Knocked Down? This Way Up!
I suppose there are some people out there who never have any challenges beyond the tragedy of a facial zit. But I think they’re about as rare as a unicorn. For the rest of us, which is basically everyone, we take our share of falls. Yes, some seem to get more than their share of pretty awful things happening to them. More than anything else, there is one key difference that I’ve noticed in people’s response to the crap that comes their way. It’s how quickly they choose to get up again.
Having been in the pits of life myself more times than I care to remember, I have plenty of empathy with those who are down. Relationships, financial disaster, health, whatever – once the initial punch to the gut is landed, we all need some time to catch our breath. We need to assess what happened and get our bearings again. While some people seem to need less time than others, there’s the critical moment when it’s time to take the next step. It’s time to get up.
That said, sometimes the challenges come in rapid fire, and while you may snap back faster from the earlier falls, it gets ever more difficult to tell yourself to get up again. The best you can do is hold to a kind of numbness that makes at least surviving each day tolerable. This is an especially horrible place to be. It’s easy to lose hope, and lose connection to the people and dreams you held dear.
Whether life has landed a single punch or delivered the drubbing of your life, there’s going to be a defining moment when you realize you’re at choice. In the worst of times, the voice that’s calling you to get up may be faint, but it will be there. You will always have a choice. The question is, what are your choices?
The Moment of Choice
There’s always the choice to just give up. Sounds easy, almost like a reward for the pain you’ve been through. But like each and every choice in life, there is a price. I don’t have to paint a picture of those who have given up. You’ve seen them. I make no judgement of them, I simply notice that they have given up. They have also given up all control of their life and their future. And I can assure you that, unless they make new and better choices, not one of them will ever have a life you or I would want to embrace.
The other choice is to take actions, small or big, to begin rebuilding. If you’ve lost a relationship, read helpful books and talk to friends and family to work through it. If you’ve taken a big financial hit, re-group and remember that you started from zero once (or more!) and can do it again. If there’s a health challenge, look to the examples of those who have turned those around before you.
No matter what the cause of the crap in your life, there’s going to be a recovery time. If you’ve gotten really down, emotionally, it will require some patience, with yourself, to build up resilience and strength again. But the skies will begin to clear, and you can be confident that things will improve soon enough. If you’re tempted to dwell on notions of failure, take a look at this advice by Samara Zimmerman.
I’ve found inspiration and renewed determination in myself by reading the stories of others who have fallen multiple times, or who have overcome odds to prosper in all areas of their lives. You can find lots of them out there, and most recently I read Get Back Up by George Santino. Written in the first person, it makes it easy to step back and re-focus on the gratitude for all the good things in life. It’s a great read, and I recommend it.
It’s also important to surround yourself with positive reminders. These can be of your own making, or some of those that resonate with you that you can find online. Print them up and post them on your refrigerator and your bathroom mirror. Put an image of them in your smartphone. And when those moments of weakness or doubt pop up, let them be your everywhere personal motivational coach.