Do you remember a time in your life when you were down in the dumps? Things got so far away from you, you felt as though you couldn’t live another day? Remember? You felt like you were drowning. It may have been because your workload got you stressed out, an important relationship went sour, or your financial affairs got out of control.
Let’s look at a scenario . . . It wasn’t so long ago when you were at the top of your game. Remember? You felt like you were king or queen of the world. “Wow,” you thought, “everything’s going my way.” You were high on life and you began living high on the hog. You took expensive vacations, splurged on expensive gifts, borrowed money to renovate your kitchen, and even bought the sports car of your dreams. “No problem,” you thought. “Nothing will go wrong.” Your career was soaring, the stock market was exploding, and the world was beating a path to your door.
And then, out of nowhere –– I mean nowhere –– you hit a wall. The impact was so great that it seemed like people heard the crash from miles away. You lost your job in a restructuring, the stock market took a nosedive, and your hot water heater died, all in the same week. You thought the world was coming to an end. You felt as though you’d never be able to climb out of the hole. You were angry at the world.
Unfortunately, when times were good, you thought the sun would shine forever. “There’s no need to save for a rainy day,” you thought. You lived large. And the bills that followed were proof. When friends tried to point to dark clouds in the sky, you lashed out at them, thinking that you knew better.
Now’s a great time to have a talk with yourself
Take a moment and write yourself a note. Tell yourself how you feel. Do you have regrets? What would you have done differently if you could do it over again? Don’t worry . . . nobody’s going to read the note except you.
“Why go through this exercise?” you ask. Think back to the time when you were on top of the world. Would you have listened to anyone suggesting that the good days might end? Or, would you have thought, “The day of reckoning may come for others, but not for me.”
Unfortunately, people run into a wall, dust themselves off, and run into that wall again. This happens because they’ve blocked the bad experience from their memory. The fact is, every challenge in life offers an important lesson. So, do yourself a favor and recount what you’ve learned. You’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation and heartache. Plus, you’ll ensure that past mistakes don’t become a habit. As the saying goes, “There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Just don’t respond with encores.”
Some people may think, “Are you crazy? There’s no need to write down my thoughts. Trust me, I won’t forget.”
The fact is, there’s nothing more powerful than reliving the emotional experience in your own words. In fact, the same principle applies to other challenges: Recount the time you felt overwhelmed yet landed on your feet; you doubted your ability but surprised yourself with your spectacular performance; you feared the deadline yet met the cut-off date with time to spare. When you take the time to write down the experience, you’ll reduce the stress and anxiety the next time you face a similar challenge. On the flip side, it pays to recount losing situations to ensure that those “lovely” experiences aren’t repeated. As Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
So, go ahead . . . talk with yourself. What was the teachable moment? Maybe next time, you’ll be lucky enough to leap over the wall –– rather than run into it!
What do you think? Is it time to talk with yourself?
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Mark Hill says
Wow Frank. What great subjects you are bringing up to our attention (again).
There is a danger of when success comes our way that we not only get disillusioned about its lastingness, even more important, we become disillusioned about whom we think we are. Our ego has a tendency to inflate and distort the reality about oneself. We begin to even carry around a false confidence in the way we live our lives.
I once knew a coworker that was somewhat low key and cordial in the way he communicated with his fellow employees. He inherited about $1,500,000 and his behavior mysteriously changed. They way he walked around the office even began looking different. Before I knew it, he was always lecturing me about how I should think to become successful. Knowing his life circumstances, I found it difficult to submit to his instructions. Similar stories can be observed that took place during the dotcom era when businesses were being purchased for unbelievable amounts of money when their true value wasn’t even close. An example of this is in 1999 when Yahoo purchased a company that was doing about $13.5 million in revenue for $5.9 billion in Yahoo stock! And just think, the assets of that acquisition literally do not exist anymore. They are worthless. Guess what the CEO and cofounder of that purchased company is doing now? Lecturing, even writing books, on how to become a successful businessperson. Are his teachings credible? Maybe yes, maybe not.
But you bring up something else in your essay Frank that is most dear to my heart’s philosophy. It is when calamity visits us and bids us the opportunity of a “reality check”. It is when our egotistical castles built in the air about who we think we are get shaken into desolation as we draw nigh onto the terror of the Truth. What blessings can been found through calamities if we would be so daring to know the true reality about ourselves during these trying times. From this person’s well much knowledge can be drawn from.
And you are so right that we should write down our thoughts about these revealing times and continually reflect back least we forget and wander back into making the same mistakes about who we think we are over and over again.
Thanks so much Frank for sharing these interesting subjects to consider and think upon.
Frank Sonnenberg says
I’m sure you can tell I’m a BIG believer in continuous improvement. Learning isn’t something that ends upon graduation; learning is for life. So, anyone who thinks they know it all has a lot to learn.
The reason I wrote this post is because we can all use a reality check once in a while. One way of achieving that is to, “talk to yourself.”
On another note, my posts are never intended to represent THE answer. My hope is that everyone joins the conversation and builds on the thoughts. To that end, thanks for your thoughtful comments Mark. You ALWAYS advance the conversation.
Have a wonderful day.
Kent Julian says
I definitely talk to myself. Often when I’m driving, an idea pops. When it does, I capture it via audio on my iPhone. Some of my best ideas both personally and professionally have popped this way (smile).
Frank Sonnenberg says
What ever works best for you. You never know where or when the next idea will come from.
Have an awesome weekend!