Turning Points: Embracing the Suck, and Resetting Your Mindset When You Fall
Ever find yourself facing the proverbial monkey wrench that life loves to throw at you just when you were starting to catch your stride? Perhaps its more often then we'd like to admit. With the monkey wrench ranging in size from small and petty to large and totally destructive, for some of us, these wrenches do not just cause damage in our lives, they tend to wreak some serious havoc within us too.
It is in those instances when our mind turns against us, picks up a serious pair of boxing gloves and starts taking shots straight to the head for not seeing the damned thing coming; or for not knowing better, or not being better prepared, or for not executing life with ninja like stealth and perfection.
So, you end up questioning your self worth and feeling suddenly thrown into the deep and paralyzing abyss of self-destructive thoughts... all because you made a mistake on a work project, or realized rent was due on the 1st and its the 6th, or your car gets a flat tire on your way to an important interview when you were already running 20 minutes late. Or heaven forbid, you found multiple typo's in your latest social media post that has already been ridiculed and judged by the masses.
Its like your life has become a live rendition of Alanis Morissette's Ironic on repeat. 24/7...
Can you relate? Its ok, I've been there too. And sadly, its moments as small as dropping your phone and cracking your screen while in the middle of a text argument you were set on winning, or as big as the last major car accident you got into when you spent one second too long looking for a station on Spotify; that throw us into a crippling mindset of doom and gloom, both about ourselves and the world around us.
Sometimes the most ordinary events can trigger us into adopting a fixed and negative mindset about who we are. But the reality is: we are constantly navigating the turning points in between high and low moments of healthy self-confidence and utterly limiting, devaluing beliefs. What I have come to find is that it's in how we navigate our own mindset that determines not just our ability to recover, but how quickly we can actually turn it back around.
I recently found myself in one of these situations where I was stuck in this shit-storm for a brief time -- ok, like 3 full days-- thinking the absolute WORST of myself and my future... I mean legitimately doubting my own ability to experience any success in life on my own, and that I might as well throw in the towel and submit that application as a checker at the local convenience store down the street.
Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic and it probably is, but at least in my mind the situation was that dire. So let me share it with you; so you can laugh, learn, and commiserate with me.
It all started on a beautiful crisp morning, the day after Thanksgiving. It was gorgeous out, and I was ready after the holiday to get back to work on preparing to launch my business. I gathered my things, threw them in my backpack, tossed it over my shoulders and quickly ran out the door and into my car, off to Starbucks to seize the day! I'm cruising down the highway, blasting some good old Kanye West, getting myself mentally amped to sit down and saddle up with my laptop and latte in hand, and produce some pure business gold. Rapping right along with Kanye, I gaze into my rear view mirror with a smile, only to see those bright white, red and blue lights flashing ominously behind me. Oh, shit.
Truth be told, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, I had forgotten to pay my car registration....for 6 months. And it wasn't until I was pulled over, the day right after thanksgiving, for going 10 mph over the speed limit (ok fiiine, it was actually 12mph..) that I was very kindly reminded by the most friendly and non-condescedning police officer ever (note the sarcasm), that my registration had, in fact, expired.
He asks for all my information and walks back to his car where he spent a very long 10 minutes going back and forth on his radio, called in a second officer (wait, why are there two officers? This is it-- I'm going straight to jail) where they spent another 5 minutes talking and laughing aloud (at least someone is getting laugh out of this), while scribbling away on his pad before finally strolling back to my car, content with ticket in hand.
The feeling of impending doom was settling in.
"Miss, I'm going to have to site you for your registration. It's a fix-it ticket, and the DMV will be open on Monday so you can get it taken care of then and come back to have us sign it off, our office is right on the corner there"... a brief pause, during which I thought to myself, I can deal with a fix-it ticket. Easy.
Right as I was going to say, "Thank you, officer, I am so sorry about this," he resumes, "because your registration is 6 months past due," I held my breath... "your car is now towable...Do you have anyone you can call to come pick you up?"
Cue the sudden stream of tears now running down my face before I could even try to hold them back. "Yes, officer, my mom," I nearly whispered in despair.
I was shocked and utterly humiliated. I had thought for a second to beg the officer to reconsider, if I swore to have it fixed by Monday. But I was so embarrassed that I couldn't get the words out, let alone even look back at the officer. He informed me then, that he was going to let me off on the speeding ticket, since the fine for that would be expensive as well, and the fines to correct this violation would be high enough as it is.
Instead of gratitude, my heart sank even lower as I started to imagine how much this whole fiasco would end up costing. "Thank you, officer", I said with reluctance, wiping my face as I sat in the weight of the situation. "Please call your mom, now," he said. Oh yeah, let me get right to that.
I call my mom. She arrives. The car gets towed, and so do I-- head hanging about as low as my self-esteem. There I was just moments before, on my way to building my bright and successful future, only to be left feeling crushed less than five minutes into it...
(insert monkey wrench).
Three days, a very uncomfortable discussion about responsibility (or my lack there of) with my mom, and nearly one-thousand-humiliating-dollars later, was what it took to recover my newly registered car. But not nearly enough to recover my pride.
It didn't help that this particular wrench was thrown at me on the heels of a major turning point in my life, when just two weeks prior, I had very boldly set out in a new direction. I quit my job as I endeavored to go "all-in" on officially launching this business of mine, and actually create something that I was truly passionate about. I packed up my very comfortable and safe life. Left the beautiful city that I called home for the last eight years. Moved clear across the state in the most humble and ego-reducing fashion, to temporarily move in with my mom, until I got settled on my feet on this exciting, albeit quite daunting, mission.
Glamorous, I know.
Despite my fears in all this, I had been feeling fairly confident in my ability to make it work. With limited funds, no income, no savings, no safety net, no back up plan, and a moderate amount of debt that I still needed to pay off, I had quite officially burned all the boats. Prior to this moment on this day, I had honestly believed that for being 30-ish, this was the bottom for me. And, there was only one way to go from here. Which was honestly very uncomfortable in itself, but didn't feel entirely too bad.
That's only because for me, while it was a bottom, it wasn't the bottom. Not yet. Not until the registration fiasco unfolded.
The timing of this particularly unfortunate event saw that I was not only broke with no income, and nothing to my name, but about a $1,000 further in the hole, and now with no transportation in the remote city of no-where California, where the closest anything was 3 miles away. No exaggeration...
Did I mention it was the day after Thanksgiving?
We often let the simplest and most ordinary set-backs thwart our progress and shift our perceptions of ourselves. Had this happened at a time in my life where there was nothing else on the line, I probably wouldn't have felt so crushed, and not associated the experience with anything of greater significance. But facing an already vulnerable and humbling transition in life, those few days that I had to sit in the discomfort of this situation came with an even harder blow to my confidence, my self-respect, my self-belief.. you name it. And for the most part, rightly deserved. It was totally irresponsible to have forgotten about my registration like that. This was definitely a lesson that I needed to learn. But I don't believe it was THE lesson.
The real lesson came after three long days of beating myself up and letting one mild setback disrupt my beautiful and passionate vision for the future, as well as my beliefs about my ability to actually make it happen.
You see, this experience put me right back into a former mindset of self-destructive thoughts that only reinforced my own belief that I was a complete and utter failure in life. I let one bad experience evolve into hours of resumed negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, self-imposed obstacles, and what seemed like an ever-thickening mental fog about my future. What I had so clearly envisioned for myself and believed so whole heartedly in prior to this moment quickly dissolved into a pipe-dream that I would never be able to accomplish or see through.
How I was ever going to amount to something more than this, if this setback was a reflection of the type of person I was? Someone who was an imposter only playing the adult; who was forgetful, irresponsible, imperfect, not on-the-ball, disorganized, and in many ways behind on the real-world learning curve. And all I could think to myself was, I knew it.
It wasn't until I was driving home after getting my car back that I realized how badly I needed to get out of this pool of self-doubt. I couldn't waste any more time in this hole. I had a future that I needed to get back to working on. And I needed to create a turning point out of this situation that would land me back on course.
It was then that I very quickly cued up the lessons of personal development I had learned over the past year, and all that I could remember about managing my mindset. And it was in that brief pause from my negative internal dialogue, that my three dearest mentors: Tony, Brendon, and Carol, came to support me in my time of need.
Mr. Tony Robbins started playing in my mind, and said with a big sneaky grin and raspy voice, "You know the the best way to recover from failure, right? Make it meaningful by turning it into a lesson. What is the lesson here?"
In all honesty, I'm not even sure Tony has ever said that in in real life, but I heard it in my mind as though he had said it, and thought, "You know what Tony, you're so right. This experience is so valuable because it's teaching me a few things that I needed to learn."
Then, Brendon Burchard joins the conversation and sternly yet compassionately says, "Remember what I said about embracing the suck? Don't let this grow into a monster. Don't forget, you are not alone in this. You are not the only one who has experienced setbacks like this.. others have certainly had it worse, and they recovered. So will you, and there is a blessing in that. So whats the blessing here, Natalia?" And I thought, "Its true, this does suck, but the blessing is that I got my car back, and that I have the support and love of my mother to help get me through this situation, when others most certainly have had much less. I am so grateful for her."
And then finally, Carol Dweck adds in her very nurturing way, "Seems like you have a fixed mindset about all of this right now, Nat... How would you feel about the situation if you shifted to a growth mindset?" To which I respond, "Well I guess I would have to stop seeing this as a reflection of who I am and a estimation of my worth. If I shift to a growth mindset, I would see this situation as something that could happen to anyone, and that I can use this experience to inform better decisions in the future."
And just like that, within a couple minutes, I climbed my way out of that festering pit of doom-and-gloom that was crippling me for the last seventy-two hours.
A very looong story short, through this experience I realized that while I will certainly be plagued again by my own minds ability to short circuit into a whirlwind of self-destructive thoughts, I don't have to linger in that place for long, and neither do you. Whether its hours, days, weeks or months into it, there are tools to navigate our way BACK to being in a much more positive, loving, and empowering place just by shifting our perspective.
So, if this resonates with you on any level, even remotely, I would like to share with you these four tools that can help you when you find yourself in the pit:
- If you're having a hard time overcoming a troubling moment, ask yourself, "what can I learn from this to make this experience meaningful and valuable to me?"
- Try to, as Brendon says, embrace the suck, and look to find the blessing in the situation (there is at least one, I promise). Remind yourself that others have experienced similar circumstances before, if not worse, and that they too have recovered from them, and so will you.
- Adopt a growth mindset and give yourself permission to evolve from this moment smarter and more prepared for the future. Ditch the fixed mindset that associates your mistakes as a permanent reflection of who you are.
- And lastly, cultivate a loving inner voice that will guide you through tough moments like this. Who will stand up to that gang of negative voices in your head and put them in check. For me, its in the form on my personal development guides. Whoever you choose that voice to be, let it be kind, loving, and a steadfast champion of you and who you are destined to become.
For some of you the last one will be the most difficult to do. It certainly was for me. If so, find some personal development and self help guru's that will serve as that inner voice for you until you cultivate your own.
It's not easy and it takes practice, but it is totally worth it, because nothing is worth creating a barrier between us and our dreams. The real world creates barriers enough. We don't need to let our mind become a barrier too. Nothing is worth taking our precious time, attention, and energy away from pursuing what we have always loved, wanted and dreamed for ourselves.
Wrenches will be thrown, and mountains will be made of mole hills. Consequential or not, we will inevitably experience moments in life that will take our attention away from our goals and dreams, shooting us right into that dark place of self-deprecation. We have to learn how to embrace the suck, and navigate through those valleys as swiftly as possible, quickly resetting our mindset when we fall. Because as Ruth Mary Allan said, "Time waits for no one. Get busy living the life you want to lead."
Many of us have wasted quite enough time in the pits of despair over one thing or another. Its time to get out of there... for your dreams are waiting.
Natalia Diane Sanchez, CHPC
Professional and Personal Growth Coach
I have created a PDF guide that will walk you through the steps you'll need to reset your mindset, and overcome setback's if you find yourself struggling to shift back. If you would like access to this, please click on the button below!