It’s hard to imagine when you are at your lowest point, how to get back on your feet. I did it though and I hope my experience can help you too.
I fell on my ass big time a few years ago. Suddenly, I went from having a big house, a great job, and a husband to having an unsettled, somewhat nomadic life minus the job, house, and husband. If you feel like you need to get back on your feet, my experience may help you.
I’ll admit, most people don’t choose to take as drastic a route as I did after my divorce. Lots of people stay in their home, in their town, and in their job. In hind site, that makes GREAT sense! Many times I’ve wished that I had even thought of doing that. It seems incredible to me, that it never even crossed my mind to stay put.
Nope, I packed up and moved to a huge city for a fresh start.
Hitting My Low Point
However, instead of adventure, it was mostly lonely and depressing. There were happy moments of course! I have three wonderful adult children and two grand-daughters and I had many special moments with them.
Still, most days I felt more alone and unsure of myself than I ever have. It seemed like I just made one mistake after another. Within two years, I moved four times. I had one home broken into and all my electronics stolen and in another home, there was a black mold outbreak and I got sick and had to move.
My life was not feeling very BIG. At one point, I felt like I had hit rock bottom and I didn’t know what to do.
Yet, there was still a part of me that believed in me. I believed that somehow, some way I was going to have the life that I wanted. Even though, I wasn’t even sure what that would look like, I knew it was going to look WAY better than what I had right then.
How I Began to Get Back on my Feet
I began my experiment in incremental movement to get my life on some kind of track. Gratitude, forgiveness, and walking were the bedrocks of my life. When everything seemed to tough, I would fall back on those. Over and over again.
Somehow, in year three, a new life began to take shape
This past weekend, as I was still laying in bed, gradually waking up, I realized a few things.
- My body feels strong and healthy.
- I have forged new relationships and made old ones stronger.
- After this latest move, I finally feel “at home.” I’m happy where I am.
- Through my job, I feel productive and valuable. I am doing tangible good in the world.
- I am engaged in life and eager to see what happens next.
- The anticipation about the upcoming events and projects makes me happy.
In my old life, I was looking forward to winding down, retirement, that kind of thing. Before the divorce, I had already given my notice to my employer.
In my new life, I have started my own business and have a new job. I still love to walk but I have added new hobbies such as riding a bike, going to music festivals, hiking, and travel. I have met people in the last year that I can’t imagine not having them in my life. Best of all, I have the feeling of being home.
Somehow, I got back on my feet.
Like I said earlier, I kept going back to three things: forgiveness, gratitude, and walking. Along side of those I took consistent small actions almost every day to move me in the direction of having some kind of meaning and purpose in my life. I learned to hear, write about, and follow the wisdom I had accrued from all my experience.
When I started to really think about it, it boiled down to five things that I really concentrated on.
Here are my 5 tips to get back on your feet
It all starts here. We all hold on to so many traumatic experiences. We hold onto hurt and anger against others and against ourselves. These don’t have to be big things either. Sometimes they are small or even something you don’t think worth the effort of forgiving.
Forgive anyway. Forgive anyone and anything you can. Be willing to forgive. That’s the most important part. When you have the willingness to forgive, the forgiveness and benefits will follow.
It can be as simple as saying in your mind: I forgive you. I’m sorry. Thank you. I love you. If you want a little more, this post on forgiveness has a guided meditation you can use.
I believe that by forgiving, we release a lot of negative energy. We allow space for healing and love to enter our lives. It allows us to break the bonds of people and situations that are holding us back. If you’ve never tried systematically forgiving, then I encourage you to try. Do it daily for a month and see how your life changes.
Practicing gratitude comes somewhat naturally to me. My mom has always demonstrated a gratitude-filled life. Yet, at times it is easy to overlook doing this in a consistent way. Like forgiveness, I found that being mindful and systematic about my gratitude, gave me the best results. I wrote about my practice here.
Nothing takes the place of walking in my life for creating a feeling of wellbeing. I like other kinds of exercise but I LOVE walking. It is the ultimate form of self-care. It’s how I stay in shape, how I keep my creative flow going, and how I process life’s events.
Plus, walking is such a literal metaphor for forward movement—each step moves you onward. It not only helps you get or stay in shape, it is forward movement and as such is very powerful.
Walking makes the most positive impact done almost daily. When I’m walking 5 or 6 times a week, I love it! I consider myself an “earth” personality. I love feeling grounded and walking helps me do that.
Small Actions Done Daily
To accomplish anything, you have to actually start it. Sometimes the thought of starting something is so daunting that we put it off, sometimes forever. It’s really sad, how many things most of us don’t accomplish because we don’t get started on something.
To get around this, I began doing things in tiny little amounts of time. When I decided to write my blog, it was difficult to make myself write at times. Yet, I found if I set a timer for 15 minutes, I could usually peck away at a piece for that amount of time. This allowed me to complete post after post, week after week, until I could do it without the timer.
Occasionally, when I feel stuck now, I still use that method. I write about my experience with getting unstuck here.
My To-Do Book
My To-Do book isn’t a fancy planner or anything like that, I use an ordinary 99 cent composition books that I buy after school starts when they go on sale.
Every day, I write the day at the top of the page and write down every single thing I feel like I want to get done that day. Even if I’m not sure I can get it down, I like to go ahead and list it so I won’t forget about it.
What I’ve discovered, is that once something gets into the book—it gets done. When I’m faithful about writing things down and doing those things, movement really begins to happen. Sometimes, I ignore my book for a few days and things slow down.
I write EVERYTHING down that I want to get done–big or small. Sometimes, I’ll break tasks up into smaller chunks.
Most only take a few minutes to do and It gives me peace of mind and experience has shown this to be the most effective way for me to create movement in my life.
In addition to good intentions, goals require action to create momentum. I love the feeling of being able to cross everything off my list and feeling that sense of accomplishment. In addition, it really helps me get projects done.
Getting back on your Feet
See, those five steps are nothing difficult and I easily incorporated them into my life over a period of months. I’m not saying it’s the quickest way to make changes—but life isn’t a race. In my experience, sustainable practices always yield the best results.
Remember, all of us at some time or another have lost our balance and fallen. Some of us stay longer than others. Maybe we need a longer rest?
Yet, falling on our ass, is not the end of the world, though it is perhaps the end of a life as we’ve known it. That’s not always a bad thing either. If you’ve fallen, perhaps there were things that needed to change. Perhaps you needed to change.
Be open to the idea that you can get back on your feet and you can do so, in a loving, gentle way. It might not happen overnight, but with small actions, done consistently over time, perhaps like me, you might not just get back on track, you might forge a brand new one!
Be kind to yourself my friends!
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.