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Brain Science Behind Giving Up

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  • #344804
    Fiest
    Participant

    Is anyone familiar with how the brain can cause us to give up hope?

    For me it’s relating to making changes in my life for the better… everyday all day working at it. And then one day it just all falls apart, even if nothing has actually happened, where I just don’t see the point. From there I’ll usually allow myself to feel what I’m feeling, usually sadness, hopelessness, then maybe anger at why I can’t just be happy.

    My real question is, at this point, why does it feel better to just give up? Like the effort and problem are insurmountable. I know this isn’t going to lead to growth or happiness, so why does it feel so good to just throw in the towel and resign myself to just being miserable?

    I’ve been dealing with this for a long time now. Only recently have I come across the neuroscience behind behaviors, which has made my work at creating new behaviors a little easier. But this one I can’t understand since it seems my brain chemistry should have changed away from this type of self-defeating behavior.

    #344812
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Fiest:

    “how the brain can cause us to give up hope? why does it feel better to just give up? Like the effort and problem are insurmountable..”- because when we are anxious, having this ongoing fear for too long, we get very tired. Depression (loss of hope and motivation) happens when the brain has been anxious for too long. It is exhausted and needs a long, long rest.

    It is similar to an animal notices a predator approaching. It feels fear and that fear makes it possible to run away very fast. When the animal reaches safety, it rests for a long, long time. Because it is not just the running that is exhausting, but fear itself is tiring.

    So when you, an anxious person, feels hope for a better life, working on it “everyday all day”, you get tired- not just because of the work you do, but mostly because you feel anxious while working for a better life for yourself, and you get exhausted, needing to rest for a long time.

    anita

    #344820
    Fiest
    Participant

    This is a brilliant analogy, Anita! Thank you for sharing!

    I guess I am anxious when I’m in fixing mode. I never really thought of myself as anxious. But there’s definitely a fear of failing and feeling uncomfortable feelings. Like my biggest fear is of feeling things that could lead to me feeling down.

    I do feel exhausted. This makes so much sense.

    Blessings to you!

    #344822
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Fiest:

    If you find ways to lessen your anxiety on a regular basis, you will experiencing lasting energy that will keep you going and going. When I participated in my first quality psychotherapy, my therapist at the time had me listen to a series of mindfulness guided meditations by Mark Williams, as a way to lessen my anxiety. You may want to try that or some other guided meditations that will work for you, as a start.

    anita

    #344834
    Fiest
    Participant

    I will do this! Focus on how I use my energy… it’s something I never thought of. Thank you again!

    #344842
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Fiest. Please let me know how the mindfulness guided meditation (or some other calming guided meditation) works for you.

    anita

    #345212
    Fiest
    Participant

    Today I noticed how excited and wound up I get when I communicate with people via text. And I noticed my energy usage doing that. That lead me to realized that I kind of thrive on this anxious weird adrenaline-like energy. It makes me excited and friendly, but also kind of crazy. Was wondering if I’m maybe kind of addicted to this state.

    Today I feel really really good. I feel less needy and worried. And I’ve been mindful of balancing my energy all day. Last night I spent time watching my thoughts, sort of like a self-guided mindfulness meditation. It had been a while since I had just laid in bed, doing nothing. No reading, no fixing.

    I came to a realization about my relationships today, which I wanted to post a question about in the forums for feedback.

    Thank you again! 🙂

    #345238
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Fiest:

    You are welcome.

    When you do “thrive on this anxious weird adrenaline-like energy”, feeling “excited and friendly.. feel really really good”- it is not anxiety that you are experiencing, it is joy!

    Fear/ anxiety is a kind of excitement that feels bad; joy is a kind of excitement that feels good.

    anita

     

    #345372
    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Fiest

    You seem to have a good handle on how to proceed. I just wanted to add that most people assume they understand what hope is and how to hope. More often then not it gets entangled with existential angst, ego, control, desire for certainty, fear of uncertainty, desire to have life conform to our demands of how it ‘should’ be… Hope confuse as a kind of passive wishing.. waiting for that ‘something’ other then what it is.

    Hope is paradoxical. It is neither passive waiting nor is it unrealistic forcing of circumstances.

    Hope is like the crouched tiger, which will jump only when the moment for jumping has come. To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, yet hope is not desperate. Those who hope unskillfully settle down for self comfort (verses self care) or for violence; those whose hope is skillful see and cherish all signs of new life and are ready every moment to help the birth of that which is ready to be born.

    To Hope is a state of being, an inner readiness. “and yet it would not be wrong to say that the tree hopes for the sunlight and expresses this hope by twisting its trunk toward the sun” – Erich Fromm

    The Practice of hope is a art.. perhaps related to the idea of Zen’s doing by not doing…  keeping ones eyes open while continuing to engage with life.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by Peter.
    #346008
    Fiest
    Participant

    This is funny to read! That I might not know joy when I feel it!

    I’ve spent the past week continuing to notice my energy and when it starts getting riled up and trying to bring it back down. It really is a life-changing exercise. I still haven’t sat down to meditate as you recommended! But I do go on hours long walks and try to just breathe and watch my thoughts and stay in the present.

    Thank you again!

    #346012
    Fiest
    Participant

    Dear Peter,

    I really appreciate having you share your wisdom and perspectives. Thank you so much! I try and see things from a western CBT perspective, a neuroscience perspective and a more zen buddhist perspective. But I must admit that I haven’t focused on that latter much recently, as I thought that I might have been confusing myself or bastardizing the teachings.

    When I read what you wrote, all of this is something I understood. I guess I moved away into a desperate wanting hope in an almost rebellion to what I thought was my living without desire for so long. I kept the philosophy of living without desire without keeping the practice of meditation or honest self-reflection, which led me to this space of serious confusion. I thought that the reason I didn’t have what I wanted in life because I never allowed myself to dream or have goals, because that is just grasping and desire for something other than what it. This new year’s I decided to have some goals and work hard for them for once. Ironically, they’ve all been squashed permanently because of the pandemic. (And once again I tell myself that this is why I shouldn’t have goals and then give up hope).

    I will reflect on what you expressed that true hope is because this does resonate in an obvious way!

    Thank you again, Peter!

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