Never say die when things get tough | Lisa Steingold

Never Say Die When Things Get Tough

Have you ever felt like giving up? Like no matter how hard you try, life just keeps knocking you down? We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a personal struggle, a professional setback, or a global crisis, it’s easy to lose hope in the face of adversity. 

The phrase never say die popped into my head the other morning as I was out walking my mom’s dog Tom thinking about my number 1 piece of life advice. PS this is Tom.

Lisa's dog Tom

I was thinking about it because I was thinking of my personal struggles and of the struggles of people in general. I was wondering what would my number 1 piece of life advice be for someone going through a tough time.

Never say die; this simple motto has been used for centuries to inspire perseverance, resilience, and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It’s not my phrase. The origin of the phrase is not entirely clear and Google didn’t create any clarity, but it is believed to have originated in the 1700s.

To be human is to dream and therefore also to suffer

There have also been times in my life where I’ve been tested; lack of work, lack of health etc. There are also events and experiences I’ve wanted that have not (yet) come to pass. Dreams I’ve held in my heart for decades. 

If you have a dream in your heart, it’s there for a reason. Your job is to figure out if it’s a real dream or just an ego trip and secondly the small or grand steps you need to take to get there.

Let me give you a silly but demonstrative example;

Ever since I went for a drive in a Ferrari in 2019, I dreamt of having one! In fact it’s exactly 4 years to the day exactly that I experienced the magic that is Ferrari first hand. 

So I wanted one but then it occurred to me that apart from the fact that I don’t have that kind of cash, I wouldn’t have anywhere to park it, the roads where I live are not conducive to Ferrari’s and besides, where would I put my bicycle?

So it was an ego dream. Sometimes it’s great to be able to realize what is fantasy and what really is a heartfelt dream.

But you know what I love speed! I love the magic of the brand that is Ferrari so now I have a new and more real dream, to go to a Formula1 race at one point in my life. 

That I feel is a true and beautiful dream. And the steps that I need to take are to save for that magical day.

This is a simple example. 

Sometimes things are a little more challenging. For example a friend of mine held a life long dream to open a bakery. She dreamt of being able to bake and deliver magic to passers by. And she did just that; she opened the bakery. 

But 9 months later she had to close because she just wasn’t making enough to sustain the business. It wasn’t her fault. She’d been promised by several businesses that when she opened, they’d buy from her and then they didn’t. 

This wasn’t some ego trip she’d had. She’d had the dream for decades and had put in the hard yards to bring it to life but it didn’t turn out as hoped.

Whether it’s a relationship or a job or a business, I’m sure you can relate.

I’ve lost the dream of a business and relationships. It can be truly heartbreaking to lose a dream.

Life lessons are painful

I don’t believe our souls get taught life lessons but I do believe that we learn though our mistakes and sometimes are forced to examine painful circumstances. 

The other day I was reflecting on some of my most pivotal moments of heartbreak and failures.

Some of the failures were my ‘fault’ either as a result of deep self sabotage or just plain stupidity. 

What can I do about that now? One of two things; I can blame myself for being a shit human and go nowhere or I can look at what happened and learn.

In the case of deep self sabotage, I often wasn’t aware of it at the time. And in the case of stupidity or ignorance, well there were things to learn that I hope to never repeat again.

You’re not dead yet, take just one step

Whatever has happened has passed. It’s in the past. Your opportunity lies in today and going forward.

Wherever your life may be, you’re not dead yet. And if your heart is still beating, be it just for this day, you have life left in you yet and you’re here for a purpose!

Just for today, what is the one thing you can do either to feel better (and no I’m NOT talking about a bottle of wine) or what can you do to take 1 step forward to a dream or a situation that you want to improve? 

Just 1 step.

We often don’t take ‘that’ step because we feel bad or ashamed of ourselves. For example not exercising because you feel ashamed of your body when exercising would make you feel better about yourself.

Or not asking for help (which is quite a massive step forward even though it may not seem that way) because we’re ashamed of our situation.

Sometimes we don’t take the next step because we’re too busy focusing on the grandness and seeming impossibility of the situation. We get stuck in feeling overwhelmed. 

But actually taking the next step is often just a matter of showing up for something. Showing up for a conversation. Showing up for a workout. Showing up for another potential dose of rejection even though you feel like you’ve gone through twelve rounds with Muhammed Ali.

Here are some examples of ‘the next step’;

  • Seeking out help in the form of an expert, therapist or friend
  • New job? Formatting your CV or investigating new opportunities (yes even if it’s been a year or more of job hunting)
  • Weight loss? Exercising or drinking water (not to lose weight but simply to give you more energy and leave you feeling better about yourself
  • Health? This is a wide topic and so there could be numerous next steps. Having suffered chronic pain from arthritis I can say that a next step could be simply to complete a normal task to seeking out alternative therapies to doing research. Sometimes the next step is chemo. Sometimes it is.
  • Relationship stuff? Talk to your partner, talk to a therapist, if you’re single and want a parter your next step could simply be writing out a list of the values you want your partner to have or signing up to a dating app.
  • Feeling depressed or energyless? Seek out help, or sign up for a course or simply practice a basic meditation on self forgiveness
  • Starting a business? Write out a business plan, investigate your target market, interview your prospective customers…

The point I’m trying to make is that there is always a step. Even if that step is resting so that you come back tomorrow to try it all again.

If it’s a nightmare, it can be turned into a dream

When they say you’re going through hell, keep going. But what I think is that if you currently find yourself starring in a nightmare, it can be turned into a dream.

Nightmares are there to show us 1) what we’re afraid of and 2) what we don’t want, which in it’s own special way is a way of showing us what we do want.

What’s happening in your life? Health challenges? Financial challenges? Relationship challenges?

These challenges are here to show you what you’re afraid of, and what it is you really want.

And guess what? It’s ok to be afraid, in fact it’s pretty normal.

And as for showing you what you really want? Sometimes we go through years in a particular experience to realize that actually we want something different. And the only way we know that is because we’ve been shown what we don’t want.

What is this showing you?

What is this experience showing you?

When your deepest fears come to life, they are sometimes showing you your beliefs.

I’m too old.

The world is ending.

I’m useless.

I’m a failure.

I can’t have what I want.

And so on.

Okay, so what Lisa? What do I do with this?

Nothing. Yup nothing. 

“Awareness is the first step” as the proverbial phrase goes. Except it isn’t. It isn’t just the first step, it’s the liberating step.

Most of us keep repeating what we know unconsciously because it’s what we know but the thing is that at any stage, things can change. 

We believe that things can change for the worse because that exact experience happened to us on a global level during Covid.

But things can also change for the better.

The greatest obstacle

When we repeatedly face a challenge that we are unable to overcome, fear and self doubt seep in. 

Self-doubt is the voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough or capable enough to succeed. Fear and self doubt will try to convince you that you’ve failed and that you’re nothing but a failure. It can be particularly insidious because it can be hard to recognize and overcome.

It isn’t true.

When this happens, take 5 minutes out, ideally in the sun or in an environment you love with a journal. Write down your thoughts and then reflect to ask yourself if it’s really true.

The fact is that you haven’t failed because the very fact that you’re here, reading this article, means that you’ve survived 100% of your bad days! 

3 practices to live “Never say Die”

My whole point is to tell you that no matter what’s happening right now, things can be different. And yes, that includes work, weight, wealth and relationships.

This isn’t a lesson in pop psychology. To the contrary this is about getting real. 


  1. Feel the pain – if you’re going through something difficult, own it. Feel the pain of the situation. What you resists persists so you may as well embrace the feelings that are happening inside.
  2. Acknowledge you want something different (and write it down)
  3. Take that step! What’s your next step? Even resting can be a step. 
  4. Reflect. Is this a dream you still really want? What’s changed? Do you need to take a different step?
  5. Repeat

Sometimes it’s a matter of repeating these three steps once and sometimes it’s a million times over. 

You’re building resilience. 

Some of my favorite examples of resilience include David Goggins whose story I’ve spoken of before, Faranak Partoazar the Iranian cyclist who I’ve featured on my podcast and Jesse Clegg whose father (the world-renowned Johnny Clegg) and wife both passed away from cancer yet his presence shines brightly as you can hear for yourself! 

It ain’t over yet!

Never say die is more than just a catchy phrase. It’s a practice.

It’s a mindset that can help us overcome adversity, push past our limits, and achieve our goals. Whether we’re facing fear, self-doubt, failure, or any other obstacle, we have the power to change our response and keep moving forward.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, resilience is not a trait that people are born with – it can be learned and developed over time. This means that no matter where you are in your journey, you have the capacity to cultivate resilience and overcome adversity.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone in the same circumstance. Yes, some people lose their job and have two new offers lined up in minutes. Other people start a successful business from the get go. Other people are challenged over and over again in every aspect of their lives. I’m not going to end this piece with some story of a person who faced all the odds and overcame them because you don’t need that. 

What you need is to remember that you made it this far and that no matter what, you’ve got this!

I repeat, you’ve got this. Keep going and Never Say Die!

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