The idea that you should get straight back on the bike as soon as you have fallen off is not a new one and is not without its usefulness. Things that we associate with pain and fear have a nasty habit of weighing heavily on our minds and thereby stopping us from getting on with our lives. The longer we leave it before getting back on that bike, literally or metaphorically, the harder it becomes to do so. This is because the negative feelings generated initially have had chance to establish themselves and loom large to us. We are allowing obstacles to progress to establish a foothold.
And ‘allowing’ is a key word here because it does not have to be this way. We can distance ourselves from such problems by ‘picking ourselves up’ – that is, recognising that things have not gone as we would want, but using that negativity to make us all the more determined to move forward positively in whatever ways we can.
The technical term for this is ‘resilience’, what is often referred to as ‘bouncebackability’. It relates to the way in which we have the potential to ‘bounce back’ from adversity. Life knocks us down and we pick ourselves up as best we can.
For some people it’s a case of being knocked down and staying down, being diminished as a person in the process. There may be various reasons for this, such as a lack of confidence. Sadly, it can also be the case that some people do not pick themselves up because they have been knocked down so many times that they have lost the will to get up. Alternatively, the impact of being knocked down can be so severe and overwhelming that we just do not feel capable of picking ourselves up. Abuse and other traumatic experiences can come into this category.
So, it is important not to be judgemental about anyone who does not bounce back – it is a complex set of factors that we are encountering. Making judgements about people and situations we do not fully understand can be dangerous and counterproductive.
Ideally, what we should aim for is not only to pick ourselves up, but also to learn from the experience, to come out of it stronger and better equipped for the next time adversity strikes – and, of course, it will strike again sooner or later, we all know that.
But, of course, that is easier said than done. None the less, it is still worth the effort to get the benefits that can be gained. It is partly a matter of attitude. If we approach such situations with a negative, defeatist attitude, it is unlikely that the results will be positive. However, if, by contrast, we approach such circumstances with a positive attitude it is much more likely that we will indeed secure a more positive outcome.
We can also build on our successes. A small success after one episode of adversity can give us the confidence to take a bigger step next time, and so on, steadily building up a momentum in a positive direction.
We should also do our best to avoid obstacles, not least by steering clear of people’s negativity that can drag us down. Sadly, some people go a long way to encourage negativity in others, perhaps because it makes them feel more comfortable about their own ingrained negativity towards themselves.
The more effective you become at picking yourself up after life has knocked you down, the better equipped you become to help others do the same and the more you get out of your life into the bargain.