Why do I always give up or quit?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I realized today that since high school, when something disappoints me, embarrasses me or makes me feel un-special in some way, I give up. I have quit jobs, left relationships, quit committees – not in a huff, I just quietly remove myself. I have always felt insignificant – even though I know, intellectually at least, that I am a very successful individual. Yesterday, after a particularly uncomfortable day, I wanted to quit living – just stop the striving to be better, stop working to be approved of, stop trying to be an important person to someone. Why am I doing this? I am an intelligent person – yet I can’t stop these thoughts.

A. It is difficult to know why you give up so easily. It may be because your learned this behavior from your parents, a relative or a significant other in your life. It may be because your parents allowed you to quit anything you wanted and never encouraged or forced you to complete something that you did not want to. Your parents may have taken the attitude or held the belief that if you do not want to do something, then you simply don’t have it. There may be other explanations for your behavior as well that I have not included. The truth of the matter is that giving up and quitting is far easier than staying and finishing something, especially if what you are engaging in is unpleasant. You should recognize this general rule: usually the easy way out, almost 100 percent of the time, is the wrong way.

What is good about your letter is that you have already identified your problem. Your problem is that you give up whenever you do not feel like participating anymore, and this seems true in almost every area in your life. From a therapist’s perspective, the fact that you know and admit this is your problem is impressive and encouraging. Your next challenge is to make the effort to seek help for the problem that you so accurately identified. While you do have an issue with quitting, it is never too late to change or correct this behavior. As I mentioned earlier, these quitting behaviors are likely learned behaviors. This good news is that these behaviors can be unlearned and replaced with healthy, mature behaviors. There is much hope for you as long as you make a true effort to seek out help for this problem. I hope this helps. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Why do I always give up or quit?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/04/02/why-do-i-always-give-up-or-quit/