Monday, July 6, 2020

How To Be a Knock-Out When Life Tries to Set You Back


“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”- Charles R. Swindoll

Have you ever felt like you won the fight only to be knocked down again?  The glory can feel so fleeting.  It’s as if the universe doesn’t want you to get too comfortable with the win. 

For some, they take hit after hit and still get fists up ready to go at it again.  But for others, the continuous hits drop them to their knees where they can’t seem to steady themselves enough to get back on their feet. 

I would be the latter. . .

They feel invincible:  How California’s coronavirus plan went wrong- The Guardian

How did we get here?  California struggling to stay on top of pandemic- San Francisco Chronicle

‘We opened the floodgate’:  Doctor explains why California COVID-19 cases keep going up- ABC 7

These are just a few of the recent headlines touting the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in California after reopening efforts. 

It’s as if we were celebrating the knock out—turning our heads just for a moment to enjoy the crowd’s cheer—when our opponent suddenly jumps to his feet for another round. 

Just when a semblance of normalcy appears and you begin to celebrate life as you once remember—eating at your favorite restaurants on date night, getting a much needed pedicure and planning a surprise birthday party for your best friend—the universe says, “Not so fast!”

How you handle setbacks—like California scaling back its reopening efforts—has a lot to do with your adaptability, coping mechanisms and ability to roll with the punches.   

I wish that I could proudly state that I hold various world champion titles in the art of handling life’s disappointments —but that would be a lie. 

My go-to response to most things that don’t go my way is similar to a small child being told, “No.”   I typically respond first—think later.  Responses vary from flat out denial, anger and refusal—to pouting, complaining and feeling sorry for myself.  Laila Ali, I am not. 

Seeing the glimmer of hope that things were getting better—only to have it stripped away—could cause even the greatest of fighters to thrown in the towel.  

I typically need a long warm up before I jump in the ring again.  I need to stretch my emotions, condition my responses and work out any negative self-talk before I tackle unwanted setbacks.  But I always jump back in.  Always.

Developing coping mechanisms to deal with my depression and anxiety has been a life-long journey of acknowledgment, discovery, patience and forgiveness.  I realized long ago that lying to myself and others about my struggles doesn’t make me a winner.  Championing for others—and myself, does. 

We all deal with setbacks in our lives—the COVID-19 setback in California’s efforts to reopen is just one of many.  Some people deal with setbacks like born champs—going for the KO.   Others—like myself—duck and weave to stay out of harm’s way until we can get our footing. 

The following are a few tips to get you in fighting shape to square off to life’s challenges:

1.     Don’t Beat Yourself Up- This is something I am working daily on.  When I experience a challenge, disappointment or setback, I typically let it affect my self-esteem and self-worth.  Negative self-talk is on autopilot and I have to work extremely hard to beat down the voice in my head that says, “You are not good enough.” Or, “You can’t handle this.”  This takes a lot of practice.  It’s not easy to flip the switch to life-long negative conditioning, but you can do it!  Surrounding yourself with encouraging people who are positive and supportive is key to giving you that little push you need to start being kind to yourself after a setback.

2.     Accept the Pain- The worst thing you can do when dealing with a setback or challenge is avoid it or deny it.  Acknowledging that in life you will experience disappointments will offer you the ability to plan accordingly.  Have a strong foundation and support system that you can lean on with life throws you a right hook.

3.      Focus on What You Can Control- You can play a part in getting things back to normal by controlling how you behave.  You have zero control over anything but yourself.  Concentrate on how you can make a change in your life and learn from any setbacks that come your way.  Be a part of the solution, not the problem.  Example:  If we are struggling with reopening because people are not adhering to social distancing and wearing masks; you concentrate on how you can influence others to adhere to safety guidelines.  If each of us does our part, we will get one step closer to getting back to normal.

4.      Don’t Give Up- No matter how dire things are in your life, I’m here to tell you someone has it worst.  Two of the strongest people I have ever met went through hardships I would never want to imagine.  One fought cancer.  He ultimately lost, but never gave up hope and never stopped fighting.  The other lost back-to-back loved ones.  She is resilient.  She is a leader.  She never gives up.  She is my best friend.   Learn from others and gain strength knowing that if they can fight, so can you.

Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement.  We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment. 

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