Just Try: How To Pick Yourself Up & Try Again
We’ve all been there: a failed relationship, a failed business attempt, a failed attempt at “putting ourselves out there”…and after things fall apart? We can feel very alone. (You think, “well, at least the cat still sits by me.”) We can feel the weight of self-doubt on our heads. (I will never leave this house ever again. Me and the cat. We’ll be fine. Does China Stop deliver?) Maybe you’re a crier and those tears won’t stop. (No comment.) Maybe it’s anger that just won’t let up. (My workouts get totally better spurred on by anger – oh look, a benefit!!)
Sometimes we can see the failure or breakdown of the situation was clearly our fault, sometime it’s a mix of missed opportunities & miscalculations caused by everyone involved and sometimes it’s just 100% not your fault. No matter the cause, it still (obviously) affects you. But eventually, you regain your equilibrium and you realize: it’s time to try again.
How do we pick ourselves up and try again? How do we regain our confidence and motivation to try? How do we set aside the fear of things falling apart again and step up onto that platform to once more put ourselves out there? Here are my tips – gained by experience. Like, so many experiences of finding myself alone with self-doubt – without even the cat because our cat does not do “comforting the owner.”
Here are my tips for getting yourself to a place of Trying Again:
1. Process What Happened – During the “good” times, we need to be developing relationships and friendships with those we can trust and who are wiser than we are. In those lower/worse/bad/still in your pj’s times, these are the friends to call on for support, love and truth. They can see the situation for what it is, without the mess of emotions you’ve added to it, and they can give us logical, objective answers. True friends forgive you the surrounding emotion and are willing to weed through the soggy Kleenex to get to you – the you they know. Yes, in certain situations, this may also include them pointing out to you where you messed up or helpful wisdom on what to try next time or telling you what you need to do to rectify the situation – however, the best of friends leave this part until much later in the “processing process.” For now, they just give you a hug and get you some ice cream.
2. Get Emotional – Allow yourself to process the emotional side effects of failure. Possibly there are going to be tears. In my case, there’s usually a substantial amount of anger as well (and most times when there are tears, it’s because I have no idea what to do with the anger as anger is generally frowned upon in genteel society… Failure Pro Tip: I’ve learned to workout when I feel this way. Go for a run. Play angry music. Punch things -that’s things, not people.). The emotion itself is not wrong – no matter what good, sweet “Christian” types have told you. But learn to process it in a healthier way (this takes practice) (lots of practice). Each time you learn to process it, you mature in how you react. If I was still reacting to anger the way I did when I was 22, we wouldn’t have any doorjambs left in the house. Grow, mature, but still allow yourself to process the negative. Shoving it down and creating bitterness is equally as immature.
3. Process Wisely – While talking to a few, close friends or wise mentors is good, talking to everyone about everything is not good. No matter what the situation is. If it’s just a failed business you experienced, it’s still not great to discuss details with every single person you meet. Why should you keep your mouth shut? 1. Because most people aren’t going to really care about what you experienced. And you’ll pick up on that “not caring” and you’ll take it personally. 2. If it’s a personal problem you had with someone else, watch what you’re saying about the other person. Is this information necessary for people to know? Probably not. Just because you’re angry, wronged and hurt, doesn’t mean others need to have their opinions swayed or affected. 3. When we tell others our problems, you know what they have for us? They have advice. Advice, 98% of the time, totally sucks. And advice that includes God usually 99.5% of the time totally sucks. You’re telling me that in the middle of my lowest point you feel you should tell me that “God will teach you something out of this.” LOGIC 101: Therefore, you are saying I needed to be taught something, so God decided to give me this so I could learn a lesson?? That’s a lot to blame on God for this failed marriage because somehow I needed to learn a lesson – which, in turn, also suggests somehow I was wrong or sinful or disobedient… and God was like, bam! Got you. Please stop saying this everyone. (Can God teach us something out of everything? Of course! But stop blaming the entire situation on the fact that He wanted to teach us something. This also takes responsibility for someone else’s actions and puts it on our plates – which, in certain circumstances, is totally and completely unhealthy.)
4. Remove Yourself – Take a road trip, read light, fluffy books, watch reality TV. Turn the brain off. I go shopping. I watch Real Housewives of Orange County. I take bike rides with my son and get out of the house. Be by yourself. Plan breakfast dates with friends. Do whatever it is that your personality needs to escape.
5. Read the Bible & Pray – Yes, it’s okay to escape and turn off our brains, but it’s also so good to fill our minds with truth. At our lowest points after a failure, our brains are telling us non-truths. And making up stories about other people and self-doubt is creeping in. The only TRUTH our minds need is the TRUTH of God and His word and the reminder of what ultimately matters. I pull out copies of Bible studies from She Reads Truth, a study that has just the Bible verses printed out in daily format, with a few questions to review the Scripture that day. It’s basic, it’s simple, it’s broken down into passages that are right in front of me, and doesn’t take much effort on my part to just pick up the book and read the verses. Because, let’s be honest, at my lowest, I need to expend as little effort as possible to find the truth. (They also have He Reads Truth studies for men. You can find them HERE.) This usually also helps me put things in perspective – not that I downplay what I’m going through (not healthy), but that I step outside of the temporal and see the eternal perspective.
6. Reframe & Perspective – Failures can seem so overwhelmingly scary and unsurmountable. With the help of those close friends, prayer and the Truth, reframe the situation and keep it in perspective. As my guest, Pastor Brian Coffey, mentioned in the latest podcast episode, just because a hitter strikes out four times in one game, doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. It means he struck out that day. (Hear the episode HERE). Time will move on. Other opportunities will present themselves and you’ll feel up to trying again. If you need to, make a written list of everything that happened and – when you’re up for it – honestly and objectively look at that list and pray about what really happened in each step. What can you learn from what happened? Is there a different approach you need to take next time? If it’s a business failure, is there someone you could go to for financial and business advice? If it was a failure in a performance situation, should you consider lessons in that area? If it’s a relational failure, counseling may be necessary, or books could be read on the subject. Take steps to learn how to approach the situation the next time it faces you.
7. List – When you’re ready, take actionable steps to try again. Goals – large and small – can be broken down. Do a brainstorming meeting (with yourself is fine! Or with a friend…either one!) to come up with ideas for what you will do next. Talk yourself into taking that first step toward getting up and out to tackle that situation again. Just to normalize things around here – I’ll totally admit that the first step in me “re-trying” something is getting to Target. I don’t even make myself change out of the yoga pants. The hair is a mess on top of the head. And I take myself over to Target and I get out of the house. That is a first step. Congratulate your brave self for that first step. (And by “congratulate” I clearly mean buy yourself a Venti at Starbucks.)
Friends, we all fail or feel like we failed. Sometimes it’s not our failure that created the situation, it’s just a plain old sucky situation. It hurts. It stinks. It makes us want to never try again.
But it’s worth it – so worth it – to search for hope to inspire us to try again.
*obviously, there are different levels and contexts of “failure” – be sure to not always look at things as “failure” on your part. i’m using it as a generalized term. also, if you experience symptoms of depression, seek professional help and consultation. possibly, you need to ask a friend or spouse for support if reaching out for help is too difficult at the moment. rely on them to find help for you. it’s okay to ask for their support and love.