“I give up!” is one of the most hopeful statements to hear if you’re willing to understand and help others. This seemingly counter-intuitive twist of logic is witnessed daily in the workplace. However to appreciate the full potential of this powerful amalgam of anger, frustration, and despair requires openness, empathy, respect, and especially strong self-awareness.
Consider yourself. Here you are, working your butt off making deadlines and meeting others’ expectations, thinking creatively, pouring energy, blood, sweat, and tears into what you’re accountable for. Is there recognition for a job well done? Recognition that you even exist? Zip. Nadda. Nothing. You offer suggestions responded to with cold stares or worse, derision. You’re not invited in. You’re left in the cold. You try and try, and then you cry. Finally you say, “$#% it!… I give up!”
Every day in every workplace thousands of employee scream out this self-affirming three-word war cry, either in their head, or out loud to others. Think about what you felt the last time you threw up your hands and loudly, or softly, or slowly, and/or very, very succinctly said, “That’s it! I give up! What’s the point?”
Those who “give up” are in fact very energized to “give.” They are feeling and expressing a strong emotion, sometimes many emotions, en-wrapped in that tightly packaged three-word declaration of independence. Emotions are energy. How they are understood and directed makes the difference between becoming healthier and happier or spiraling down into doom and despair. To those who fuel the words “I give up” it is a time for self-reflection and evaluation. You can channel the emotional energy being felt at that very moment from a defense against an attack on your narrow sense of pride, power and purpose into a positive new plan to feel good about yourself.
You do many things well. Focus on the self-gratification that comes from the doing, not the accolades you expected from the having done. Use your emotional energy to honestly re-evaluate your purpose. Are you giving to others what you think they expect and need because that’s what you need and expect from them? This dangerous condition is what I call counter-congruency. I means you see the needs of others through the mirror of your own needs. And when others are not happy because, well, they are not you and that’s not what they need, you erupt with frustration and say “I give up!” By transferring the bubbling energy of giving up into a re-evaluation of your congruency with others’ expectations, and to the self-satisfaction that comes from the pleasure of just doing what you do, “giving up” transforms from a defeatist feeling to one of re-affirmation and hope–to simply giving.