Pointless Persistence

Sometimes we continue to repeat a behavior or walk down a path in the mistaken belief that somehow we can change the outcome with persistence.  A pair of robins year after year choose to nest on or near a house.  They also believe their reflection in the window is a robin threatening their family harmony.  From first light until after dark they fly at the window trying to drive away the intruder.  The drumbeat of their wings is the ongoing percussion of  spring.  But at the same time they are using their precious newly regained spring energy to chase after something that is not even there.  The result is not two or three broods a season, they only manage one.

Some of us seem to follow the same strategy – continue beating on the reflection in the hope that it will somehow go away.  When one finds themself continuing a particular path and the result is not the desired one, when is it time to veer off?  And how do we know when to find another path to the same destination or change the destination altogether?  Often it is a case of brutal honesty. Stepping outside of oneself and asking:

  • Is this what I want my life to look like?
  • Is this a good use of my time and energy?
  • What do I expect will be the outcome?
  • Do I have control over that outcome?
  • What am I getting from persisting, and is it worth it?
  • What would I do if I didn’t do this?

Once you have taken stock of the situation, how do you begin to make the change?  When persisting in a direction that is not getting the result that you are hoping for, it is time to fully set it aside for a time and not try a different approach.  What if the robins just gave up now and waited to see if the bird in the window was really a problem?  Often setting something aside when the progress has stopped instead of trying to force it, will open new ideas, some possibly related to the sticking point, others, unrelated and fresh.  The new and fresh ideas and pursuits are easily overlooked in  the dogged persistence of the futile.

If after a time, no resolution presents itself and you have found better uses for your time and energy, you will want to let the pointless persistence go.  For many it is difficult to “give up”, it is often equated with failure.  Yet the failure is to resist acknowledging the obvious and continue to try to change something or someone who is beyond our ability to change or control.  Reminding oneself of the positive outcomes of using our drive and energy in pursuits that reward us with success and pleasure is a counterbalance to  negativity of believing one has given up.  Giving oneself the permission to let go of a pointless persistence opens up the doors and windows to opportunities we have yet to imagine with the blinders we have worn.  Steps to let go:

  • Adopt a new activity or pursuit that is in line with you overall happiness goals
  • Trust that the resolution will present itself in time
  • If it does not, accept that there is no resolution
  • Reward yourself with positive messages and enjoyable activities
  • Be mindful of the time and energy you have gained in letting go

With so many choices; to waste even one is a shame.  Choosing a meaningful path is certainly a place to begin.

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