Starting over: How many chances do you get?
Ok. Your life just tanked. Again. Let’s all give a big sigh and shed a few tears for its loss. (I’m not being facetious or sarcastic, I mean that.)
There needs to be a grief period for any loss or we never completely let it go. I was at an event this weekend where the facilitator mentioned that he used to be a camp counselor and the first thing they would do for the kids was to have a full blown funeral for “CAN’T”. They’d put in in a box, and do a New Orleans style funeral walk to a certain area and actually bury the box and say goodbye. Fun idea, huh?
So, do take a little time to mourn what was lost and then take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders and get ready to take flight again.
The question in the post is, “How many chances do you get to start over?” I’m glad you asked. I’ll answer that in a minute. The bigger question here for me and for you, is how many chances do you want?
Starting over is hard. I’m not going to lie to you. It isn’t an easy process; it’s one that takes patience and kindness (with yourself most of all). I’m here to tell you, however, it can be done.
Falling On Your Face Is One Way To Know Which End Is Up
When we were young and learning to walk, figuring out how to make those leg things work the way we wanted them to was always a challenge. The first thing we had to do was adjust to using them a different way. Once that part was more or less stable, we had to get used to the new altitude and changes in the way everything looked. No longer were our fields of view limited to ankles and the bottom side of the coffee table. Now we were up above the edge and entranced by all the things on top of it. We reached for something that caught our attention, and had to let go the desperate grasp we had on the edge of the couch for support and, wouldn’t you know it, down we’d go, plop on our bottoms since we were still working on that elusive standing without help thing. At first the sudden change in position scared us and made us cry, but when we figured out it wouldn’t kill us, we tried it again and again till we got it right.
As adults, there’s still a lot of that same thing going on. The process is basically the same only metaphoric this time. We’re not trying to find our physical legs, we’re trying to find our daily legs. It’s a well-known fact that we tend to chase new ideas and concepts and have all the focus of someone with severe ADD. Just about the time we think we’re focusing all our energies on the pursuit of our chosen path, a bunny rabbit bounces across it and we just have to see where it goes. So, we let go of our support to chase it and wind up sitting down surprisingly fast and hard.
The difference is in how we react to perceived failure. When some people talk about losing everything, “everything” is very subjective. Especially lately, I’ve heard executives talking about having lost everything and meaning they’ve lost their job, and only have a couple of million in the bank. When I talk about losing it all, I mean ALL OF IT; home, job, health, family, every last bit till all you have is what you were born with (and if you’re lucky, the clothes on your back.) I’ve lost everything four times in my life and none of those times were through my own efforts. Sh — tuff happens.
The first thing you experience is shock and sadness. You just can’t believe your life as you planned it is not going to happen. You have no foreseeable future, no options and no support. Or so you think. But you need to sit with the grief and the raw emotion that happens if you want to overcome it. Be with it and experience it all. Then, let it go.
The next phase is assessing and reassessing what you do have to work with. Take inventory of what is at hand (no matter how little there is). In counting your blessings, you begin to see a glimmer of light. The last time I lost it all, my total physical assets were the clothes on my back, my driver’s license, a toothbrush, a candy bar, 37 pennies and a pen. That was all, but it was enough because I also had my experience, my knowledge, my innate strengths and skills. AND, I had rebuilt my life before, I could do it again.
The third phase is to make a plan using what you have. Figure out the immediate needs – shelter, food, hygiene – and start seeking a way to meet those needs on a basic level. Once those are handled, you have the space to work on the bigger plan. Take it a step at a time and you’ll make it.
And now, to answer the original question, you get as many chances to start over as you want! What’s passed is past and there’s no way to bring it back. Let it go. Learn from the experience and move on. The future is there to be as you will it, full of opportunity and possibility. All you really have that is in your control is NOW. This moment, this nanosecond, this present. You invented the the meanings behind the stories of your life so far, you can invent new ones any moment of any time in the now. Shake off that meaning maker. Disconnect the oughta-pilots in your brain and take the first step across the threshold. If you need a hand to hold, I’m here. Let me support your journey.