Ever felt that you just had the wind knocked out of your sails, because things don’t go as planned? Perhaps you failed to meet your goals and dreams for 2019, in spite of consistently putting in the effort over the past twelve months. Or maybe, even worse, you have suffered the loss of a relationship, family member or a job. And you feel knocked down when many around you celebrate happily.
The question isn’t will life knock you down – because it will – but rather: how will you respond when it happens?
“Bravery is not found in getting knocked down. Rather, bravery is found is getting back up knowing that you’re going to get knocked down again.”
I understand you feel wounded, broken and bruised; defeated even. You’ve been struck down but not destroyed.
Whether you face rejection or you stumbled and made a mistake, even if undoable or unignorable, get up. Sometimes, the act of picking yourself up is the biggest life lesson you will learn. It’s a gift that you give yourself, teaching you more than success or education.
It’s not that you pretend it didn’t happen or even that you ignore something that feels inexcusable. No – you turn into that feeling. Accept the truth of where you currently lie in the mud and grime and find within you the strength and courage to overcome.
The school of hard knocks
I admit: I don’t like this school! It feels the worst place ever. And yet, it teaches you resilience like no other life experiences can give you. When you learn to bounce back after a defeat, you return with toughness and grit you didn’t have before. Rock bottom is a firm foundation on which to build your future.
The temptation is to stay down, forgetting that life continues.
But when you encounter an obstacle, how will you respond? Do you become a victim of circumstance, or will you make moves? It takes courage and effort to find out why you failed and learn from it.
The school of hard knocks is an opportunity to do better in the future. The lesson is not just to get back up – it’s to get up with new wisdom and knowledge. How can I improve my plan and strategy for the future?
Getting up after being knocked down
Why bother to get up with the superhuman effort that it takes? Because it’s impossible to defeat someone that refuses to stay down. Life’s highest achievers are not always the brightest or most talented. Often, the achievers are those that refused to quit.
One of my biggest motivations for getting up when life knocks me down, is I know that a six-year-old is watching me. How do I expect her to listen when I say “try again” if she watches me quit when the going gets tough?
Possibly, a more significant reason than this, even, is the unknown number of people that are watching you that you are not aware of. The people that you inspire every day. When you tell your story, how you fell and crawled back up, with the lessons learned from the fall and from the triumphs that came after, consider the impact?
By making a comeback, you have so many valuable life lessons for yourself and others that you would otherwise lose.
Steps for getting on your feet
I wish I could say it was easy like Sunday morning to stand up, but that would be a lie. There will be times you wait for the world you live in to get better. Know this: life sometimes worsens before it improves. Waiting for the real estate market or the job market to recover may be wise, or could be the worse mistake you could make. Perfect conditions never come. You will always find a reason or excuse to wait if you are looking for one.
So, ask yourself this:
Am I taking charge and choosing for myself?
Consider who calls the shots in your response. When you take action, you increase your self-confidence. You tell yourself you have control over part of the situation. There is something that you can do; all is not lost.
Recognise your perception and the story you tell yourself:
Who controls the narrative?
Do you focus solely on the problem or the opportunities that this situation presents? What assumptions have you made about the circumstances that you failed to question?
Go further, even, with your self-awareness: how am I feeling and how has this impacted my response? You might
- generalise – “everything is…”
- minimise – “nothing is…”
- exaggerate – “this is so…”
- catastrophise and awfulise.
Are you making mountains out of molehills? Or perhaps excusing yourself, rather than taking responsibility.
Have I faced my fears?
Many times, failure shines a light on all the things we fear. It shows us the boundary of our comfort zone, where we feel uncertain because life has become new and unknown. While it may be uncomfortable and out of your depth, what parts of the situation bother you the most?
What have I learned while knocked down?
Consider whether you need help or assistance. Who can you ask? Where do you learn new skills? And find out what additional information you need to feel confident.
Every life experience, whether tremendous or painful, comes with lessons. What is the particular lesson that this fall has for you? One of the most important questions you will ever ask yourself when you are fallen and feeling sorry for yourself is this:
If this happened for me, rather than to me, what opportunities and lessons am I overlooking?
So often we feel sorry for ourselves, rather than noticing how much stronger we are becoming! We ignore all the strengths forged through adversity.
Finally, remember forgiveness. I don’t think we forgive and let go enough. First, and foremost, forgive yourself. Stop looking so critically with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. Consider the lessons learned through 20/20 hindsight, but stop judging yourself harshly with that view. Life is too short for grudges and resentment. It eats you up inside. Makes you less resilient in the future.
Sometimes the way is through
It’s tempting to avoid the lesson. Our natural response is to avoid pain. We deny it, rather than move through it. But when we feel and acknowledge the pain, we give ourselves permission to release it and move on.
One way we avoid the lesson is to throw in the towel. Do you give up too soon? What thoughts dominate your mind at the time? Can you notice yourself losing courage? Do you fear failure, or do you fear success? Does imposter syndrome overcome you?
Perhaps, like me, you do well working on all the parts that I control, and then your doubts take over when you depend on other people’s reactions. Will they like it? How will they respond to me when they see this? Maybe I shouldn’t do this, because they won’t like me? What happens when what you are working on no longer depends on your efforts, but others? Can you hold up under that pressure?
Many times, this is the moment to take full responsibility. It takes enormous courage at this stage to keep going, rather than back down. Take ownership of your goals and dreams and lay aside all your excuses and blame. Can you get back up even when you fall in these conditions?
I struggle to know when to throw in the towel (there are moments when the right thing to do is quit) and when to get up and keep going.
Change the plan or redefine the goal?
It’s tempting, when you hit rock bottom, to throw in the towel. Know this: rock bottom is a safe place to evaluate your options and refine your plans and goals. You will probably have time on your hands. Your mood is reflective.
Often, when we are knocked down, we change the target. We aim for something more comfortable or something more exciting. A new shiny object that isn’t as hard to reach.
What is often needed is a change of plans. We accept “it can’t be done”, rather than recognising “it can’t be done the way I was trying to do it”.
Just because you had plans, goals and dreams for 2019 that failed to materialise, does this mean that for 2020 you should radically change your goals? Should your vision and goals for 2020 be a realistic vision of achieving what you have already worked so hard to accomplish?
Look carefully at your plans for 2019 – were they realistic? What did you overlook? How can you update your action plan with what you now know? Did you 2019 plan include not only your plan and strategy but address your purpose?
Using compassion, creativity & courage to lead you to success
After I’ve been knocked down, I often want to stay in my head, rather than allowing myself to feel my emotions. But for longterm success, the most courageous choice I can make is to allow my heart to lead, even when there is grief. Your heart is able to show much more compassion than you could ever imagine.
If you allow that compassion to grow – to encompass all that you are and your relationships – you will find you have much more creativity and focus for coming up with solutions than you imagined possible. Your mind is a brilliant storyteller. Will you allow compassion to control that narrative and tell you how much love there is for yourself in spite of being knocked down?
Allow that very same compassion to flood your gut, creating an environment where you can sense what you need for safety and security. And from a place of inner alignment, where you can listen to the inner whispers of wisdom, find the courage to stand up once more.
It’s only when we find this place of inner peace, that comes from listening quietly to what we want, feel and need, that we can create the life that allows us to get up any time we are knocked down. That inner wisdom knows whether we need to update the plan or throw in the towel and realign with our purpose. It’s from that place that we find the strength and courage we never knew we had within us, and the result is amazing growth that leads us to external success.