What do you do when you slip up or “fall off the horse”? Life is moving along and you’re thinking that things are going really well; you’re feeling calm and in control; getting stuff done; and all of a sudden – they’re not going so well – at all. You notice that you’ve totally slipped up or fell back into old habits. What do you do? Well, I hope you forgive yourself! But, I know many of us don’t. Our automatic reaction is to blame and criticize ourselves.
I noticed recently that I had been slipping up quite a bit and I started feeling especially badly about myself. I eventually knew I had to forgive myself, but it took some time to get back to that place. The lessons I’ve learned from my mindfulness and meditation practices were the key to forgiving myself. I know that starting again is just part of life, and doing so without self judgment is how to live with ease and in a peaceful state. And really, starting again can literally happen several times a day.
Don’t be afraid to start over again. This time you‘re not starting from scratch, you‘re starting from experience…
When you’re feeling good, going with the flow is easy, right? You’re calmly able to get things done, take care of what needs taken care of, check things off of your list, have good conversations with people, make good and healthy choices, and look back on your day and what happened with a sense of pride and fulfillment.
On the other hand, when you’re feeling yucky, it’s not easy to go with the flow when the flow is bumpy, rough, or unpredictable.
Feeling yucky in midlife can look differently than when we were younger. There are lots of things that we are dealing with at this age that can affect how good we are feeling and how well we are able to go with the flow, accepting life’s ups, downs, curves, and zig zags.
- The kids are growing up and about to leave or have grown and already left.
- We’re navigating how to talk to our “grownup” kids.” (Sign up here for a list of 20 things to say to your kids to show acceptance and respect – that you can print out.)
- There are a lot of feelings about our relationships with “grownups” too!
- There are hormonal things going on that we may not understand.
- Aches and pains sometimes seem to multiply overnight.
- Our parents are aging too and possibly experiencing declining health.
- We may be feeling like time is running out for any hopes and dreams we once had.
- Questions like, “what’s next for me?” are running through our minds.
So, even if you have begun to come to terms with a lot of these midlife things, there are other normal life events occurring daily that can knock you off balance or just throw you right off that horse. You may not see it coming.
Or, maybe you’ve been feeling a general sense of yuck overall, nothing too serious, but one thing sets you off – the final straw so to speak.
Who the hell really knows why it happens, but when it does, it sucks! And, if others are involved (which is pretty much always the case, right?), they are affected as well.
WHAT DOES SLIPPING UP LOOK LIKE?
Slipping up or “falling off of the ‘things are going well’ horse” can be something minor like staying angry for a bit too long after getting a snide email at work.
Or snapping at your grown(ish) children when they leave their dishes piled up for you to do.
It might even be eating that whole ice cream sundae that you promised yourself would last at least two days.
Or, it could be that you’re just putting off (or avoiding) things you know need to be done.
But, there are also times when slipping up means that something has triggered you and you have a major outburst or “breakdown” type thing. Do you know what I’m talking about? (I hope I’m not the only one!! HA!)
I’ve had my fair share of occurrences/outbursts/flip-out moments. Some of them were embarrassingly “big” in my opinion. They’ve happened at work and in my personal life.
Normally, these outbursts happen when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, exhausted, or otherwise feeling badly about myself.
And, after my moment of snapping, yelling, stomping or even throwing something (rare but it has happened), I quickly move into self blame and self deprecating thoughts with some strong emotions and tears. (It’s actually a little hard to admit this stuff – and ya know – put it on the internet.)
These moments of “falling off the horse” (big or small) – whether it’s just a slip up or a major reaction – are NORMAL and we need to allow ourselves to feel our feelings and move on.
But, oftentimes, we can get stuck in a pattern of beating ourselves up for our “mistakes.” For those of us that have dealt with depression, this can mean getting stuck in a type of quick sand that won’t let go. It pulls us in and it is NOT easy to climb out of that hole. It sucks you in deeper and deeper.
Resistance leads to staying stuck. Resistance can look like worry, anger, spiraling negative thoughts, etc. And a lot of the time comes with strong emotions and physical body symptoms. These are the “fight or flight” reactions that are meant to keep you alive – basic human self protection.
But, as you know, most of the time, the things that we are resisting are not life or death situations.
Fortunately, after many instances of getting stuck over the years, I now have a stockpile of tools that can help. I have learned that acceptance of the situation, whatever that may be, is 1000 times better for my well-being than resistance.
Allowing myself to flow WITH what is happening, rather than RESISTING what is happening leads to calm feelings and the ability to deal with the situation rationally.
Quick overview of RESISTANCE VS. FLOW ↓↓↓
What can keep you from getting stuck in that self critical place? It really comes down to one thing – forgiving yourself.
Most of the time, the tools I have compiled do the trick for me! But, there are days when it’s harder than others to forgive myself for having such a reaction…for “allowing” myself to get to that point.
First acknowledge what’s happened. The truth is that it’s really not that you’ve fallen off, but that “life happened.”
Not every day is a perfect day. Not every day can you be 100% on. (And, as I always say, there is no such thing as perfect anyway.)
Remember that we are human beings and our brains are equipped to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. Hence, we are more prone to focus on the negative. Again – our brain’s way of helping us stay alive. It’s called the Negativity Bias.
Again, we cannot fault ourselves for how our brains were made. Another reason to give ourselves permission to slip up, fall off, or derail – and start again, start over, or start fresh!
Accepting our human nature and accepting that life is like a roller coaster is like giving ourselves permission to start again. No matter what, there will be ups and downs, days when you feel great and days when you feel crappy.
And within each day even there will be points where you may feel fantastic and other moments that you feel offended by something or angry at the world.
Accepting these things and starting over again is a constant. Just because you “fell down” doesn’t mean you stay down. You can (and will) get up again – and again.
HOW MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS HELP
Meditation reminds us of this and helps us practice starting over – and over and over and over.
Every breath is starting over.
Every time your mind wanders away, you come back to the breath (or another “anchor”) and start over.
And you start over without judging yourself or criticizing yourself for “doing it wrong.” Because it’s all normal. Just like our reactions and behaviors are human. We cannot fault ourselves for being what we are.
Meditation works the mind just like lifting weights works the muscles. It’s a SIMPLE exercise that, when done regularly, helps you with the heavy mental and emotional “lifting” that is required some days…let’s be real – MOST days. Starting over is not difficult. It’s not bad or wrong to have to start over. It just IS part of life.
RESOURCES FOR FORGIVING YOURSELF & STARTING AGAIN
One of the best resources to add to this topic of forgiving yourself and starting again is an episode of The Adult Chair Podcast called: The Benefits of a Meditation Practice with Sharon Salzberg. Sharon Salzberg, one of the world’s leading experts in meditation, says, “It’s the practice of letting go and being able to begin again.” 💜
And, another related post: How to be ok with having no control over your situation
If you know me, you know I only promote things that are simple to put into practice! I had avoided things for many years because I thought it would be too hard, take too much effort, or just not work for me. I’m here to tell you firsthand that these practices are EASY and THEY WORK!
Get the Free Morning Magic Checklist, print it out and see what these easy habits can do for you.
I bet, after a month or so, you’ll be feeling more relaxed and able to let things roll off your back.