I have written several posts now about overcoming adversity, not making excuses, and having the strength to keep fighting in the face of obstacles. I completely believe in the power of these ideas, and I have been using them in my own life for years quite successfully. No matter how long you practice these techniques, or how hard you fight though, there are going to be times when life is just too much. I have been battling the same disease for 27 years, and there are still times when life knocks me down. In the words of Alfred Pennyworth, “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” It is not important that you get knocked down, because that is to be expected from time to time unless you are a superhero, but what is important is that you get back up. It is your resiliency to pick yourself up, rub some dirt on your wounds, and get back out there to live your life that really shows what you are made of.
For better or for worse, I got lots of practice getting back up after life had beaten me into submission at an early age. I have memories from as young as 5 years old where I would keep trying and trying to get my body to do something, but it just would not cooperate. I
would be doing something like building with Legos, buttoning my shirt, or molding Play Dough into the shape I desired, and my body would struggle and fail to meet my demands. I would fight with my body until I was frustrated to the point of tears, and my mom would have to come in to try to ease my suffering. After comforting me and drying my tears however, she would not let me give up on the task I had been struggling with. She would sit down with me and help me to devise another method to accomplish the task. This new approach usually was not pretty or efficient, but it was effective. The most important thing wasn’t that I eventually built a Lego tower though, but the life lesson this process taught me. Life is going to knock you down, and that is nothing to be ashamed of, so long as you get back up.
Even after more than 2 decades of battling with my body and this disease, there is a moment at least once a week when life lands a haymaker and knocks me down. Most recently I had my resiliency tested when I was working one night writing some posts. I had already written a lot that day, but the words were coming easily, so I wanted to take advantage of the “flow state” I was in. I started to struggle to get my hands to type the words I wanted. My arms got more and more fatigued until I couldn’t type much at all. I felt so angry and frustrated that I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but my body refused to let it happen. In my raw emotional state, I just saved the file, closed my tablet, and sat in my wheelchair exhausted, sad, and defeated. After I regained control of my mind and emotions, I was able to see things more clearly. I realized that life had knocked me down, and I thought to myself “You are a warrior. Get back up and prepare for round 2.” So, I pulled up my dictation software, and even though it is not the best method for my creative process, I finished the post I was working on. I was not going to let life beat me. I knew I was better than that. I had to get back up.
One of the ways I motivate and inspire myself to get back up is through a specific visualization. Watching WWE is pretty high up on the list of “Scott Drotar’s Guilty Pleasures.” I love escaping into that testosterone filled soap opera. In really big matches, the “good guy” will be getting thrown around and manhandled until he is limp in the middle of the ring. His opponent will put him into a submission hold trying to make him tap out, but then something happens. The crowd will start chanting the name of their hero, and as he hears their cheers he starts to get up. You can almost literally see his strength growing from their support, as he pulls himself up off the mat to win the match. This is how I think of myself when life knocks me down. I imagine myself beaten and bruised on the floor with life trying to finish me off. Then I think of all of my loved ones and supporters chanting my name. I feed off of their energy and build my confidence until I pick myself up. I get back up even stronger and find a way to overcome whatever life is throwing at me.
Now, I know that my mental imagery probably will not work for you. I was merely giving an example of how I find the strength to get back up. The important thing is not how you get up, but the fact that you get up at all. You simply cannot let life keep you down if you want to live a happy life filled with amazing experiences. By honing the other skills I have discussed you can reduce how often life beats you, but you will eventually get knocked down. This is when your true resilience will be tested, and you will see what you are made of. Will you give in and lay there, or will you find the strength to fight back? All you have to do is get back up.