June is designated Rebuild Your Life Month. Have you ever had your life in such a state you felt the need to rebuild it? I rebuilt my life after marriage, after becoming a mom, when my husband died, when my children left home and when I moved 800 miles away and started my business. Each reincarnation of myself was precipitated by something challenging but resulted in something even better.
People often feel the need to rebuild their lives when one of two things happen: a major event such as a death, divorce or trauma, or their own evaluation that their life is not what it should be or that they are not the person they want to be. Both would be considered crises.
I love the way the Chinese represent the concept of crisis in the Chinese language. There are two symbols: one stands for danger, the other stands for opportunity. That is what I think of when talking about rebuilding your life. Something dangerous has happened, whether it’s a sudden trauma or a self-evaluation that left you feeling lost or lacking in some way. These situations can be so destructive that you lose all hope, efficacy and determination, believing you don’t deserve or are just too tired to rebuild your life.
The second symbol, opportunity, is what provides hope. Even though you have been thrown for a loop, you can pull yourself up and create the life you want. It’s called resiliency, grit and determination. The first thing you have to do is know you are worth the effort. No matter how old you are, how tired you are, or how damaged you think you’ve become, you are worth the effort it will take to rebuild your life. You deserve better… in fact, you deserve all your hopes and dreams. Repeat after me, “I deserve all my hopes and dreams!” Say it out loud and keep repeating it until you believe it. Affirm it with every cell in your being.
When people experience trauma, they tend to think it has broken them and they will never be the same again, leading them to lose hope. The truth is that you can push back against whatever happened. You can put the responsibility where it belongs, whether it’s on chance circumstances or on the perpetrator, while freeing yourself of the guilt you experience believing you may have been to blame. It was NOT your fault, no matter what you were told or what you tell yourself. You wouldn’t blame a victim of bullying for running into the fist of the bully, would you? The fault lies with the perpetrator, not the victim. When it’s a random circumstance, that’s just the unfortunate, unavoidable side to living. You must start with forgiving yourself. If you look back and think you could have or should have done something different, that’s fine, as long as you follow those thoughts with the acknowledgment that, in that moment, you did the absolute best you knew to do. If you have a new idea of how to handle it better now, then implement that new behavior if the situation arises again, but don’t judge yesterday’s behavior based on the information you have today. You are a different person today. You are worth picking up the pieces and creating the life you want.
For example, I know many adult survivors of child sexual abuse who think they should have fought their perpetrator. What that adult often forgets is just how small they were at the time of the abuse, how scared and confused they were and how dependent they were on that person. They couldn’t have fought, but even if they did, there would have been little effect. Children stand no chance in a fight against an adult perpetrator.
If you’ve realized your life isn’t what you want it to be or you are not the person that you want to be, then you need to become clear about what you want. Don’t waste a lot of time looking at the past. Hit the reset button and start living the life you want to create. In your book of life, the past has already been written. You may peruse those pages for lessons and strengths, but you don’t get to rewrite or edit them. It is healthier to get clear about how you want to write the next chapters, the ones that are to come because you have full authorship of them.
It helps to get clear on the end goal, even if you think you are so far away from where you want to be; you can’t hit a target you can’t see. What kind of life do you want to have? What kind of person do you want to be? Be sure to create both answers in a way that fills you with joy. Then look at all the behavior you’ve been using to move in that direction, as well as thinking about any behavior you may be using that is preventing you from getting there. Be really honest with yourself… lying won’t help you. Then craft the plan that can take you from where you are now to where you want to be in your ideal scenario.
No one is saying this will be easy. Rebuilding your life will require commitment, focus and lots of challenging work, but the end result will be worth it.
You may want to go it alone, but rebuilding your life can be better when you partner with others. You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group of like-minded people, work with a mentor or get an accountability partner. Don’t try to do it alone… fortify your effort with a partner or partners. Know that you are worth it and always compare your progress to where you started, not the goal and not the progress of other people. Lastly, enjoy the journey.