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  • Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT

Surrendering versus Giving Up

There is a difference between surrendering and giving up. Although sometimes challenging, there is strength in knowing when something is not working and taking action to end it. When searching the definitions of “surrender” and “give up” it was interesting to see the nuanced differences between these words. “Giving up” means one has resigned themselves to failure, whereas “surrender” indicates one is submitting control to something perceived as an enemy/opponent. 


With this in mind, I would like you to consider the value of exercising surrender instead of seeing yourself as a failure for giving up. When something isn't working out, or you recognize that continuing is only going to hurt those involved, including you, there is wisdom in stepping back, pausing, and taking a break. Perhaps the entity you are surrendering to has something to teach you. Surrendering can give you space to learn from your circumstances or mistakes and eventually grow into something different than planned.

Surrendering is a choice. In certain circumstances, surrendering and starting over has value. Is something truly a failure if one learns from a misadventure or miscalculation? When something comes to an end, can you consider it an opportunity to grow and change or help those who are suffering as a result? If so, I propose that you will come out the other side different (if not better) than where you started.

Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.


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