We have all suffered through tragedy and then had to face the challenge of bouncing back.
Sometimes, coming back from these experiences is more difficult than we expected. Our confidence is blown, our motivation absolutely disappears…and why wouldn’t it?
I recently suffered one of these tough life blows and it has been difficult trying to pull myself out of the rut. It is because I know that I’m not alone in this struggle that I’ve chosen to share some of my insights on rediscovering your confidence and motivation after a setback.
My hope is that others can benefit from the things I’ve learned.
1. Start with a List.
After a devastating event, it’s very natural to want to go into cocoon mode and simply do nothing. This kind of shutting done is a natural, emotionally-protective reaction. After all, nothing bad can happen when you do nothing. Of course, nothing good can happen either.
One way to gently bring yourself out of this state is to start with a to-do list of five simple things that you will do for yourself every day. Here are the five things that were on my list.
1. Write down five things you like about yourself—even if you write the same five things every day.
2. Eat one meal. It doesn’t matter if it’s cereal and fruit.
3. Get dressed and brush your hair.
4. Sit on your patio for 20 minutes
5. Watch or read something that used to make you laugh.
Eventually, you can add new things to the list that require more energy, more time and more putting yourself out there.
2. Explore Journaling.
Recovering from an emotional blow is difficult any time of the day, but many people often find that mornings and evenings are particularly difficult. For me, I tended to have a difficult time in the morning. So, I decided to wake up and begin journaling first thing every day.
Journaling is a great way to purge emotions in a healthy way. It also gives you the opportunity to go back and review those emotions later on, which can give you valuable insight into your feelings when you aren’t right in the thick of things.
I was significantly more upbeat after journaling. We may not feel like leaving the house when we get up in the morning, but after an hour of journaling, we may feel positive enough to take a walk. Or when we feel agitated and anxious in the evening, journaling might make us feel content enough to get a decent night of sleep.
3. Get Back Out There.
There is no substitute for getting back out there when it comes to regaining confidence. However, I think that a lot of us who have dealt with loss or personal tragedy understand that taking it slow is key. In my own life, I took the first step by picking up a part-time job at a community rec center. For others, getting back out there may be making themselves available socially, or traveling.
Even better, taking small steps to rejoin the world can have unexpected, yet pleasant, results. I still work part time at the rec center, in addition to my writing, but I’m not at the front desk anymore. Instead, I coordinate educational programs that educate members of the community on topics ranging from nutrition and healthy living to financial literacy.
Your particular journey of recovery might have a completely different, but equally wonderful outcome. However, there is no way of guaranteeing that will happen without a little bit of risk taking.
4. Create as Therapy.
Finding a creative outlet can be a real lifesaver when it comes to regaining confidence and motivation. There is something about the creative process itself that is absolutely therapeutic, not to mention the boost in confidence that comes from completing a creative project. I encourage anybody who is struggling to find something creative to try, and then have fun doing it.
Here are a few ideas:
● Going with friends to a weekly sip and splatter place to enjoy one another’s company while creating art.
● Taking an enrichment art class at a local junior college or community center.
● Buying and using arts and crafts kits, such as jewelry making sets or needlepoint projects.
● Stripping down and refinishing a neat piece of furniture.
● Working through an exotic cookbook.
● Using graph paper and markers to design the perfect garden.
● Repainting and redecorating a room.
As long as it is hands-on, enjoyable and results in a finished product, go for it! I truly believe that incorporating more creativity into my life helped me succeed.
5. Recognize Small Accomplishments.
One reason that many people struggle with a lack of confidence after a major setback is that they measure progress using the same standards they would have before the event that left them damaged occurred. As a result, people often beat themselves up over not having accomplished as much as they think they should have on a given day.
They may also fail to recognize the little steps forward that really are significant. For example, simply taking a trip to the grocery store or inviting a friend over for tea might seem insignificant, but these are meaningful steps for a person who has been faced with a difficult situation.
This is why it is important for people to recognize small accomplishments when they achieve them. They aren’t meaningless—they are the result of hard work. They are proof that you can overcome the challenges life puts in your path.
Author: Rick Riddle
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Ermin Celikovic/Unsplash