No one tells you at any point how to fall when things go south. No one tells you how to shield your spirit. No one tells you enough how failure is painful. No one tells you about the humiliation, anger, and toxic numbness. As a child, regardless of which parenting style you have been raised, when you fall, ideally, your emotions are validated. Your parents or caregivers might rationalize, but eventually, the emotional approach you receive allows you to label the pain, and ultimately you feel safe. A kiss, an antiseptic, or a cast with the reassurance that “you will be fine” and off you go to explore your next venture.
As an adolescent, you experience frustrations and disappointments. Generally, your parents will empathize and give you emotional courage. They will reassure that “if you are not failing sometimes, that means you are not trying hard enough.” They will help you learn self-regulating skills, put a smile on your face, and make sure that you remember that their love is unconditional.
Later in life, as an adult, you are encouraged to take chances. They show you the grassland in front of you and pressure you to explore. Only you have to jump over the cliff to enjoy the beauty of the prairies. Equipped with your dreams and ambitions, you run, but sometimes things go wrong, and you fall. Your body aches, and the psychic pain is unbearable.
You see, it’s not the fall that gets you but how you fall. A bruised bone or a scar on your hand can be fixed but what about your soul. No one told you that the magnitude of agony is beyond what you have experienced as a child. No one taught you the depth of resilience you need to withstand the despair. Now, as you are hurting, social anxieties creep in, your confidence diminishes, addictions take over, low tolerance with stress webs around you, and the vision for future becomes a blur.
Move away from numbing your pain with unhealthy behaviors and distractions, you need to develop the antidote called, “Self-compassion.” A mindset that encourages you to display leadership skills instead of anger or wallowing in self-pity, and self-doubt. And knowing that nothing in life worthwhile is ever going to come easy, and while each of us has a different set of circumstances, it takes a period of hopelessness and bad feelings, self-help materials, and definitely a wise mentor to recalibrate your mind and cultivate Self-compassion.
Kristin Neff, a researcher explains that self-compassion has three elements:
- Self-kindness, which translates into curbing harsh self-criticism
- Recognizing one’s own humanity, accepting the fact that people are imperfect and we all experience distress
- Mindfulness, maintaining impartial thoughts of our experiences not to disregard or magnify them
That said, learning to extend Self-compassion is an ability that can be developed with the support of a wise mentor, reading self-improvement, and practicing coping skills.
1- A parent or mentor who motivates, encourages and opens a window to let the airflow when you are hiding from the embarrassment. One that listens when you ruminate, validates your anger, and responds with kindness. A mentor that refrains from dismissive attitude and compassionately reminds you that you are not alone. And like a good coach supports you.
2- Here are a few good helpful books to cultivate a productive mindset:
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success -by Carol S. Dweck”,
- Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell
- Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure — By Tim Harford
3- Bouncing back from hardship is a process to strengthen your resilience and to nurture a sense of peace through mindfulness techniques. Working at activities that help you embrace challenges to learn from setbacks and criticism and put effort into achieving. You can refer to mindful.org to learn about different activities and the Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness meditation series (you can also refer to my Mindfulness Series Section).
On a final note, turning your focus outward by volunteering brings a new perspective into your life, has health benefits and boosts your brain’s natural high. Studies have found that helping others for the right reasons improves wellbeing from lowering your blood pressure to reducing feelings of depression. So try to replenish your mental state with good deeds with no expectation of reward.