Lingerers and Quitters


This month’s issue of Psychology Today has a great article, “Move On!” , encouraging us all to do just that. If you’re thinking of escaping but second guessing yourself like crazy, this is the article for you. An excerpt:

“Some people plod away in dreary jobs and dead relationships, while others are forever cutting people off and finding new careers. If you fall into one of these two extreme categories, your tendency could be a default.

At one end of the emotional spectrum are those with high need for closure. People with this mindset want definite answers. They would rather be fired or broken up with than linger on in ambiguity. These types prefer order and predictability in the world and tend to be decisive. If you suspect you fit the bill, you may be cutting yourself off from the rewards that come from waiting to see how situations unfold. Your anxiety is driving you to force resolutions—but though you may feel better temporarily, you may also miss out on better opportunities in the long run.

But those with a habit of avoiding denouements altogether are also cutting themselves off from potentially fulfilling alternatives. “Sometimes people don’t end things because they are lazy or have a low tolerance for frustration,” says Lubetkin.

Opposed though they are, the inclinations to quit prematurely or to prolong the inevitable share a core feature, says Hayes: “Each distracts you from confronting deeper motivations, such as fear of failure or of intimacy. Either way, you are not being mindful of your true feelings.”

2 thoughts on “Lingerers and Quitters

  1. Abigail Samoun says:

    One of the hardest questions to answer truthfully always seems to be ‘How are you feeling?’ We’re supposedly the best experts on ourselves—after all, who other than ourselves has access to our most intimate thoughts and feelings?—yet why is it so often difficult to “be mindful of your true feelings”? Sometimes i think that the English language is dreadfully limited in terms of defining emotions, but maybe it’s only that emotions can’t often be pinned down to mad, sad, glad, and scared (I used to go to a therapist who would begin every session by asking me which one of these feelings I was currently experiencing). How can you possibly pin down how you feel about your mother, or boyfriend, or sister? Our true feelings toward the people we love are a mess of conflicting emotions—we love them, we can’t stand them, we want to possess them, we want to get away from them, we want to get inside their heads, we want to hug them and never let go, we would rather die than see them suffer, we want to hurt them because they’ve hurt us—-so OF COURSE we’re confused. OF COURSE we feel unable to make definitive choices. So how does one learn to accept that middle way?


  2. Eliza Amos says:

    And of course the Buddhists tell you to surf out these feelings, to sit with them and observe them rather than react to them. Inevitably, they contradict each other sometimes. So I find it useful to take note of ALL feelings and hang out with them for a while before I make a big decision.

    A while back, I read BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell and he advocated the exact opposite–that we should just act on our immediate feelings. When, at an event at Spirit Rock, I asked the oh-so wise Jack Kornfield about how to balance gut instincts with the Buddhist practice of sitting and observing, he sort of laughed and told me to find my own path. Damned Buddhists.

    All I know is that I feel better sitting and observing my feelings for a while, and THEN quitting–I mean acting. 😉


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