I was a senior in high school when I found myself sicker than I ever had been before. Recently hospitalized for illness, my body and my heart (for entirely different reasons) were ravaged.
There's nothing like needing to take a nap after climbing two flights of stairs to help you realize how wonderous it is to feel good.
At the time, I laid in bed crying my eyes out thinking, "I have hit the lowest point of my life. How in the world am I ever going to get through this?"
As if by magic, an image popped into my head. I was on a trampoline. I vividly saw - the lower I went, the higher I was going to bounce back.
That image carried me through the days, weeks and months that followed. Eventually, I healed my body and mended my broken heart.
Setbacks are a natural part of life. And how we choose to navigate them makes a world of difference.
The first time I read Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements, this quote stood out to me. "Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret."
Embracing this notion, that your best changes and looks different from day to day was freeing. While I was pleased with my recovery from that time in my life, I harbored a lot of self-judgment for being so weak in the first place.
Suddenly, my perspective shifted. I had done my best. With that mindset, I was free of self-judgment.
I've had many conversations with friends and clients who have passed judgment on themselves for what they didn't accomplish in the last year. At the beginning of lockdown, they had set ambitious plans for all the things they were going to do. Over a year later, they're a bit dismayed at the progress they made (or lack thereof). It turns out that this sensation is quite common at this point and time.
Adam Grant recently published an article in the New York Times about the impacts COVID has had on our well-being.
He explains, "Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work."
Some of us are flourishing right now. Others are languishing or depressed. And many (like myself) are teetering back and forth depending on the day and the circumstances.
In order to rebound, you must recognize the impacts of your current circumstances. To be able to name what you are experiencing and how you are feeling makes the invisible visible. When you're aware of your capacity in the present moment, you're able to redefine what doing your best means then and there. Luckily, we all have the ability to possess such self-awareness.
Noticing a change in the quality of my thoughts and attitude helps me to acknowledge when I'm slipping toward languishing or depression. When that happens, I prioritize doing something to rejuvenate and restore my wellbeing. In those moments, doing my best looks rather different than when I'm flourishing, and that's ok.
Journaling has been an essential tool to habitually doing my best. Not only does journaling enable me to recognize the shift in my thoughts and attitude. But by reflecting on what restores and rejuvenates my wellbeing, I have established rebounding rituals. That means I don't need to use energy and focus I do not have to refuel when I need it most.
The first step for you to REBOUND better than before is to write ideas for REbounding rituals by reflecting on what REjuvenates and REstores your wellbeing. And if that feels like too much to do right now, perhaps you may start by taking a nap.
Want to journal but keep putting it off? Check out a Journal Jam. More information and registration is available online here.