There’s no easy way to start over. Whether after a relationship, the end of a career, an unexpected move, or anytime we find ourselves in a situation we haven’t prepared for, to buckle under the weight of the blow can feel like our only option.
That’s okay. To a certain extent, we shouldn’t hold back in our emotional range. It can be healthy and necessary to give ourselves room to process something in real-time exactly how we are. If we don’t, then we run the risk of masking pain or avoiding feelings only to have them manifest later on – and cause far worse damage.
But this isn’t an article about emotional processing. This is for when you reach that moment, when the tears have stopped and you’ve taken maybe your first deep breath in months, and you’re still. You’re quiet. You’re wondering how on earth something good can come next and if you should even bother hoping for it.
In a word? Yes. Yes, you should.
Here’s a secret: We always have a choice. Even when it seems like there’s literally no way ever no how it’s absolutely impossible that we could do anything to change our circumstances, we can. We can rewrite the script of the mind that says “life is happening to us” and instead say, “but power also lies within us.”
What to tell yourself in that quiet, still space to start over empowered:
“This failure can teach me.”
Most of us are pretty afraid of failure. Not that it’s ever come second nature to want to embrace our faults with gusto, but in our modern age – a time filled with PR spins and calculated retorts – it’s pretty rare to hear someone simply admit, “Yes. That happened. I failed.”
Even if you’re not starting over because of a failure you personally made, chances are it feels so devastating because you’re telling yourself that you’ve failed regardless. If you can’t break free from that cycle of thought, then engage it instead. Dive right in and own how you’ve (seemingly or otherwise) failed. Feel it. Then… realize you’re still standing. That ownership of failure doesn’t have to break you; learn from what went wrong and see “failure” as valuable knowledge that you wouldn’t have gained otherwise.
Maybe you can now recognize your boundaries more clearly. Maybe now you’ll know how to better safeguard in certain business situations. Maybe now you’ll be aware of deeper needs that you were previously blind to. Whatever the “lesson” is, learning is never bad. Even if we’re someone who hated school, we don’t need to carry that mentality into adulthood.
Maturity is learning how to bend where youth digs its heels in.
Even if you’re not starting over because of a failure you personally made, chances are it feels so devastating because you’re telling yourself that you’ve failed regardless.
“Endings are necessary.”
Things end. They just do. The reason this quote, “The day you’re born you begin to die,” is so depressing is because it’s technically true.
But again, you get to decide what you do with that information. There’s no overarching force dictating your need to obsess over that or deny it — you can acknowledge life’s movement and progression without the added weight of surprise when it’s experienced.
Of course, this can do little to soften the sting when something does end, especially abruptly. Though very natural when living in a linear timeline (Arrival plot theories excluded), endings don’t feel natural when you encounter them; it’s like your heart is synced with the harmony of a different song. That’s why the healthy emotional processing mentioned at the beginning is so important to prioritize.
Once you do that, starting over can be an incredible opportunity to claim the present moment, the chance to be keenly aware of how all anyone has is right now. When something ends, against your will or not, you’re the only one who can decide when that ending transitions into a beginning. When you’ve first allowed yourself to acknowledge that seasons (therefore endings!) do exist, you’ll have an easier time stepping into what comes after. And maybe even believing that there are greater things still ahead.
Starting over can be an incredible opportunity to claim the present moment. When something ends, against your will or not, you’re the only one who can decide when that ending transitions into a beginning.
“I get to be better.”
Metamorphosis is a beautiful, wondrous process; as human beings, we get to partake in it to the degree we choose.
What’s amazing about the future is that no one has a hold on it. We step into it in equal beat with everyone else. That means no one can tell you for certain what your life will look like, least of all who you’ll look like, if you decide to turn the page and pursue something unexpected, surprising, or fill-in-the-blank. Maybe you’ll fail at it – but we’ve already reviewed how that can work to your favor. Maybe it won’t last very long – yet again, endings are only natural.
But maybe, also, you’ll be better for it. Starting over, in any context, is ripe with possibility of sloughing off what didn’t work, what previously held you back, or stomping out fears that don’t deserve to rule you anymore. Accomplishing just one of those creates room to become a more engaged, passionate, and inspiring individual. So when life takes a turn, remember that you and you alone have the power to say, “This can make me better, not bitter.”
We may shy away from failure, but we also crave stories of overcoming. We can’t have one without the other; all it takes is the courage to try. And keep trying.