3 Steps for Getting Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

By Matt Richards | Tiny Buddha

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” ~Vince Lombardi

I guess I’ve always been a creative soul. Even as a young lad of four or five I had teachers taking my drawings of cartoon characters home to show their families.

Over the next twenty years I aspired to be a Ghostbuster, The Karate Kid, and then (when it turned out there wasn’t much call for eight-year-old ghost hunters and no suitable Mr Miyagi characters around) a writer, and finally a guitarist, all with varying degrees of success.

So it’s safe to say I’ve always had big dreams. For a long time, these dreams were enough to sustain me. I had purpose and that was great. Yet over time, after years of almost (but not quite) getting there, the added heartache of disappointment began to knock me down a little.

You see, the problem was that while I was dreaming big, I was also living under a habit of self-sabotage, of giving up too soon.

For a long time it was a similar tale: I’d have a vision set out for myself—making music, writing a book. And I’d immerse myself for months, even years, practicing, studying, trying to become the absolute best at it. Yet, when it came time to launch my creation to the wider world I lost all my courage.

I realize now this came down to a culmination of fear of failure, imposter syndrome, my ego being too connected to the results, and probably some plain old impatience.

You see, it was fun for me when I was in control, when I was at the creation-planning-strategizing stage, but once other people’s opinions were involved I became too afraid to push myself. I became very good at focusing on worst case scenarios, which then stopped me from really putting myself out there.

If this is sounding familiar to you, that’s because unfortunately, it’s familiar for a lot of us.

For many years I was in a vicious cycle of total self-belief leading to blinkered hope leading to crushing self-doubt. I was existing under stories and limiting beliefs that no longer served me, yet at the time I couldn’t see them and it took a long time before I was able to break free.

This phase of my life finally culminated for me when, after six years of struggle, of highs and lows and pyrrhic victories, the rock band I’d written and played guitar in came crashing to an end in a flurry of disagreements.

I was devastated. The one thing that I’d put my heart and soul into for so long and now it was over. All the hopes and expectations I’d had for my life were dashed in an instant.

Now, I appreciate that we’ve all suffered similar experiences and most, I imagine, have been worse than what I describe here. I’m aware that the demise of a rock ‘n’ roll band is not on the same plane as a long-term relationship ending or the death of a loved one (both of which I’ve experienced). But also, things can become microcosmic very easily, and for me, at this stage in my life, I had lost everything.

I’d been committed to making music at the detriment of relationships, vacations, and a proper career path. Now here I was, pretty much down and out with nothing to show for it but a few thousand copies of our last single in my parents’ roof space. (I think they’re still there.)

For the first time in years I felt lost. I’d thrown everything I had into the last six years, emotionally and physically, and I had no plan B.

I suddenly felt stuck and completely overwhelmed by doubt. I spent hours wondering where it had all gone wrong. Was it my fault? Had I done enough? Had I done too much? Why did it always happen this way?

As we all know, though, navel-gazing only gets us so far, and thankfully, after months of self-analysis, I had an epiphany.

I suddenly realized that I was the only one who could change how I reacted to this situation and move myself forward. At once I profoundly understood that if I just shifted my mindset a little I had so many more choices than I initially thought.

And this is the amazing thing. We all have these choices. In every moment. We all have the control to change how we feel about any given situation.

I finally understood that only I could get over these recurring patterns of behavior and move forward in life. I made the decision that day to change my outlook and I’ve never looked back.

As I explored these ideas I discovered three important steps that, when followed, can go a long way in getting you back on track. These are small shifts in mindset but with a powerful long-range scope for your success and happiness:

1. Hold yourself accountable.

The thing was, I never had up until then. You see, I used to be an expert at blame. I blamed other people (a lot), myself (mainly), and the world (usually). I used to wonder why things weren’t happening for me the way I wanted them to. But then I never really did anything about it.

That day I suddenly understood that I alone was the only person who could make my life better. Me. Only me.

I held myself fully accountable for maybe the first time ever, and at that moment I became not just empowered but free. Because I was now in control of my life fully and completely. I realized that up until then I’d been making excuses for what had or hadn’t happened without taking responsibility.

I think we’re all in danger of this too. We find it easy to blame everything else for our problems without looking inward at what negative beliefs or habits are really to blame. In fact, most of us create excuses out of nothing. As a species we’re very good at it.

But imagine if we were to put the same amount of effort for excuse-making into service? Determination? Enthusiasm?

I’m sure we can all come up with a plethora of excuses to fall back on as to why we don’t do something, but that is not the path to happiness.

Imagine how different life would life be if you were always conscious of those times when you were making excuses. Relationship didn’t work out? It’s your responsibility. Not doing the job you want? Well, it’s your responsibility. Feeling unhealthy and tired? You guessed it, it’s your responsibility.

Don’t judge yourself, yet simply ask what you could have done to get different results. Hold yourself accountable and take action on what you’ve learned.

Taking responsibility means you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open in the world. If amazing stuff is happening, you played a role. If tough stuff is happening, you played a role. This way you too can reframe your experiences and take back the ownership of your life.

2. Move your focus.

I also recognized that I’d fallen into a nasty habit of focusing on the obstacles in every situation rather than the opportunities. I’d been looking behind me at what had happened rather than looking in front of me at what could happen.

When I realized that, everything changed.


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