When was the last time you got blind-sided by life?
It’s very helpful to note what sorts of incidents come to mind when you’re asked that question.
Does your mind search for the biggest personal and/or professional catastrophes you can recall? Or do they all feel big? Do you have to go back very far? Or do you feel blind-sided pretty often, such that you have an example from just this week? Those questions let you know how vulnerable you are to feeling knocked down in the first place. If you’re particularly at risk for falling into that feeling, I definitely recommend finding some support in terms of your overall sense of security and autonomy – your first line of defense against being thrown off your game so often that you can’t really get in the game!
Do your examples tend to have to do with people letting you down? Relationships that haven’t worked out? And was the worst part losing that person from your life, or the fact that you never saw the betrayal or the breakup coming?
Is your headliner incident about a career setback? A sudden – or prolonged and painful – financial stressor? Unexpected health challenges?
Your examples might be more in the category of unavoidable life events, such as the death of a loved one – the impact of which can surprise you, even if you thought you were prepared for it. The challenges in your past may even include natural disasters like extreme weather events, or shocks such as a serious accident or injury.
Whatever they are, these sorts of challenges knock you on your butt, throw you for a loop, and leave you stunned and stuck in an upset – sometimes for days, weeks or months. To get out of one of these temporary conditions of “blind-siditis” here’s what I recommend…
How to Discover the Beliefs Behind Your Blind-Sidedness
Once you have identified the people, events or circumstances that really rocked your world, take a few moments to do the following personal inquiry. For each case of “blind-siditis” ask yourself the following questions . For illustration, I’ll use the example of a significant other breaking up with you:
- What does this say about me?
In our relationship example, once you’ve run the gamut of blaming, shaming or (conversely) idolizing the other person, and how awful or at least hurtful they’ve been in your opinion, you’ll find it’s much more helpful to focus on what you’re saying about YOU in the background. In the breakup example, you might identify your beliefs as: “No one ever stays with me,” or “No one really loves me,” or even “Only unreliable people (or liars, or cheaters, or fickle people…pick your poison!) are ever attracted to me – I’m a magnet for them!”
No matter what your blind-siding situation is about, notice what those beliefs are, then realize they’re all just self-protective, new-action courage annihilators, designed to get you to go home and pull the covers over your head, masquerading as “the truth.” They’re just lies – kick ‘em to the curb!
- What do I think I did wrong?
This is a really predictable time- and energy-waster for most people. Our ever-analytical, disaster-prevention-oriented brains want to figure out the one totally preventable thing we must have done that caused this to happen to us! It’s a different question from the perfectly legitimate and much more useful version, “Did I overlook or ignore something helpful that I want to remember for next time? Were there clues that I missed?” The answer might actually be “No! There is nothing I could have done to prevent this.”
In our breakup example, it could be as simple as: “I forgot to stay curious about what matters to the other person, and ask questions to fine-tune my awareness of their needs and wants.” Ok, so you’re not the first person in the world who ever forgot something, and you’re surely not going to be the last! Cut yourself a little slack here – not everything is your fault!
- Do I think if I were perfect this wouldn’t have happened?
A variant of #1, this is also in a class by itself, because we humans entertain the illusion that we have the ability to prevent “bad” things from happening, if only we were smart enough, strong enough, nice enough, etc. In the breakup example, let’s say it turned out your significant other wasn’t ready to settle down, but you had been assuming marriage was just around the corner. You may realize they were giving you signals all along that they weren’t 100% sure about making a commitment. Instead of putting the brakes on and asking them about their hesitation, you had only paid attention to the words and behaviors you thought confirmed they were just as eager as you to tie the knot.
If your tendency is to think something like, “How could I be so stupid as to not see this coming?” your response to yourself asking this could instead be an emphatic, “I’m NOT stupid – I was just enjoying feeling happy, and forgot to do my homework!”
- What can I do differently next time?.
As you build resilience, you will jump to this question more and more quickly, rather than waste time on suffering and/or self-recrimination. In our example you might put up a fun sign by your front door, that you’re sure to see every time you’re on your way out to meeting someone new, reminding you that:
“I do my homework when I meet new people, so I make sure to pay attention to what matters the them, and ask them about things that matter to me. I have a right to know these things in advance, BEFORE I get into a relationship with them!”
When you know your pre-disposition to being blind-sided by certain types of situations, and the beliefs that get triggered to knock you off base so powerfully, you are in a much better position to engage your resilience and get back your power to achieve your desired outcomes.
Let me know how these steps help you next time you feel the need to bolster your resilience!
Feeling challenged? Send me your challenge or question and you can get some clarity… Loren@beingwellwithin.com