By this point, people on the stairs had stopped. Some were concerned; others were holding their laughter until they knew I was okay. And, I was. I quickly jumped up, laughed it off and said something about “those darn shoes.”
A physical fall is relatively easy to overcome, but a real fall — a failed relationship, a firing, a divorce, a bankruptcy or foreclosure, an illness or a death can be devastating. Those are falls that can’t be laughed off with a throw-away comment or a quick regaining of composure.
So how do you get back up after taking a demoralizing fall?
First, you feel it. It is not cowardly or weak to cry or get angry or sulk around depressed. In fact, it’s the smartest and strongest thing you can do. Suppressing emotion is not the same as dealing with emotion. Refusing to acknowledge what you are feeling doesn’t make it go away or make you feel it any less. Burying emotion down deep inside of you makes them grow and fester. Eventually they erupt, usually in some unexpected and destructive way. As a coach friend of mine says, “The only way to get through it is to go through it.”
Once you begin to feel a little better, once the heart has had its say, turn it over to the head. That’s right, put on your thinking cap. Ask a few critical questions.
- What can I learn from this?
- What could I have done differently?
- What will I do differently the next time around?
Finally, recognize that you are in good company. The most successful people, from athletes to entrepreneurs to musicians, have all failed and in many times failed gloriously. It isn’t the failure that defines them but the success that came after those ‘learning experiences’.
They came back smarter, stronger and more sure of themselves. And you will too.