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Cave Early!

by bevbarnes on November 13, 2013

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Do you keep trying endlessly to make something work that isn’t?  Do you hold on to relationships, jobs, friendships and even food in your fridge far past the due date?  Are you addicted to doing, accomplishing or working until you drop?  Do you have the uncanny ability to find the silver lining, in 3 milliseconds for any sad, distressing or disappointing situation?

If any of the above apply to you, welcome. You are officially a member of the Avoid your Painful Feelings Club (AWFC).

As a recovering member of this club I had to deprogram my mind.

I had to start believing that expressing sadness or disappointment and surrendering wasn’t a sign of weakness.

I had to start understanding that sometimes giving up meant that I could drop the wrong goal and start pursuing the right one.

I needed to believe that when you cut yourself off from your emotions, you also cut yourself off from one of the key tools that can help you navigate your life.

As my friend and Mentor Martha Beck says, to get to your right life, you need to “cave early”.

Caving early – giving in, giving up, surrendering, letting go, will take you off the wrong path with lightening speed. Caving early means that you stop believing that tolerating pain is your birthright.

She who tolerates the most pain, doesn’t win.

That’s just something they told us as kids so that we’d follow the rules.

Not caving early is

  • Staying in a niche you’ve outgrown because you don’t want to disappoint people;
  • Writing a regular blog post, when you hate writing, just because you think that it is something you must do to build an on-line business;
  • Bracing yourself for a regular commute on an icy highway;
  • Denying your need for rest and alone time and hosting a family event;
  • Going on yet another ski holiday with your husband when you hate skiing.

In fact, coping with stuff you hate will just bring you unhappiness, anger and resentment.

Seething resentment doesn’t lead you to your right life.

It leads to inner angst, repressed sadness and rage that over the long term show up as chronic illness and pain.

Figure out if you need to cave early by following these steps:

1. Allow and welcome your emotions about the situation that is on your mind – particularly sadness and grief. Allow yourself to wail, complain and cry. Put on sad music. I like the final sound track from the television show Lost, called Moving On. Here it is on You-Tube.

2. Express your emotions. That doesn’t mean vomiting your emotions all over other people. You can express your emotions in private – in your car, your bathroom or when you have a window of time for yourself. Express your emotions by emoting, talking or writing. Make a recording using your smart phone honestly expressing your feelings. If you have a close friend or Coach share what you are feeling with them. Write or draw in your journal. Draw a picture of your feelings if you don’t have words or write a poem. Just make sure that you honestly express what you are feeling. This will give you relief and you will start “know” on an inner level what to do (if anything) next.

3. Once you’ve expressed your emotions ask yourself: What do I need to let go?  Listen for the answer. Your inner knowing will kick in. That is for some people a voice, for others a felt sense, but in all cases it is peaceful and loving advice and counsel.

4. Follow the counsel of your quiet inner voice.  You’ll only get the advice from your inner voice that aligns with what you truly want. Often you’ll get self care advice that you need to follow before you take any action.

I’ve heard “It’s over” as a calm fearless statement – both about relationships and about my work. I didn’t have to do anything to follow that counsel; I just had to recognize the truth of that statement and then the circumstances magically arose to shift my path.


De-programming a lifetime of conditioning takes time, so be kind to yourself and take baby steps. Soon you’ll be welcoming your emotions and curious to find out what their message means in your life.

I LOVE to hear from you! When has caving early helped you? How do you know that it’s time to throw in the towel and let go? Share below on the blog.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Houkje November 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This seems like a tricky one, Bev… especially if you are (as have been) entrenched in the life coaching world. As coaches, we are are taught to ‘examine’ all thoughts that cause pain. We do this first for ourselves, so we can model it for our clients.

How do you know when to quit versus do some thought work on a painful thought?

Also, if you live in the United States, you are live in a a culture that says “You need to KEEP GOING!! PURSUE YOUR DREAMS! DON’T GIVE UP!!” This can muddle things even further when trying to know when to give up or keep going.

Would love to hear your thoughts.


bevbarnes December 4, 2013 at 3:17 am

I love this comment Houkje. I loved it so much that I wrote a whole blog post on it this week. So I’m not going to answer you right here. Check out the post this Thursday called “Does Caving Early mean Ditching your Dream? I love your thoughtful comments Houkje. xoxo


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