Home » Ask the Therapist » Why do I always give up or quit?

Why do I always give up or quit?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

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.

Why do I always give up or quit?

Answered by on -


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 to. 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.

According to Psychology Today, “from the moment we embark on any endeavor numerous reasons immediately present themselves that push us to quit (e.g., fear of failure, fear of success, laziness, failing to believe in ourselves, etc.). One way of thinking about why we don’t quit is that other, more powerful motivations to keep going command our attention more (e.g., the desire to improve our level of fitness or reduce our level of fatness). The idea to quit remains present in our minds as long as reasons to quit exist, but the likelihood that we will quit only increases when we start to pay attention to them.”

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.

Psychology Today further explains how we might be tempted to quit, but also how to overcome it: “We don’t end up quitting because we find ourselves facing too many obstacles or obstacles that are too strong. We end up quitting because we’re too weak. I firmly believe, however, the inflection point at which we can no longer avoid paying attention to the idea of quitting—that is, the point at which our strength fails us—can be changed. We can become stronger by challenging our weakness even if at first we don’t succeed. Increasing resilience, both mental and physical, is an arduous process that’s rarely linear. That is, it’s a process filled with stops and starts, periods of progress and periods of regression.”

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.

Why do I always give up or quit?

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on Apr 2, 2007.

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). Why do I always give up or quit?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 May 2019 (Originally: 2 Apr 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 11 May 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.