Three weeks ago, I wrote an article about unexpectedly starting off 2015 with a significant personal and professional failure and loss.
I was, and continue to be, surprised and humbled by just how much that article resonated with so many of you out there.
I guess it struck a common and difficult nerve. And hopefully by now, some of you, like me, are well on your way to getting your mojo back, and exciting new beginnings.
But for those of you that are still getting bombarded with well-intentioned advice such as: "Just shake it off!"...or the ever-popular: "Just dust yourself off and get back on that horse right away!"...or the always empowering: "Stop moping around and feeling sorry for yourself, and just get over it!!", this article is dedicated to you!
Well-meaning or not, those gems of advice are little more than highly annoying platitudes, or are, in fact, simply b.s.
The reality is that rebounding and finding your mojo once more after a significant setback, failure or loss involves a lot more than simply "shaking it off" no matter what Taylor Swift says. It takes some essential and necessary stages and actions that if missed will keep you stuck, and stop you from learning and growing from the experience, which no matter how unpleasant is a rich opportunity for personal growth.
Anyway, here are three things that have worked for me and others I know (including my clients). If you've already tried a bunch of things and are still feeling down and stuck, perhaps they'll provide you with some inspiration!
1. The Art of Sulking & Consuming Junk Food
Feeling happy and cheerful is something we all want, but sometimes, and especially when you've experienced failure, the best thing you can do for yourself is NOT to "fake it until you make it," but instead give yourself some time and space to mourn, sulk and eat garbage.
Interestingly, it's socially acceptable to mourn when someone we loves dies, but think about it, when a dream dies -- whether it's your business, a project or an idea that held great promise, your marriage, a meaningful friendship, your job, having a baby etc. -- it's not seen the same way.
The thing is, it's still a significant loss that hurts like hell and therefore deserves the same respect and process in order to heal from. Be sure to look up Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' fives stages of grief.
What this means for you is this: one of the best things you can do for yourself on the road to getting your mojo back is to give yourself permission to mourn this failure and setback. Give yourself permission to be miserable, grumpy, anti-social and self-indulgent, but set a deadline in stone. And make a commitment that on that date, you will take some sort of small action to get into gear and get things going again. It could be as simple as updating your LinkedIn profile, or making inquiries about volunteering, or getting to the gym.
But in the meantime, it's OK to shut yourself off from the world for a few days, live in your yoga clothes, eat ice cream, cake and pizza while mindlessly watching TV and vacillating between having a good cry every so often and being really grumpy and pissed off in other moments. Well, that's what worked for me!
One very important factor: be sure to communicate this to your spouse/partner and family, and nicely! Kindly ask them for some space, and to just let you be for a bit. And remember, you don't want to do anything that would be harmful or destructive to your health and wellbeing (sugar is not your friend long-term!), or your closest relationships.
2. Let The Love & Ass-Kicking In
My self-imposed carbohydrate-sugar-and-mindless-television-fuelled-exile was going really well, that is until I got my ass kicked by one of my dear friends "L."
What happened is that another dear friend "L" (yes, they both have names beginning with the letter L) knew I was going through a tough time and had suggested that the three of us get together for brunch. Of course, I had found some lame excuse to weasel out of going. This prompted an email and lion's roar from the usually gentle "L1": "Stop hiding. Get your butt down here. This is when you need your friends," to which "L2" wholeheartedly concurred, and I swiftly complied.
The Ls were right -- that was indeed when I needed my friends most. Yet, it's in those moments of pain that we tend to withdraw, isolate and hide. That's exactly what I was doing. It's fine for a while, until it isn't anymore.
What this means for you is this: let your friends in when they reach out to you, or proactively reach out to them. Modern life is not friendly to friendships. We're all so wrapped up in our hectic lives and drama, that many times we don't prioritize friendship, especially the meaningful ones.
But the fact is that when you've had a setback, are feeling blue and miserable, that's when you need your friends most. Yet in our society, asking for help is somehow equated with weakness. It isn't!! It's a sign of wisdom, courage and the willingness to prioritize your self-care and allow yourself to receive support, love, help and friendship when you need it most...especially when you're someone who's more used to giving, than receiving.
And remember, your real friends will not judge you. They will love and accept you, warts and all, failures and all. So, don't be afraid to let the love and support of your friends in. It will go a lot way to help you bounce back faster.
3. Find Your Centre Again
Here's how it goes: you get knocked down, you feel like crap because you've hit the bottom, and guess what else takes a beating? Your sense of confidence, self-trust and self-worth. Congratulations on being a member of the human race!
Finding your centre again quickly is indeed possible and doable.
First, celebrate the wins.
Whatever it is that you tried and failed at, remember it is only those people who are willing to take risks that experience the biggest rewards.
Yes, I know that doesn't mean shit when you've hit the bottom, but do what you can to focus on what did go well and the wins that you did get from the experience, even if the final outcome wasn't what you had expected.
For the past 15 years, I've always had some sort of meditation practice on and off, the latter because I too have got sucked into the "life's too busy" trap.
Many people think that meditation involves wearing a robe, sitting around uncomfortably cross-legged chanting some exotic words you don't understand, trying not to sneeze from the weird smell of incense, while your mind races with your to-do list and your left foot starts of feel numb.
Well, that's not the case!
Basic meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day is actually a lot simpler than most people realize, and with some simple steps and know-how can become an important part of your daily routine...and in the face of a setback or failure, can help you get your mojo back a lot faster than not doing so.
The evidence for meditation improving physical, mental and emotional health is overwhelming, and all the studies out there point to very clear and tangible benefits. These benefits include a reduction in anxiety, stress, obsessive and depressive symptoms, and an increase in mental clarity, feelings of calm and groundedness, as well as functional improvements including better performance, creativity, happiness, engagement and resilience. Not to shabby, huh?
So, let go of those pre-conceived notions and the old excuses of "I can't meditate. I can't sit still. My mind gets distracted and starts racing" Blah blah blah. The reality is that all of those things are completely normal and to be expected. It's what everyone goes through, including me. It's not as if I, or anyone else, was born with some sort of "special yogi gene"!
The key is to just start. Give it a try. And if you need to, find someone to show you the ropes and help you get started. Remember, it's like starting any type of new exercise or training program. After a few weeks, it will get smoother and easier, and you'll wonder how you ever managed without it.
So, there you have it. Three simple and proven ways to help you get your mojo back and bounce forward after experiencing a failure, setback or loss.
You can do it...I'm rooting for you!