LETTER: Never give up…really!


Editor: A day after her arranged marriage, Mira Dean (not her real name) suddenly realised that there had been a big mistake. Her husband had a problem with addiction.

Having been raised in a conservative family, she had learned to honour her wedding wows. For 15 years, she made every effort towards her husband’s rehabilitation, but every effort failed. He was not co-operating. He became a chronic source of financial and emotional exhaustion.

Mira often wondered how much longer she could continue honouring her wedding vows, or should she give up and move on with her life.

During Mira’s early schooling, she learned a motivational message about never giving up and always trying until the goals were accomplished. This was the secret of success in life. Her parents also reinforced the message of perseverance.

Mira’s teachers gave her a couple of examples. The first example pertained to their country getting its freedom from the colonizers. The ‘freedom fighters’ kept on fighting for more than 100 years against the colonial rulers. Eventually, the rulers gave-up. Mira’s country got its freedom.

In the second story, a king was running away from the battlefield. While hiding in a cave, he observed a spider trying to climb on the wall. The spider kept on falling but it did not give up. Eventually, the spider made it to the top. Seeing the spider’s victory, the king returned to the battlefield and kept on fighting with his solders. Finally, he won.

I too believed in such motivational quotation, until, I came across Tim Jones (not his real name) who was going through a no-win situation. He was working for a boss who was perceived as a “kamikaze leader.” He took credits for all the successes and blamed his subordinates for the failures.

The kamikaze leader apparently had his own psychological issues of insecurity, and inferiority complex. His threshold for fear/anxiety was low. Furthermore, he was not going to move or retire soon. After discussing a number of options with Tim, I suggested, “why don’t you move on to another organization where you may be appreciated for your knowledge, experiences and skills rather than continue to work for someone who is emotionally wounded?” What was any value in maintaining his seniority if he eventually got burned out?

My second encounter was with one of our investment advisors who had education, training and many years of experience in dealing with the stock market. Her advice was, “we should always have an exit strategy.” This meant that even before investing in any stock, we should have a plan to exit from it before we end up incurring greater level of losses.

Looking at it from the point-of-view of mental health, one may find that winning a war at any cost is not necessarily the answer to a happy outcome. Accept what you can’t change. Leave the battlefield and learn to live with peace within. Abandoning the battlefield is not a sign of weakness, but a smart strategy.

Naresh James



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