Sunday, May 4, 2014

Get Back Up On It! Inspiration From the Ground for When You’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up

“And falling's just another way to fly.” 
~ Emilie Autumn

So there I was—head down, rump up—in a most compromising position, caught somewhere between an awkward downward facing dog pose and a mountain climber maneuver; clad in a tailored pencil skirt, high heels and a suit jacket.  I could neither stand nor fall without putting my silk-stockinged legs in jeopardy.   And there was my quandary—should I wait for someone to come along and stand me upright or finish my fall?  Who knew how long I would be waiting for help.  So I fell, all the way down, just as Ms. Something-or-Other from the boutique next door came running out with an offer of new hosiery if I would step inside her shop.  Of course I would, if I could, but I had to get up first.  She was zero help.  Instead, she hovered and narrated the situation with comments like, “Oh dear.  Your knee is bleeding.” And “My goodness, you’ve ruined your hose!”  And my personal favorite, “Don’t tear that gorgeous suit!”  As if I had done any of this on purpose. 

Eventually I got up, nursed my wounds, bought new stockings and rushed to meet my client.  But time stood still for me there on the ground.  I thought my embarrassment would never end.  Yet it did, and I moved on to have other equally embarrassing and low moments alongside the great ones.

Whether you’ve lost your job, your lover or you’ve hit rock bottom financially—if you’ve fallen and can’t get up—follow these six steps to get back up on it.

1.              Relax into your fall.  So often when we find ourselves falling we do that little jog-hop-skip-thing to try to break our fall or give the appearance that we’re not falling; that we meant to do that weird move when just moments before we were walking on sure feet.  But as one who’s had a fair share of falls, I have found that sometimes it’s easier not to fight it. If you’re going down and you know it—even if you’re already on the ground—one of the worst things we can do is deny our experience or try to hide it.  Fall gracefully.

2.              Get a new perspective.  As a kid I loved to hang upside down—from chairs or trees or my bed—to read books, watch T.V., eat dinner, anything I could get away with.  When mom asked why it was so important that I hang upside down my answer was simple:  things look different that way.  It’s true.  When life as you know it gets turned upside down, look for that life enhancing perspective that will move you from tragedy and sadness to strength and possibility.  As Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. 

3.              Disconnect from the opinion of others.  One of the biggest obstacles to moving forward when we’ve suffered a fall is judging ourselves as we assume others must be judging us, or as we might unfairly judge them if the tables were turned.  But running that tired dialogue over and over again is a sure way to remain stuck and miss key moments of inspiration that come when we’re open and vulnerable to possibility.  People aren’t sitting around thinking about your fall; more likely, they’re thinking about themselves because that’s what people do.  Even if they do focus on your misfortune, they won’t for long.  Soon, they’ll be on to the next thing even as you’re wiping the blood from your knees. 

4.              Don’t expect someone to save you.  Whatever you do, don’t sit around waiting for someone to save you.  It’s magical thinking that rarely delivers.  Like hiker Aaron Ralston who cut off his arm to free himself from the large boulder that had him trapped in a slot canyon—had he waited for someone to come along and find him his story would have been very different.  Sometimes it’s true that we can only get up with the help of others.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, but remember:  even those closest to us can’t or won’t be able to help us the way we need to be helped.  Be your own best problem solver.

5.              Avoid the Hole.  Columnist Molly Ivin once said, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”  Good advice, indeed.  But wouldn’t it be easier to develop our sense of foresight and avoid the hole altogether?  Look for the traps and pitfalls that brought you to your knees.  Make it your mission to understand why you missed what you missed.  Not an easy skill but one that will serve you well as you move forward. 

6.              Just breathe.   Not so long ago as I struggled to pick myself up from a series of difficult decisions that had changed my life in unexpected ways, my breathing felt labored and difficult almost every day.  Then I realized I had been holding my breath!  When you’re thrown off balance by the circumstances of your life, get back to the basics.  

Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E.

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