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Sometimes, we hit a wall, a dead end, and we think it’s over.
The things we prayed and hoped for didn’t come true. What are we left with?
Starting over sucks. There’s no other way to put it.
We think nothing can touch us (well, the ego thinks that) and suddenly, it’s like life is ripping our hearts apart. We lose as much as we win. We feel pain as much as we feel joy. Sometimes, the bad feelings last longer and hit harder.
We think we have no choices left, but that’s not true. Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, said our last choice is attitude.
There are two things we can do when we hit a dead end:
1. Turn and walk away in defeat.
2. Create a new path.
I opt for the latter, don’t you?
Here’s what we can do if we have to regroup and start over. Here’s how to find resilience when we meet a roadblock.
This might sound simplistic, but live in the moment. Forget what is hurting you and holding you back. This mindfulness will lead you as everything tries to weigh you down. It makes you light as a feather to be present. Letting go is the great surrender. Saying, “I get this life is short so I’m going to live it” is a beautiful moment in any life. That’s because we don’t get to this realization easily. Sometimes, it takes losing everything to finally wake up.
The mountains won’t always move, but we can be moved. Our circumstance can’t always change, but we can change.
When we start the day, let’s be grateful to simply be alive. Let that be enough to fill our day. We get a second chance every day. Things won’t be easy nor is purpose always found, but we can do something wherever we are. If it is one act of kindness, a new idea, a moment made, a gift given, the unsaid said…whatever it is, let it find its way out from that deep place of despair and share joy for being alive itself.
When we do this, we see again. Our perspective changes. Life begins again. It starts by showing up. Just show up. When we walk in rain, let’s really feel the rain. When we stand tall, let’s reach even higher. When we hold someone, let’s feel their soul. When we say how we feel, let’s find catharsis. When we feel shame, let’s turn it into poetry. When life gives us a handful of ashes, let’s become the phoenix and rise again.
2. Take a gratitude inventory
As I already said, start with being alive as something you are grateful for. Then, add to this list.
But there is a twist. Sometimes, we can’t always find things to be grateful for. The hard things stay hard. The losses stay gone. The grief stays overwhelming. The doubts stay loud. The hurt stays.
Then, something happens that changes everything. A type of grace finds us, uplifts us to find what is worth finding for. Maslow calls these “peaks” that happen when we are self-actualized, but it can also happen anytime. These peaks are when insight, awe, reverence, joy, curiosity all come back to us. They are a big “aha!” moment.
They go like this: “I lost such and such, but wait, there is a gift in the loss. I gained this.”
No matter what we are going through, the formula works the same. There is always something to be grateful for. Most dark nights of the soul are when we wrestle completing this statement.
The darkness makes us appreciate the light. The losses make us appreciate the gains. The hurt makes us appreciate the healers. The worst makes us reach for the best, the more pure things we can find because we know what it’s like to be without them.
That, isn’t just gratitude. That is greatness. And we can be great if we think like this.
3. It’s not always about winning.
It’s not about winning the world over anymore. It’s about being authentic and doing the right thing, even if no one has done right by us. Even if we are alone in each choice we make.
Toxic positivity, hustle culture, and society in general are all like “win, win, win.” But the soul can make us stop and think and rest. When we are burned out, we need to revisit what gives us joy. It’s not always about winning. It’s not always about the image we portray. It’s not always about us.
What can we give in moments when we think we have nothing?
It doesn’t matter what it looks like for you, there is one thing you can give:
Love, that thing poets talk about and dreamers dream about and songs are sung about.
What can you do now that is the greatest form of love?
Don’t look back at what happened or didn’t happen to you. Create the light with a gesture of grace to someone else who needs lifted to where you are now. That sense of compassion is also beautiful humility.
We know we are no better than anyone else. It’s not about competing for the bigger sob story. It’s not about changing into what others want us to be. It’s about living so that our lives solve some problem. And that problem can be solved with a smile to a stranger.
Maybe we don’t want to let anyone in. Maybe we don’t let people in, in general.
An open heart opens hearts.
The more we give, the more we receive.
In any arena, that is needed. That is what is most looked for.
Instead of looking for the helpers, become the helper. Instead of just rising in your lane, open up your lane to let others in who deserve a voice and have a vision. Let them lead you. That way, everyone wins. It wasn’t a race all along. It’s a radical movement of love and care that is the ultimate goal.
3. Forgive yourself for getting here
When we are not where we want to be, it’s easy to think our circumstances equate our worth. We have trouble deciding how to face the world when we feel empty inside. But we are not alone.
No one is perfect. Not one single person.
So it’s time to forgive ourselves. Do that thing you wanted to do all along but didn’t think you deserved it.
We deserve it. We do.
We can’t always use everything for good. That’s one of those hard truths and tough pills to swallow. Our mess isn’t always our message. Not everything happens for a reason either. We may just try to get through one day and then the next. We can’t right every wrong. We can’t go back for every person we lost. We can’t change our history. We can’t stop those times we lost control.
What we do with the memory of our past defines us. Do we stay stuck there or do we give ourselves grace?
Go ahead. Give yourself grace.
When we feel like things went too far, we have to start by making amends. We have to start with saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t see you because the truth is I didn’t see me. I didn’t do right by you because I wasn’t doing right by me.”
This simple act helps us forgive others too, when we put ourselves in their shoes and welcome common humanity.
If no one comes back, if no one enters our circle of trust or backs us up, we have to respect that decision and let them go. Starting over doesn’t mean forgetting. It just means that we don’t let the worst things that happened to us stop us.
If you take it one day at a time—no, take it one moment at a time—then you can find self-love and security that grounds you in the goodness of being present and alive and a person still.
It’s not our fault if we failed or lost our way. It’s human to make mistakes. It’s human to get it wrong.
Use the pain. Use the problems. Use the frustrations. Use the losses. Use the unsaid. Use the past to prevent patterns. Use it all.
Only then will we be free.
4. You are a light
And you are meant to shine it. When we see our worth, our brilliance, our beauty, we can start again. Dismal settings and dark times might dim our light for a moment. But it’s an illusion.
Our light never goes away. It stays with us; it’s our essence, our humanity, our loves, our joys, our dedications, and our destiny.
What can we do with such a light?
Project it onto something or someone who needs it.
Lead by example. Empowerment starts with seeing what we have to offer, not just what we have failed at.
As long as you project that light somewhere, you will never fail. Even if the worst happens. Even if it all falls apart. If we can for a nanosecond shine that light onto something else, we have found what the world is searching for—a sense of meaning and purpose.
Our story doesn’t have to end with what we accomplished or didn’t accomplish of our to-do list. It doesn’t have to end with the friends who didn’t stay. It doesn’t have to end with the things that failed us.
All we have to do is simple.
Turn around our light onto something or someone else.
Let it shine. Let it show the truth.
If we can do that, then we have become a human being again, especially when we felt like we couldn’t feel anymore. That’s the last choice. That’s the right attitude.
We can turn every situation around for good. This is how we rebuild our lives.
The roadblock never truly existed. It was set up for our comeback. And that comeback is in how we choose to live.
That is victory.
If we remember our light, we know our life is not in vain. It’s meant to show the world what it needs. And that takes vulnerability. That takes accepting ourselves as we are. That takes not caring if the world will reject us again and again.
Because as long as we stand for something, we are someone.
No one can take that away from us.
That’s where we have the power to start again.