Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Determination, the two-edged sword

It took me some years to notice that the ten blue cards have the 'negative' feelings, while the ten red cards have the 'positive' feelings. And determination is a red card, a positive feeling.

That got me thinking, because for me, determination is a double-edged sword.

You see, I am a rather determined person. And of course, that can be helpful. My determination has kept me focused during my final exams in school and university. It helped me through the difficult times at my first job. It gives me the feeling that I can do whatever I want to do, as long as I set my mind to it.

But that's wrong, isn't it? And sometimes it is really dangerous to my well-being.

Earlier this year, I did a small bicycle tour - just along the river to the next town. I love to bike, so I was looking forward to it. But when I started, it quickly became clear that something wasn't right. I was slower than I used to be, just didn't have the energy I expected to have. The short tour soon felt long and exhausting to me.

But why? I could not see any reason for that. My bike was in good condition, the road was okay, there were no slopes to climb or anything. So I continued. I should be able to do this just fine, so I would do it. I was determined to finish the tour. And finish I did. Afterwards, I wasn't even proud about it, just exhausted and somewhat shocked about my lack of energy. My determination led me do finish the tour, but it wasn't fun and I didn't feel good about it.

My determination got the better of me. It led me to ignore my tiredness and kept me going long after my energy was spent.

This can happen to me in all kinds of situations. If there is something really difficult at work, or in my private life, something that is too much for me to handle by myself – chances are I will stubbornly tackle it and keep on working at it until I am more than exhausted, my well-being run down and my self-esteem low. "But I can make it if I just try hard enough!", I think.

But the truth is: No, sometimes I can't make it. Not alone, and maybe not at all. Sometimes, in these kind of situations, it is best to give up on that assignment, that tour, that piece of work. To admit: I can't do it alone. Or maybe I can't do it at all, at least right now.

Admitting that is hard for me. It feels like admitting defeat. But on the other hand – as soon as I do it, I feel relieved. The weight lifts, the sorrows grow smaller, and I can breathe again.

Mirjam
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