(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Have you ever had a behavior you knew wasn’t good for you and you wanted to stop it? And you tried to quit? And you did … for a while? Welcome to the world of normal. We get a lot of messages to simply quit doing unuseful things, but it rarely works permanently. Why might that be so?

First, it’s because whatever it is that you’re doing is delivering some perceived benefit to you and to quit it is to lose that benefit. Loss is painful. We don’t like to lose.

Another reason is that quitting is usually only an external behavior change and, since all permanent change is internal, we tend to revert to the old behavior. Why? See the first point.

Quitting a behavior has a push-against, make-wrong quality to it. Letting go is a very different matter.

When you choose to let go of a behavior (okay, that’s the first thing letting go has going for it – you’re at choice) you are deciding that the cost exceeds the benefit.

As a teenager, I used to chew my fingernails. An early professional mentor informed me that I was creating a barrier to promotion because future bosses would believe I lacked self-control (true, I do, but that’s another topic!). My mentor’s re-frame of my habit set the stage for immediate and lifelong release of the imagined benefits of nail-biting.

Letting go is easy, reward based. Quitting is hard and loss based.


Coaching Point: What is important for you to let go of right now?


Copyright 2016 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.