With over a 90% failure rate in business, it’s hard for me to believe there’s not a slew of people out there feeling desperate…and scared that they’re about to “lose everything”.
First, if you are one of them, I want to say that I am truly sorry you are going through this. It’s no fun. It hurts. It’s scary. BUT, my goal by the end of this article is to give you a little glimmer of hope.
I’ve lost it all. Well, almost. I’ve never lost my kids and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’ve lost my 1st marriage, my home, my job, my health, my ability to walk, my friends, and for a time-I felt like I lost my sanity.
I won’t share too much of my story other than that (unless you want to hire me as a speaker…) Let’s just say I learned a few things.
The first thing I want you to do is-breathe. Seriously. Take a deep breath to calm the cortisol.
Then take stock in what you DO have.
-Do you have your health? Do your legs work? Your hands? Your mind? If so, you’ll be able to work no matter what-even if it’s for very low pay. (We’ll get to that in a bit.) This is a good thing, as there are people out there right now who literally can’t. (I was one of them.) If you can’t-it’s ok. We’ll talk about that later, too.
-Do you have anyone in your life you can be honest with? Anyone at all? If so, you’re going to make “an appt” to tell them everything. I mean EVERYTHING. You can warn them beforehand. Just say something like, “I’ve been going through some things lately, and I really need someone to talk to. You came to mind and I was wondering if we could meet for (drink, dinner, etc.). I’ll be honest, it’ll be a little of an offloading session, but I need someone to know what’s going on with me.” Then do it. If you are nervous, make a list of the things that are going on that you can refer to.
If you don’t have anyone to talk to-if you have the money- call a counselor and make an appt. Seriously. It’s not that bad. They’re paid to listen and you can tell them EVERYTHING and they’re paid to keep it just between you and them.
If you don’t have the money, I recommend a local church or agency. Call them and tell them you really need someone to talk to, but you don’t have the money to pay anyone. Let them help you.
Why is this important? What you believe to be true about your life being doomed-is not true. It’s your perception. You need a mindset change and it’s not going to happen relying solely on yourself. You need another pair of eyes and ears to assess the situation to see the best way “out” or “through”. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you can fix it on your own. YOU CAN’T. So stop wasting time and get help.
-Do you have a working car? Do you currently have money to put gas in it?
-Do you have a way to take a shower and your own toothbrush?
-Do you have presentable clothes?
-Do you have enough food to last a few days?
If you do, you are currently better off than 90% of the world’s population. 90% This means you have resources to work your way out of your current circumstances that 90% of the world’s population doesn’t have. With a little brains, some elbow grease and encouragement from others, you have what you need.
If you don’t have these things, please go right away and talk to a local church or agency and get these things. There’s no reason for you to be without.
The Biggest Enemy You Will Face in Overcoming is NOT Your Circumstances-It’s These 2 Things Inside of You:
2. Letting This Situation Define You
Pride will keep you from talking to someone, getting help, admitting you don’t know how to handle the situation, admitting you don’t have the tools, resource or “know how” to fix it, opening yourself up to recognizing where you’ve gone wrong (if you’ve gone wrong) and being willing and open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things. It will keep you lying to yourself and to others that everything is ok. It will prevent you from doing what it takes to make things better. Pride has way more power in potentially causing you to lose everything than your circumstances ever will.
Which leads to not “letting this situation define you”, as in YOU. Whatever situation you find yourself in does not mean you are:
-A bad provider
-Less of a man/woman
-A myriad of other things you think or believe
It’s just a bad situation you find yourself in. Did you contribute to it? Maybe. But that’s being human. We all fail. We all falter. We miscalculate. Make stupid mistakes. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe this is just happening to you. Is it fair? No. Does it suck? Yes. Unfortunately, it’s where you are at, but not where you need to stay.
Go to That Bad Place
Think of what it is that you are fearing if you were to “lose everything”? Write down EVERY fear associated with it. Example:
-“I’ll lose my company. If I lose my company I’ve let my employees and their families down. My wife will be angry. Maybe leave me. I won’t be able to provide for my children. We could lose the house. The car. Become homeless. People will think I’m a loser. I’ve failed as a father and a man.”
After you’ve written everything down, circle all the things you know are 100% true if they happen.
Example: My wife will be angry. But that doesn’t mean she will leave me. I could lose the house and the car, but we could always stay with my brother for a few months so we wouldn’t be homeless.
Now look at your list again. What parts do you have absolute control of? Some? None? Whatever parts you have control over, write them down on a different list.
With the parts you don’t have control over-mark whether or not they have to do with pride or letting the circumstance define you. Whatever parts are ruled by those two things-at least you know. When those thoughts or fears rear their ugly heads-you know the root. You’ll have to make a conscious decision EACH time to set those thought/fears aside and push through, regardless of your pride or allowing yourself to believe your current circumstance is all that you are.
Take the list of things you can control, and bring this to your friend, mentor, counselor-whoever-and ask their advice on what to do with the things you’re in control of.
Take Stock in Whether or Not You Feel Angry or Want to Hide?
It’s a broad generalization, but most people either get angry and lash out during difficult times (fight), or hide (flight). Pay attention to which one you are.
If you are lashing out at your co-workers, your significant other, drivers on the road, your dog:
As trite as it sounds, you seriously need to get off your butt and deal with your anger by working it out physically. Do what you enjoy so you stick to it. Punch a bag, lift some weights, dance, throw a ball, do 1,000 pushups until you’re not angry anymore. DO THIS EVERY DAY!
If you hide, schedule in hiding time-but only for a little bit. I’m a hider. I allowed myself a three day rule when I was really going through it. (Panic attacks, PTSD, depression, physically ill.) My three day rule was: “One day I’m down, 2 days I’m down, but on the 3rd day I rise.” It came in handy, as I gave myself permission to hide and grieve, but I had a plan to not stay stuck. No matter how I felt on the 3rd day, it was time to get off my butt. I rarely, if ever use it now, and when I do, it’s a 1 day-I’m up by 2 pm kind of thing. You can do this for yourself over a weekend. No matter how you feel on Monday-GET UP.
Now it’s Time to Get Gritty
When I was in the hospital I was in excruciating pain. It made child birth look like a cake walk. I had an infection in the joint of my hip where all of your body weight goes through. It was in the bone, the muscle and the joint itself. If you’ve ever had a tooth infection-that’s what it’s like only in a huge area of your body that moves and bares all your weight. When the nurse had me roll to my side, it was unbearable. Sitting up-impossble. Walking wasn’t even plausible. When I did move, the pain was so unbearable, I’d shake all over uncontrollably and get extremely nauseous.
Here was my problem. I knew in order to get better, eventually I’d have to get up. Laying there like a lump was atrocious, moving was horrendous. Since they both sucked, I decided I might as well get going. And it was terrible. I started small, like rolling over. Then eventually sitting up. Getting my leg on and off the bed. Eventually moving to a wheelchair. Then at some point, moving to a walker. All of it was painful. Embarrassing. Unbearable. I did it anyway.
You need to make a decision. Are you going to stay in your misery, lying there like a slug, or are you willing to do the unthinkable-and move forward despite whatever pain/embarrassment awaits? Only you can decide.
If you decide to get up, you’re going to have to dig in. Clench your teeth and start with baby steps. Be prepared that it’s going to suck, but you are not going to quit. This is really all it comes down to. I don’t care if you are lying in a hospital bed unable to move, it starts with that simple thought, “I’m not quitting. I’m going to do what it takes, go through the pain, to get through this situation.”
Ignore Other People
Once you’ve made a plan, come clean with the people you care about, have someone you can confide in, and made a decision to work your way out, it’s now time to ignore everybody else.
One of the last times I was in the hospital (my infection has come back on several occasions) I had graduated to the walker again. I was released after only 10 days in the hospital, because at this point, the doctors knew who I was and there was a routine. The day after I got out, I had to walk to a building with my walker that didn’t have a close parking space. My husband had to drop me off, so he could park the car.
I remember looking at the long walk way with dread. I did what-by now-I was used to doing. I dug in. One literal painful step at a time. I was awkwardly slow, weak, and beat down by this point in my journey. I took a step, then another. At one point I looked up and the door was still far off in the distance. My heart sank, but I kept going. A women walked out the door and towards me on the way to her car. She came up to me, and for whatever reason, patted my head like a dog and said, “Good for you for trying.” I have no idea what prompted her to say that. All I know is it was totally, utterly humiliating.
People are going to say s*** they have no place in saying. They don’t know your circumstances, nor do they decide your destiny. If you go from owning your own company to having to work for minimum wage for a while, so be it. You’ve got to dig in. This is where pride and allowing your circumstance to define you will rear it’s ugly head.
Embrace the Shedding
If you lose some things, you will be shedding them off. For a while it hurts, but after some time it’s freeing. Some thing you need to shed. Old thoughts, limitations, relationships, goals. They were holding you back to being the best you. If you lose your job, you now have the freedom to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life and begin working towards that goal. If you lose a relationship, it frees you up to explore life on your own terms without worrying about the other person. There’s shedding. Trees shed, animals shed, life sheds. Out with the old to make way for the new. The dying off/shedding part hurts, but the new growth that awaits is limitless.
Don’t Be Known for Your Failure, Be Known By Your Character
In 7th grade my Dad’s company went on strike and he had no work for 9 months. We lived a very humble life to begin with. (Seriously humble. As in-I was potty trained in an outhouse and spent my 1st 3 years of life in a one room cabin with no running water or electricity.)
My Dad took the only job he could find. Sweeping the floor of a lumber mill yard overnight. I remember him walking up the stairs to our front porch in the mornings, hunched over from sweeping for 8 hours. Covered head to toe in sawdust.
By doing this, my Dad wasn’t seen to us kids as a failure for not being able to “get a better job”. Instead we saw him as a man of character for doing what it took to take care of us. To this day, I still deeply admire and respect what he did and the example he showed us.
DO THE RIGHT THING. Do what it takes despite your pride, other people’s opinions, or your feelings about your current circumstances. No-you didn’t plan on being here-but you are. How you handle it will have a longer lasting impression of who you really are-than whatever circumstance you currently find yourself in. Dig in. Do the right thing, no matter how much it hurts….your pride.
Be Careful How You Medicate
If you are willing to work your way through your current circumstance, there are times it will be painful. If you find yourself looking to ease the pain through excessive food, alcohol, drugs, porn, etc., take a step back and self examine.
First, it’s normal to want to relief, but are you taking what appears to be the “easy road”? When, in fact, the “easy road” is making your situation worse?
There’s the healthy way to deal with pain, which often seems burdensome because there is work involved. Things like exercise, volunteering, being in community with other people. Doesn’t look fun on the outside, but it changes you in a positive way on the inside. The above list of food, alcohol, etc., is the opposite. Easy on the outside, has potential to destroy you on the inside.
Know what healthy choices make you feel good, and then DO THEM. Make it easy. If you play an instrument, have it in the room you spend the most time in. Stick a treadmill smack in front of the tv in your living room no matter how ugly it is. Commit to helping at the animal shelter immediately after work one day a week. Make it easy to do the right thing.
If things are really hard-dream. If you find yourself in borrowed apartment above a friends garage with your kid’s sleeping in sleeping bags, go somewhere and print out a picture of the home you want for them someday. Put it where you can see it. When you find yourself reaching for the bottle, ask yourself, “Is this helping or hurting me getting to my goal?”
With that in mind, sometimes medicine is a good thing. Talk to your doctor. Get advice. Do the right thing. Be known by your character. Dig in. It’s going to suck, but it doesn’t have to forever. Don’t let the temporary pain, stop you from your future.
Finally, if you do struggle with medicating yourself in an unhealthy way, give yourself grace. It’s ok. We all struggle with something. We all try to avoid feeling pain. Just be careful, and keep the big picture in mind. Reach out and ask for help. Don’t let your pride, or the fact you struggle, define you.
When You Can’t Get Up
If an avalanche of loss is taking place, you may find a time where you can’t get up. When you can’t get up-you need to reach out. If you don’t know where to reach, ask. Ask your human resource person, ask an agency, ask an on-line forum. I guarantee no matter what you are going through you are not the only one. You are NOT alone-and there IS help.
There’s Power in the Path You are Walking
Believe it or not, this failure, loss, whatever it is you are facing, could be THE thing that teaches you, shows you, helps you become the person you were always meant to be. Your pain is priceless. It will give you a better outlook on life, make you wiser, give you empathy, and potentially show you your purpose if you allow it.
A Few More Things I Know to Be True:
-You are stronger than you think
-Smarter than you know
-You’re perfect just the way you are-failures and all
-You have the power to do what it takes to change you-if you make that choice and ask for help
-Failure doesn’t define you
-If there was ever a time for you to go through this, the time is now because it will make you a better person-and who doesn’t want that sooner?
-There’s always another way, a way you may not see yet
-You might not escape it, but you have what it takes to get through it
-You can’t make someone else love you
-You can’t make someone else respect you
-You can’t control what other people think, feel, believe about you
-You can control you, and for a time that is enough
-Circumstances don’t last forever
-You can, still, and will live a happy and meaningful life if you allow yourself the grace, freedom, and grit to do so
-There is always hope. Always.
If you do anything with this article, my two takeaways I hope you leave with are to ask for help, and that there is hope no matter how dire your situation seems.
Also, if you read this article and you feel it would help someone else, I ask that you would kindly share it.
This is your one and only life. Only you can live it. So live it well.
Much love and kindness, Stacy P.
Stacy Pederson is a funny motivational speaker who-through the process of loss-learned how to truly live. You can learn more about her at StacyPederson.com.