Are you Tripped Up?
Hey, everyone! I am back with a not so traditional contribution this month. If you have read my articles, you know that I try to approach things from a positive place, sharing tips and tools I use in my own life to help you live your best life. Using my training as a Life Coach and my perspective from personal experience, I aim to spur you on toward your own success, just as I hope to spur toward my own successes as well. But, you know what? I am only human… and sometimes I fail, too.
Every summer, my daughter spends about a month in Washington with her dad’s side of the family. Each year when she leaves, I have some grandiose idea of some gigantic change I am going to make in my life. Apparently, I have not learned enough from my past failures in this arena and this year not only did I have one grandiose goal, I had many sort-of grandiose goals, totally separate from the big gigantic number one goal. You see, for the first time in a long time, I am at a very stable place in my life.
At this time last year, I was unemployed, living in a rental house that was much neglected by its previous tenants, and I was still grieving a divorce that was not yet final. But, this year? Ah, this year how things have changed! I am gainfully employed with more opportunities than I know what to do with, I am living in a cute little townhouse that I co-own (and it does NOT show any neglect), and after many months of self-reflection and counseling, I feel like a new person after my divorce. So, I can take on the world? Right?
Wrong. So, so wrong.
During the weeks in which my daughter was gone, I had “all the time in the world” to focus on myself. Theoretically, I had no distractions and no one to take care of but myself. So, I was surprised when it seemed the harder I tried to make positive changes, the harder I fell down- and we’re not talking the graceful kind of fall where you manage not to spill your coffee or drop your purse. Oh no. We’re talking the take-three-steps-and-fall-flat-on-your-face-in-a-crowded- room kind of fall.
Did you see it? That was me- falling over and over and over again. Some might even say the most important thing is that I got back up, but I disagree. What is the good in getting back up if we make the same mistakes all over again? No, we can’t just get up and go full-steam ahead. We have got to take a minute to gather ourselves and regroup. This is the step I was missing; the regrouping step.
When we fall down- literally fall, the instinct is to jump up as fast as we can and act like nothing happened. We think if we keep walking, maybe no one will notice that we just fell. When the truth is, we fell down. It hurt. We may be bruised and not just our ego… if we continue on like nothing happened, we could cause the injury to become worse. If we can swallow our pride long enough to take a deep breath and shake ourselves off, we give ourselves the chance to assess the situation. Are there any broken bones? Am I bleeding? And for me, the most important question: what tripped me up? Until we are able to see what it is what made us trip in the first place, we are bound to trip over the same thing again and again.
Here is what I do when I fall (and trust me, I have had a lot of practice formulating and using these steps):
1) Take a minute and breathe. Try not to do like I have done in the past and flip out. It is hard, is it not when we want something so bad and then we fall short? Often times the knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and scream, or cry in disappointment. Go ahead and let yourself feel those feelings, but do not let the feelings overtake you. When I fall hard, I will let the emotions consume me for anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes, depending on how hard the fall. After that amount of time, I gather myself and take the biggest, deepest breath I can muster. Almost immediately, calm starts to replace the feelings of inadequacy or loss. I am not saying everything will be fixed with one deep breath, but that one deep breath could make a big difference in the way you take your next step.
2) Take the time to figure out what tripped you. Was it the size of a pebble, perhaps something as simple as lack of sleep? Or was it big like a boulder such as a bad habit that overtook you? Or a friend who’s not the best influence in your life? Once you identify what caused you to fall, you can begin to take steps to keep it from tripping you again.
3) After you’ve figured out what tripped you, remove it. This is not always as easy as picking up the rock you tripped on and tossing it out of your path. Sometimes, removing the things that trip us up is a process that involves creating new patterns and breaking old habits. As with any change you attempt to make in your life, enlist some support. Vent to a good friend and have someone to help encourage you and hold you accountable. Change can be difficult, and the more supported you feel, the easier the change will be.
4) Learn to laugh at yourself. I once tripped and went flying into the pavement in a parking lot after a meeting with my ex-husband. I laid there, all sprawled out stunned for a minute, and then I laughed. I laugh now as I retell it. It is a fact of life: you are going to fall. You will not reach all your goals on the first try. So, try not to take life so seriously- learn to let go a little. You will be amazed at just how much freedom this will give you.
Tripping is a part of life. When you trip and fall, get up! But, remember: getting back up is only the first step. Take a breath, shake yourself off and kick that stone out of your way! You will be on a smoother path before you know it.