How to Get Through When you Just Want to Give Up

How to Get Through When you Just Want to Give Up

Life’s path can be gruelling at times, so just take the next right step. By Lauren Bloxham

Reading time: 4 minutes

We all know this famous quote by Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But what happens next? What happens halfway through, when the body is exhausted, and the mind wants to flee? What happens when we find ourselves in challenging terrain, a long way from home, and a long way from our destination?

Walking* in nature can be meditative, it offers a pace and rhythm of movement that feels sustainable to me. The uneven ground which requires attention, the moment of wonder that captures the awareness and imagination, whether it’s a dramatic landscape, a wedge of geese returning for the winter, flashes of colour from wild orchids, or seeing a bird of prey.

Walking in nature is yoga in action; the balance of body, mind and emotion coming together for the immediate experience. There’s very little opportunity for the mind to wander when the view is stunning, or the landscape is challenging. The experience becomes one of full presence.

I recently walked the West Highland Way, a 96-mile path from Milngavie to Fort William in Scotland. With eight days of walking ahead of me, carrying all the gear I needed, I wondered what gems of wisdom I’d uncover. I wondered if I’d come home changed.

By putting myself in the way of this challenge I had all the expectations and uncertainties you’d expect. It felt as though the walk would be a distilled experience of life. A safe and structured place to experience myself within, with clear boundaries about what is real and challenging.

Rather than what can often feel like the blurred lines of everyday life, and the skewed sense of my own capacity simply because external factors continue to ask for more. My limitations and capacity on the walk would be clear because there was just me, my pack, and the path.

By day three, the path was gruelling. The landscape was beautiful, the weather was great, but I was tired and sore, and the terrain was challenging. The guidebook had suggested it would be, but I didn’t really have any concept of what gruelling would feel like until I found myself in it.

It’s here that I slipped into a mental rabbit hole, a deep dark place in which I had no sense of mental direction, and no foothold, just a feeling of freefall which expressed itself in despair. “I can’t do this…” came my inner voice… “It’s too hard, I need to give up”. As I continued to take slow, unstable steps across tree roots and slippery rocks, my mind was screaming at me. I looked ahead and could only see more of what was causing me so much despair.

Checking the map, I could see I had miles of terrain just like this ahead. I could feel myself welling up. Everything in me was at full capacity, physically, mentally and emotionally. There was no comfortable place to stop. No soft grass verge to rest on.

As I contemplated how impossible giving up would be, something in me turned from despair to gritty resolve, something transformed. “It’s not over, you’re not there yet – keep going,” came my inner voice.

One slow step in front of another, as my mantra becomes: “just take the next right step”. I find sustenance in knowing I’ll make it if I just keep stepping. Just keep moving.

And along this gruelling path there are moments of sweet relief. Taking my shoes off and dipping my hot painful feet in the cool clear water of Loch Lomond. Laying down on a log to rest the weight of my sore heavy body, and a curious robin who shares my flapjack with me.

The lesson galvanises itself as the days and weeks follow. As I return to life outside of the West Highland Way, I return to our financial challenges, to raising a teenage family, to sickness, and the car needing to be serviced, the dripping shower and an inexplicable loss of electricity to the house which means no wifi for days. These things all cost money, which adds to the financial challenges we face.

But I think to myself: “we’re not there yet, just keep going” … and so every day, despair turns to resolve, and to hope and faith in the fact that something will change. Wars break, interest rates rise, the economy flatlines…but we’re not there yet…keep going. NHS letters arrive, further investigations are needed. Just take the next right step. Friends fall sick, then terminally sick. Life feels gruelling, but all there is to do is take the next right step.

If I look too far ahead, I feel overwhelmed. But if I focus on the next step, life is manageable, and I make headway. I’m alive still, which is a miracle after two brushes with death over the past six years, and so I keep on keeping on. I keep stepping even though it’s slow going. Even though I want to give up sometimes.

As daylight fades on the gruelling path beside Loch Lomond, glimmers of light from my destination appear. I find a burst of energy and make it to the pub by the light of my torch. My arrival makes it all worth it. A roaring fire, and a whisky.

As I sit and restore my aching bones, tucking into macaroni cheese, surrounded by what might be the world’s worst taxidermy which simultaneously both horrifies and amuses me, it feels as though every single step was worth it.

A sense of accomplishment nourishes me. So, what happens when life is gruelling? Just take the next right step. Just keep taking the next right step. Because there will be glimmers along the way, and because pain can’t last forever. We’re not there yet, so let’s keep going.

Practice yoga with Lauren Bloxham online at, movement, mindfulness and meditation for slow movers and gentle souls. Join her on retreat: ‘The Wild Medicine’ at Bala Brook, Dartmoor National Park for a deep dive into ‘nature as mirror’ 16-19 May & 14-17 November 2024. Follow more words of wisdom on Instagram @blackdogliving

*commission earned from this link.

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.