Knowing when to Quit

I have always wanted to be a yoga teacher, and up until a year ago I was following this dream; I am passionate about the benefits of yoga and wanted to share this with others in the Parkinson’s community. However, my body had other ideas; last year my health declined quite badly, I was exhausted and overwhelmed, and I decided to leave the teacher training course. Whilst the purpose of yoga is certainly not to reach the perfect posture, I was just unable to move to the level needed to teach others.

I was devastated, I loved the course and I felt like a failure. We are often taught that quitting should never be an option, but Parkinson’s, which is always my greatest guide and teacher, was telling me that I was out of kilter and off course. I had spread myself too thinly; I was stressed and irritable, and I could clearly see that I was failing. I spent years ignoring messages from my body and vowed never again to let the demands of life undermine my health, I knew that giving up was the right thing to do.

Yoga teaches us to prioritise peace of mind, not to punish ourselves for what we can’t do, and most importantly to listen to our bodies when they say ‘no’. My own personal practice of yoga continued to be my sanctuary and it helped me to be at peace with quitting; warrior pose reminded me of the need to defend my health, tree pose highlighted the need for balance, and corpse pose taught me the importance of rest and surrender. I had clearly been missing the point! Although I had failed at achieving this goal, I was given the opportunity to do a lot of soul searching, and realised that this just wasn’t my path.

Sometimes we must persevere, and sometimes we need to quit, but how do we know which decision to make? Well, for me it’s straightforward; my Parkinson’s symptoms will always guide me as they are trying to protect me. You too might find the answer by looking at your own situation and its impact on your health; anything that damages our physical or mental health needs to be re-evaluated.  Quitting is often viewed negatively, but for me it was the wisest thing to do. I feel that we need to develop a healthy relationship with quitting as it might just be the right decision for our health, we can also learn from our mistakes and then do things differently in the future.  

It’s certainly a dent to the ego to be seen as a quitter, but those who continue to ‘do it all’ whilst their lives are in turmoil, are not really winning either. Many of us are afraid of being seen as unreliable and don’t want to let others down, so we just let ourselves down by doing what we ‘ought’ to do! However, when we take care of our own needs, we are better parents, partners, friends, and employees. Why put the brakes on this?

I’m now at the stage where I see failure as a redirection. Perhaps I was chasing something that I thought I wanted? Maybe my time and energy could be more helpful elsewhere? Problems often come along to remind us that something needs to change, and no experience is wasted.

However, I fully accept that it’s not always possible to walk away from every situation that isn’t going well, and maybe the answer is not to quit but to make changes or to try to do more to succeed.

I’m sure that if we look back over our lives, we can see that failure often lead us down a much better path and we managed to survive. Sticking our heads in the sand will not cause problems to go away, and if we’re not part of the solution we are part of the problem. Remember that dreams are not time bound, and you can always try again.  Listen to the whispers and nudges from your body, it always holds the answer, but choose to follow the signs now before you’re forced to do so in the future…

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