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!