Grit and persistence have become the clarion call of our time. From the “just do it” show to the fire-walking workshop to spiritual persistence training we are surrounded by notions of commit and move forward. These are wonderful messages in so many ways, but not always.
At times we need to have permission to try something and then walk away. Did you take piano lessons and then realize that you would rather play the violin, or perhaps dance or take martial arts lessons? Did you learn to ride a motorcycle and then decide that you would rather drive a car? You did not quit, you changed your mind. And yes, you have permission to do this.
There is a dark side to grit. We can persist in the face of pain and suffering, somehow believing that if we just endure we will move through the challenges and everything will be beautiful. However, when we endure for the sake of enduring, we can walk away from our true path and into danger.
We hear often that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. But that in no way means we should seek out painful situations. Embracing the mythology of martyrdom can prevent us from leaving abusive and harmful situations. Believing that we must always preserver restricts our ability to choose what we want to include in our lives and what we want to leave behind.
Perhaps you tried being vegan, and have realized that you are not as healthy as you were as a vegetarian or even an omnivore. Persistence will not make you healthier. You have permission to change your mind, change how you eat, and find other ways to honor your values around animals.
We have permission to choose when to use persistence and grit, and when to change our mind and walk away. We need the ability to do both without guilt or judgement.