Thursday, February 5, 2009


Last night I went to the first of an 8 week 2 1/2hr class on a fairly difficult emotional topic, in hopes of increasing my skills in that area.

Unfortunately the course will not be what I was looking for or expecting so I will not be continuing. But over the course of the evening I was reminded of something that for many years I was not "allowed" to believe.

Not everything I try will I like nor will work for me.

I was brought up in a family that didn't like quitters. Because of that I persevered through a lot of things just because I started it. Imagine being told at age 7 that if we buy this piano for you, you will have to finish all of the levels and become a teacher.

Luckily, I ended up liking it but the last 3 yrs (out of 11) of practicing 3 hrs a day during the week and 5 hrs a day on the weekend were hell. I wouldn't even go into the room where the piano was for 1 1/2 yrs after my last exam.

My brother had it easier. Because I already fulfilled the "piano contract", it was OK that he quit after a couple of years. Being the eldest certainly had its challenges.

This was one of the tougher categories of childhood programming I had to undo as I grew up, for sanity's sake. Perseverance can be a real asset but anything done to an extreme can be unhealthy for mind and body.

It has been difficult dealing with the voices in my head saying things like "Now, if you take this on, you are going to have to get really good, or it won't be "worth" it" or "If you spend this amount of money, you'd better have something to show for it" or "You are going to be failure if you quit".

My first real breakthrough with "quitting" something because it did not work for me was 13 yrs ago. I have not looked back. This outlook has spilled over all areas of my life for the better.

For example:

  • I do not reprimand myself if I order something that didn't end up tasting good at a restaurant even though it cost money
  • I do not worry about cancellation fees on courses/classes that didn't meet my expectations
  • I am not hard on myself for missing a day of work or a class because I am sick
  • I will take a "snow day" if it is dangerous to drive
  • If I am tired and exhausted and I cannot do it, then I say no
  • If I am full, I will not finish my plate
  • If I find myself in a relationship that isn't working, I will leave

Obvious stuff to many of you, I realize, but real challenges for me to get over.


  1. Life is too short to stick with something that doesn't make you happy or add value to your life. One of the benefits of age, I find, is that I no longer care what "they" think. I know who I love and what I love and that's where I focus my energy.

    Usually we are far more judgemental about ourselves than anyone else is anyway.

  2. I think your parents taught you a valuable lesson, too many people quit too easily. But that doesn't mean you need to be a masochist! I think we need to be more aware of our own happiness, if something isn't making us happy why are we doing it? Obviously choice is a luxury in some cases, like going to work every morning. Classes that are meant to add to your life are different, if you're not going to get out of it what you need, why waste your time and energy.

  3. My parents were the complete opposite. We were never made to do anything particularly. My parents beleived you found your way in life if you were loved enough. Hence I cant do anything much (like draw,play an instrument,ski)but I am the happiest person I know. Happiness is a skill I would encourage anyone to learn, its great and so useful! Oddly I am not a quitter but I dont make an effort to stick with something which is pointless.


  4. Sometimes the only thing you can do to be kind to yourself is let go! Well done you for making the right decision for you!

  5. @ Money Minder:

    Happiness wasn't something that was stressed when I was growing up.

    If my dad had his way, we would have not had lessons and only studied what made money. What we prefered did not come into the equation.

    My mom, on the other hand, felt it was important to learn a broad range of things and because she was the main money manager, she made it happen.

    You are right. As I have "grown up", I have gradually exerted my likes and dislikes despite outside critism but the toughest voices (likely not mine to begin with...)are the ones that are in my head.

    @ Miss M:

    I do see a difference in my "staying power" with tasks compared to others I know that I attribute to being "dragged through the trenches so many times".

    I can muster up at will (most days!), a large amount of mental and emotional endurance when needed. I just need to do it when it really matters, not just out of habit!

    @ Lizzie:

    You are very fortunate to have come from such a supportive family that didn't try to mold you into something you may not be naturally.

    Skills, you can pick up anytime, it's a matter of having time, interest and maybe a bit of money.

    But happiness isn't something that can be bought. It has to be felt out, worked on and learned a different way if the muscles haven't been used very much.

    The most surprising thing my mother ever told me was that I was the happiest baby. I couldn't believe it!

    I think I was a teenager then and was miserable from probably practicing piano so much and missing out on having a social life!

    @ notesfromthefrugaltrenches:

    Thank you! Letting go hasn't been the easiest task for me but I'm working on it every chance I get!

  6. Hey Middle Way, I'm really proud of you for being able to break out of the conditioning you were put in when growing up and make decisions to 'quit'. What's important is being able to quit consciously, which is what you have learnt to do. Quitting is sometimes the best option out of a situation.

  7. Hi Celes!

    Thank you for your support!