Why It’s Healthy to Admit Defeat and Wave Your White Flag

Everyone has times in their life when they ought to admit defeat. Whether it’s in your love life, how you handle your money, how you handle friendships or something else, there really is a point at which you should do yourself a favor and admit you’ve hit a wall. I’ve seen this in everyone I’ve ever coached. If you have a spot in your life where something just isn’t working and you’re at your wit’s end, it’s time (and OK!) to admit you’ve lost the battle.

Wave the white flag but not on yourself—on your pattern.

You see, there’s a reason you’re feeling so stuck. It’s because you have a repeat pattern and you need to break it. When you find yourself in a familiar situation and you start to feel that inkling of déjà vu, start paying attention. The first thoughts you may notice are the same ones you always think when things aren’t going right:

I keep failing.

I’ll never get the career I want.

I never get the man I want.

I never … and on and on.

If you can start to see something screwy about how you keep doing the same thing over and over, then it’s time to break this pattern you’re perpetuating. Instead of running into the same wall, the most important thing you should do when something in your life falls apart (again) is to stop. Stop doing the things you usually do. Stop thinking the things you usually think and saying the things you normally say. Instead, become a “puddle.” The puddle is a part of the Handel Method that’s especially designed to help you recognize life’s “maybe it’s you” moments so that you can finally surrender … and in your yielding, find a way out.

I have never met a person who doesn’t have at least one area of life that’s either killing them at that moment or is waiting in the wings ready to pop out again at the slightest provocation. Interestingly, most people don’t know when they should actually wave the white flag and cry. Often, what happens instead is you actually perpetuate staying stuck and defeated: You keep going and going, trying to blame others along the way.

You may have some kind of a repeating theme, like “my father left, so I’m bad with men,” or “my parents didn’t help me in college, so that’s why I’m still broke.” You may even have some level of understanding of your theme or enlightened version of your story, in which you realize that you’re in your pattern. And most people in that space, whether they understand they’re in a pattern or not, do NOT see a way out! So I’m telling you to try something different. Wake up and cry! Wake up and have your pity party. Turn yourself into a puddle.

There is good reason to puddle and declare defeat. Sometimes it’s true that the only way out is to hit rock bottom. You hear it from an alcoholic; you hear of people declaring bankruptcy. But you might need to cause a bottom-out in order to stop perpetuating the same pattern in your life. Can you declare an area bankrupt? Can you cause a pity party? Can you decide you need to puddle?

And the answer is yes, of course you can.

This whole coaching moment is for learning that you need to say “mercy” in an area of your life. Once you do, then you can move into the next phase, in which you devise your new action plan. But there’s no skimping on the pity party. There is no mercy-lite. You cannot pretend that you want to scream mercy, like, “oh well, maybe, sort of, mercy, but really it’s my mother’s fault” or “it’s my business partner’s fault.” The most important rule for screaming mercy and turning into a puddle is that you blame yourself 100 percent.

Now—and this is key—I do not mean to blame yourself in order to say it’s your fault, then feel bad about yourself and punish yourself. This is different. Now you finally get to see that “maybe it’s you.” It’s a very serious, different type of declaration. It’s a statement of “I’m responsible.” It’s a profound place where you realize that “no one’s coming to save me. I got myself here and I’m the only one who can get myself out of here, if I face myself.” The moment that you can say all of that, welcome to the puddle. Now start to cry. Literally cry. Turn yourself into a puddle. Force a breakdown and let yourself cry over it.

Once you throw out your white flag and declare you’re a puddle, you’re closer to success than you’ve probably been in a long time because it means you’re admitting that there is a pattern in your life. You’re admitting that you have not had the insight as to why you’ve been perpetuating that pattern, and you admit it to yourself. If you can be that honest and that vulnerable, then you’re ready to embrace the bottom so you can find your way out. And you will.

Visit handelgroup.com to receive $75 off a subscription to Inner.U, HG’s digital life coaching course.

This post originally appeared on handelgroup.com.

Photo credit: Poike, Thinkstock