The Difference Between Giving Up and Giving In

By Amber Blackburn

Giving up? Or giving in? There’s a big difference! If you’re going through tough times or facing life-altering news, giving up has probably at least crossed your mind. The same goes for anyone living with a chronic illness or mental health challenges. Eventually, we all come to a point when we have to decide if we are going to give up…or just give in and make changes that can help us learn to live our life to the fullest!

That’s the difference between giving up and giving in. For many of us, giving up feels like failure. Like we just simply aren’t strong enough to handle the situation at hand. On the other hand, giving in feels more like an acceptance that you can’t change certain things and have decided to find the best way to deal with them.

Here are some examples:

Giving Up: “The pain is just simply too much to bear. It is just too much to handle. I am done trying. I will just throw the covers over my head and stay in bed all day.”

We’ve all felt like this sometimes – it’s inevitable and absolutely okay. That being said, if you want to move through your challenges instead of ending up stuck in them, you have to put a different spin on how you look at your pain. After all, staying in bed for the rest of your life isn’t the best option…

Giving In: “I know I cannot control what I’m going through as much as I would like to. I am sad and frustrated but I will show myself some grace. I will rest when I have to and do all the things I can to make things better. I know my challenges may slow me down, but negatives don’t have to rule my life.”

There are going to be days when things are at their worst and you are going to want to give up. And that’s okay. A day here and there where you feel defeated is natural. But to live the life you want to live, you have to change your mindset and not allow challenges to change who you are, and the things you do. When you accept your pain and learn to live your best life despite it, that’s giving in.

Giving Up: “I can no longer do the things I enjoy or get the grades I want or be the friend I’ve been in the past. I’m just useless.”

This is a BIG struggle. When your life is impacted to the degree that you can no longer to do the things you’ve always done, it is easy to feel useless. But chances are that you are your own worst critic and no one else is viewing you as useless.

Giving In: “I wish I could continue to do everything I did before, but that is just not possible at this point. But maybe I can find new things to enjoy, or I can find support to help me learn new ways to do the things I love.”

Take some time to mourn the changes that come from your whatever you’re going through, and then start looking for something you can do that is better for you. Chances are whatever you end up doing will also be better for your psyche.

Giving Up: “My friends are all getting together to hang out.. but I just can’t imagine being happy right now, so I just won’t bother going at all.”

Giving In: “I know it’s hard to look past my challenges, but it’s still good to be around people. I’ll get together with my friends, knowing that I can always leave if I need to.”

Even though it often feels like it’s not worth trying to have fun when you feel awful, making some realistic adjustments can be a great way to give in without giving up. You don’t have to give up completely, but maybe you need to do what is best for you. Chances are your friends will be thrilled to see you no matter how much time you spend with them.

Don’t get me wrong, there may be things you lose while you’re struggling, maybe friendships or relationships with people who didn’t care enough to stay around. But most of the time, that’s other people giving up. You didn’t choose to give up; they did. You can’t change someone else’s thoughts or feelings, and if you try, chances are you will fail. You have to focus on YOU — what is in your best interest physically, psychologically and emotionally? There are going to be hours, days or even weeks when you just want to give up. You’ve had a bad day, you don’t feel well, you are in pain and crawling into bed… and hiding from the world seems like the best option. And while that’s a natural reaction and okay to do for a while, it is not good for you or your physical or mental health to live in that negative space.

Don’t give up. Instead, find a way to give in. By giving in to your condition, you can find the adjustments that can keep you from giving up.