Hard Conversations - Quit or Don’t Quit

Uncategorized Mar 21, 2023

High-intensity effort puts us in direct confrontation with ourselves. 

We are changed by the effort such that those who chose the work beforehand may weaken & so lose their belief in the ability to finish along the way. 

Advised by this doubt, one may question whether to continue or not.

Thus begins the hard conversation: “quit or don't quit.”

Such internal dialogue is not restricted to sport or exercise, but high intensity effort compels its asking commonly enough that the negotiation itself appears to be an integral part of physical training. Consistently hosting this conversation allows us to change the outcome- hence many of our workouts feature the built in opportunity to do so.

However, understanding the difference between quitting & failure is prerequisite to the “quit/ dont quit” dilemma. Rather than resorting to the merriam-webster definitions, we shall have a look at the broad terms relative to responsibility, ego, unconscious meanings, and how the words are used in day to day communication.

In prevailing use- the term “failure” contains a subliminal hint of external responsibility although tone & context may infer a degree of personal accountability. Truly self aware individuals might admit, “I failed,” & assume responsibility for the outcome. But, it is more common to associate failure with overwhelming external conditions. On the other hand, “I quit” reserves no ambiguity whatsoever about who did what & who is responsible for that choice of action. 

Declaring that, “I failed after trying as hard as I possibly could & then some,” is not the same as saying, 

“I quit because it was too daunting to continue,” 

…or “I quit because the outcome wasn't going to be consistent with my self-image.” 

In the interest of self preservation the ego quite easily conflates the two. 

This intervention prevents the possibility of growth, change or learning to occur.

The truth is- it's incredibly difficult for the ego to see itself as the sole reason for stopping an effort—that same ego that voluntarily embarked on a specific challenge can very quickly shift the blame to protect its appearance. A fundamental human-flaw.

Egoic self-delusion prevents growth [says Maslow] …so if I am trying to change aspects of my own human condition I must undertake a ruthless self-assessment, accept my behavior & the beliefs that allow it.  
In this- honesty is paramount.

Under no circumstances do i recommend you continue any movement that causes pain

…except the existential sort

Of course, as part of the negotiation process during high effort moments I must learn to differentiate the signals warning me of genuine impending harm & those I merely dislike. 

So I ask myself whether, apart from the acute instances of a poorly executed lift under extreme fatigue- 

“have I ever damaged myself irreparably during training in the gym”

-especially in the context of confronting an oxygen limitation (gasping frantically for air)

-which is by and large when the “Quit/Dont quit” negotiation most frequently visits us.

…The answer is- 

“no, I only thought I was going to die. That feeling was finite, i never died & never even needed a hospital. I just didn't like how I felt.” 

whatever I think, 

whatever I say,

whatever I do-

writes a pattern 

& that pattern of behavior is in me

…no matter what I am doing

There will be [many] days when my desire to quit will be strong- 

when training is hard enough that it demands my all.

I must become the work itself to accomplish it. 

I must hear myself doing it. 

I must interrogate & reinforce myself every step of the way

…just as long as I don't quit. 

It's that simple.

Habits formed in the gym,[both good & bad] are expressed outside of it.

If you recognize a bad habit in the gym & use artificial means in that space to change it- 

practicing to win the “quit/dont quit” conversation- 

that new pattern you have written goes with you, 

everywhere you go, 
in everything you do.


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