s the thing, if you didn’t like your answers to those questions, you can change it, you can turn it around. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today. So when we think about assessing your level of perseverance, right, that’s what those questions are designed to look at. Perseverance is your degree of persistence in the face of challenge and uncertainty. And it’s really an apt description of the nature of leadership.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:55
So, you know, it’s, it’s easy to persist when you don’t have challenges and you don’t have uncertainty. It’s good, right? Because there are some people that quit even when things are certain and even when they don’t have challenges. But perseverance, right denotes a certain degree of adversity uncertainty challenge. And so, you know, this is one of those traits that is so incredibly valuable. And so I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes on this topic. It’s actually one of my favorite all time quotes. It comes from Calvin Coolidge and I just think he has this figured out. So, what he said is nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not, the world is full of educated derelicts. persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. I love that it is so profound. And I think it just gives us the right perspective on this. Now, I grew up in a small town and our small town, it was an interesting mix of folks. And so you know, there were a lot of blue collar workers and farmers, right rural Idaho, which is I repeat myself, right. But we also had a really great University in our community. So it started out as a college, it’s now a university. And so we also had a lot of college professors, so a lot of folks who were highly educated. And it was interesting to me to see that the different influences in my own life, you know, we think about those who were highly educated. And certainly, that required a great deal of persistence, right to get in to get through any sort of Graduate Studies successfully requires a lot of grit and a lot of persistence. But then, we also had these blue collar workers that did hard work every day, they were problem solving every day. And this was the experience in my own family, right, I come from a family of farmers, and blue collar workers. And they are among the smartest people I know. And they really taught persistence and grit. And one of the things that I learned from these folks is, you had to figure it out, there was no other choice, you couldn’t just call someone else, you couldn’t, you couldn’t defer that or, you know, delegate that it was up to you to problem solve, it was up to you to figure things out. And to me, that was such an incredible example of persistence. And I learned a lot about the different different forms of intelligence, right? Like, there’s the book learning, and that’s really valuable. And there’s a great service that that brings to us. And then there is just like, practical, real life, who do you want when you’re stuck by the side of the road, kind of intelligence. And, you know, that kind of intelligence, I think one of the things that stands out to me is like, it’s full of grit, and perseverance, and problem solving, it’s like, you just you got to get the job done. And so we’re not going to sit around and talk about it, we’re just gonna get it done. And I’m so grateful for, for those influences in my own life. And for the examples of, of never giving up that I have, have seen in family members and friends and community members. And so, you know, when we think about never giving up, one of the reasons many of us give up, is we panic. So I want to think about I want to help you think about this concept, for maybe a mental health perspective. And so one of the terms that we talked about a lot in mental health is distressed tolerance. I talked about an awful lot, because I see that, you know, it’s always showing up for us.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:11
And so in the face of challenge, are you able to tolerate distress? And, you know, this really is such a big factor for so many of us? What happens in the face of challenge? Are we able to dig deep, and, and move forward, take the next step forward? Or do we give up do we collapse? When we tend to collapse, it’s really, it really is indicative of difficulty with distress tolerance. And I can tell you, right, like, I’m in the middle of, I’m in the middle of some some big challenges. And it’s been that way for a while. And just last night, I was, you know, just kind of struggling and just feeling like this is this is really hard. And it, it doesn’t feel like it’s getting easier, right. And I can absolutely see the progress. And I can see how things are different, and how I’m growing. But it still feels so hard. Most days it feels just incredibly painful and difficult. And as I was talking with a loved one about this situation, you know, where I often end those conversations is, I just need to take the next step, right? Because if I try and think about everything that needs to be done, I will overwhelm I’ll collapse, right? Like my distress tolerance skills will go out the window. And that would be a shame, because, you know, the challenge that I’m facing is something that’s personally very compelling. For me, it’s something that feels tied to purpose and a way that I can serve and help others.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:55
But it’s hard and there’s so much uncertainty and there’s so much risk and So, you know, for me, one of the things that helps me in those moments where my distress is pretty high is to be able to look at what, what’s the next step? Like? Can I just take the next step? And almost always, we can take the next step. We don’t have to figure out all the answers. We don’t have to know the end from the beginning. And in fact, we can’t. But can we just take the next step. And that is really how we create not only distress tolerance, but also an approach to life where we don’t give up where we’re able, we’re able to face our challenges. And so, you know, unfortunately, though, distress tolerance is a hard thing. For so many of us, we live in a society where this virtue has been lost, people don’t see it as a virtue. I heard something earlier this week where someone was talking about the virtues of divorce. And, you know, like, this has been a long held value in our society. And I’m not saying anything about, you know, individual circumstances, right. Like, there are definitely times where divorce is the right thing. But just as a blanket statement, heralding divorce as a virtue, because it’s not worth your time and energy, and you don’t want to deal with someone who’s bringing you down, like it was spoken about very, very flippantly. And I do think that that is I mean, it’s indicative of a lot of things. But one of the things that’s indicative of is our our difficulty in pushing through, and right marriage is not easy. Marriage is hard. And it really requires a lot of perseverance and persistence. And so you know, when we struggle with this distress tolerance, we go for the quick fixes, we numb ourselves, and we numb our pain, we may like to pretend otherwise, that we are somehow more enlightened.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:09
That we lean into our pain that we are proactive about our coping skills, and that we are invested in understanding our emotional experience. And while we may believe very strongly in the value of these approaches to life, when it comes right down to it, when we are hit upside the head with painful emotions, most of us flee, we had for cover, we reach for the nearest bag of potato chips, we put ourselves in a Netflix induced coma, or push ourselves to oblivion, Oblivion out on the trail or in the office, the mechanism of numbing may be different. But the fact remains the same. We numb in the face of pain. And that’s really how I opened this whole series, we talked about distress, and numbing. And so what is not mean Exactly, exactly, it includes those behaviors we engage in to distract, avoid or distance ourselves from our present emotional experience. And we most often engage in numbing behavior to avoid difficult emotions, such as fear, shame, grief, sadness, despair, and disappointment. And here’s a reminder, right, and I did talk about this at the beginning of the series, we all numb, we all numb to some extent, because life is hard. And our self protective mechanism is to hide to flee to numb. And so you know, hopefully, you have more awareness about how Nami shows up for you, if you’ve been listening to this series.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:35
Of course, instead of not mean we want to learn to tolerate our distress and lean into our uncomfortable emotions. We need to learn to experience and express our emotions. I know it’s not pleasant, but it is the path I promise you that. So in a nutshell, we’ve got to learn to tolerate our distress. As humans, we are meant to experience the full range of emotions, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly cries, okay, so it’s just it comes with the territory. So nothing is a real problem. Or worse yet, you give up. We give up on our dreams, and we give up on opportunities because to tolerate distress, fear, uncertainty, and challenge can feel incredibly overwhelming. And I don’t want to underestimate that those are really painful emotions. But when we don’t face our challenges, the intensity of those emotions increases and we feel less capable moving forward.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:33
So if you don’t learn to tolerate distress when you face life’s challenges, which is a guarantee you’re totally going to face challenges, you will quickly become overwhelmed and your stories start spouting in your ears. You can’t do this, who do you think you are? This is too scary. What if you fail? And so instead of trying instead of doing the work of tolerating distress, we give up? We don’t try we don’t ever get in the arena. We stay in the cheap seats to use the language of Brene, Brown. And so what happens we don’t succeed, but not for the reasons that we think when you don’t reach your potential, your stories in your head can confirm that see you are a failure, you can’t succeed, you can’t do hard things. And your belief that you can’t do hard things is confirmed. But that’s not the real story. What’s true is you didn’t make the choice to learn how to tolerate your distress, so you could take the next step. And so in a very real way, this fear of failure becomes a self fulfilling prophecy over time. And the net result is that you never reach your full potential. And that is, that is such a shame.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:49
So the last concept that I want to talk about as we think about never giving up is the importance of perspective, it really, really matters. So understanding that life is full of challenge and that the heart is not meant to be engineered out of life can be powerful, because then you can just get on with the business of life. So recognizing that challenges help develop character and values is a moral foundation. And it can really help you in those times of difficulty. And so, you know, everything we’ve talked about here with curiosity is about developing the self awareness to understand your own experience, and to then develop the skills to meet your needs, whether it be through specific coping skills, distress, tolerance skills, mindfulness skills, or a shift in perspective, in terms of how you approach life. And so you know, when we think about never giving up perspective really matters. And from Frederick Nietzsche, he said, those who have a why to live can bear with almost anyhow. And of course, this, this was the refrain, this was the message that helped Viktor Frankl maintain a sense of hope, in the concentration camps of World War Two, he found meaning in his work and found that this was the difference between those who died due to a loss of hope. And those who survived due to never giving up. Now, of course, it’s not everything, because folks did not have control over their situation. So some people, some people were killed. But during his time, he found this difference between the prisoners, and often found comfort in the words of Nietzsche. And he found that those individuals who found a purpose or a why were better able to cope, right, so we go back to this idea of distress tolerance, they were better able to survive the horrible, horrible conditions that they found themselves in. And so perspective really, really matters. And so today, as we are wrapping up the secure foundation, we’ve been talking about the importance of never giving up. And so as a review, right, it takes perspective to never give up.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:24
Because if you have tunnel vision, in the face of challenge, you are gonna give up right perspective really makes a difference. Persistence is much more important than intelligence, or talent, that willingness to take the next step is really the difference between those who succeed and contribute at their highest level and those who do not. And you can increase your distress tolerance by cultivating a growth mindset. And by really getting serious about self care, and distress tolerance skills.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:57
And so I hope that this has been helpful for you, you can head over to my website, to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/237-nevergiveup. And so I would also love to have you join me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith, I always have more resources tied to the podcast there. And I’d love to hear from you. And if you’re so inclined, I would love it. If you would give us a five star review the podcasts on Apple or Spotify. It helps more people to find the podcast. And I sure appreciate your time and attention. I know your time is valuable and it really means a lot that you would take a little bit of that time to spend with me. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai