Are You a Quitter or Just Moving On? - The Psychology of Word Choice and Usage in Times of Transition

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“The time to quit is before you wish you had.”

Kimberly K. Jones, Sand Dollar Summer


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it."

W.C. Fields


The words quit and quitter seem to have a negative connotation no matter how you slice it. A quitter is viewed as lacking in determination and character.

Here in America for example, most of us were taught to not give up, to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" and, to fight on. I certainly was raised this way. Quips and quotes in this regard were repeated to me on a regular basis by my parents and at school. In my lifetime however, I have come to see pitfalls in this way of thinking.

Could it be that you are wise to sometimes quit and those who do not are fools? There are numerous instances where this is the case. A problem however is with our choice of words and how we use them. Words can be powerful and significantly influence perception

What if you are not quitting but instead are just "cutting your losses" and getting out? What if you just know or recognize when it is time to "move on"?

For example, many people have tried and tried to make a troubled or difficult relationship work and this is commendable. How long should you work at it though when It is so arduous, painful, and soul crushing? Why keep hitting your head against the proverbial tree or wall? Could it be you are clinging too tightly to your childhood teachings about never giving up?

No Sir----you are not gonna give up---you are gonna put that square peg in a round hole if it kills you. You are not a quitter!

Another person however does not perceive it as quitting; they recognize the futility of the situation and choose to "move on". Your word choice and perception in this respect is of paramount importance.

If you sense the need to get out of a bad relationship but will perceive yourself as a quitter if you do, you are more likely to stay. After all, who wants to be a quitter? If you view yourself as "moving on" or as knowing "when to fold them" you are likely to "cut your losses" and "get out while the getting is good"?

You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away...

Is the quitter better off? You see, doesn't the word quitter just sound bad no matter what? Word choice and usage are incredibly powerful!

"Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive."

Donald Trump

Do you like your job? Why stay if you are miserable or if you hate it? Many times a person will stay because they think it will get better...and sometimes it does. Many times however, it will not get better; what you see is what you get. Many people stay at a terrible job because they fear risk and change. For example, they might be vested in terms of time served, may have decent benefits, etc. I understand all of this but is it worth being miserable for another 20 years? it is a shame the situations we sometimes find ourselves in.

I use to have a job that became miserable. Once it started to become miserable it never got better again but instead became more and more miserable. I was not treated well. I told myself that once I got in 5 years that I'd be treated better but I wasn't. I then deceived myself again believing that once I had put in 10 years I'd be considered a really valuable commodity....but I wasn't. There is much more to this story but I will spare you.

What a fool I was for sticking with that horrible monstrosity of a job!

Ahhhh, but I had that never give up attitude and it is that kind of rigid, black and white thinking which, to a degree, kept me there. I stayed there for 13 years when I should have stayed there for no more than 5.

I've also played the fool trying my best to make a relationship work---going above and beyond when it was futile and not meant to be. Again, such a waste in terms of time and energy.

I have been married now for 11 years and it has not been that difficult. If you are compatible with your partner, things will go much smoother. Two people working together can accomplish much---it is beautiful!

My current job is 100 times better than the hideous job I described prior. My current job pays less but so what! Would you rather make a few more dollars an hour and be miserable or make a few less dollars an hour and feel much better?

You do need to judge carefully if you decide to transition from one situation to another. You don't want to transition prematurely but also don't want to stick with something longer than you should. If you are able to recognize and remain aware of the psychological impact of your word choice and usage during times of transition you will make better, healthier decisions.

"Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it's learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.”

Osayi Osar-Emokpae

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