After my divorce, I was at the lowest point of my life.
I had gone from married, professional and homeowner to divorced, jobless and homeless. (To clarify, I didn’t find myself on the streets, but I didn’t have a permanent address, either.)
The past few years involved a slow and steady journey to rock bottom. And in this place, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
I was in my mid-30’s but I felt like I had lived a lifetime, like there was nothing more to look forward to.
There seemed like no hope in the future. I lost all sense of meaning for my life. I lost my direction and purpose and felt ashamed that this marriage had not worked out.
I felt like a feather in the wind; a tree in the midst of a violent tornado; or a villager in a remote community near a sleeping volcano that had suddenly became active.
Questions plagued my mind; who am I, why am I here, what’s the point of going on?
I ruminated on these questions for several months and years after my divorce.
What I’ve come to learn, nearly five years later, was that this experience was not the end, but the beginning.
I ended a life that wasn’t mine and created an authentic life that was mine.
I let go of unfulfilling careers and jobs and found work that lights up my soul.
I work on my passion every day. I have room and space for people I really enjoy spending time with. My priorities are clearer and I know what matters now.
If you’ve hit a low point in your life, you, too, can start over.
You can come back no matter where life or love has left you. Here are 10 ways how:
1) Grieve and forgive.
Talk about what happened with the people you love or with trained counselors. Share your feelings with others so that you can reduce the heavy burden of carrying them around. Reach out to loved ones who can support you and be there for you.
Work on a forgiveness practice when you’re ready to let go of the pain and resentment. Start by forgiving yourself and those who hurt you in small ways, and build up your forgiveness habit to involve graver offenses. In the process, forgive yourself for any faults you might have had or mistakes you might have made.
2) Tell a new story about your past.
To let go of the past, you have to intentionally bring yourself to the present moment. Work on a mindfulness practice or a meditation practice that will bring your focus back to today and not to a time that’s no longer here.
Start observing yourself when you drift into the past, and allow yourself to be there for only a limited amount of time. Your past may seem more sentimental and favorable than it actually was. Or it may seem more painful and hurtful than it actually was. Either way, the past doesn’t exist in the present moment. Living there will only rob you of your life today.
Try telling yourself a new story about the past. Instead of heartache and tragedy, tell a new story about learning and growth. Instead of focusing on the pain, keep your focus on the good that came out of what happened.
3) Get clear on your “why.”
As you’re building a new authentic life for yourself, become clearer on your reason for being. Discover the reasons you were put on this earth.
The good news is that your past circumstances likely have the answers you’re looking for. In the pain and in the low points are the reason for your being. Your past has the seeds of your purpose; your task is to discover what that is.
Once you discover and acknowledge your purpose, you can start living it more in the world. If your purpose is to empower people, you can do that. If it’s to heal people, you can do that more consciously. If it’s to spread a particular message, you’ll be able to do that now.
Find the “why” in your pain. What is the message your pain has for you?
4) Acknowledge your gifts.
You know those things you’ve been complimented on and encouraged about your whole life? Well, now is the time to acknowledge and accept them. Those talents and skills are your gifts.
You have a gift. We all do. Your gift may be something that you think is commonplace or mundane, but it might feel that way to you only because you have this gift and don’t think much of it. It could be an ability to make people smile, an ability to write poetry, to teach or inspire others.
Knowing your gifts and talents will help you start over and get more purposeful in life. Your gift is essential to your purpose in this world. The more you hone your gift and pursue it, the quicker success will find you.
5) Have a vision for an authentic life.
The life you’ve had until now hasn’t worked out as you’ve desired. Pain, heartbreak and tears have filled it. Dead ends and rock bottoms have filled it.
The one good thing about starting over is that you can create the authentic life you desire. At this place in your life, you can let go of circumstances and pressure and simply start anew.
While you’re here, imagine the life you want. What would your new life feel like? What would it look like? Draw out this picture. Sketch it out or write it out. Think about it and visualize it. Feel the life you imagine for yourself.
Once you see the life you desire, you’ll know where you’re going and ideas on getting there will inspire you.
6) Build new habits.
The secret to life and achievement really isn’t a secret. We just forget about habits because they are so trite and boring. Unless, of course, you want to achieve big things.
Every great thing in the world is the result of someone doing it slowly and regularly. Great athletes don’t become overnight sensations: they’ve spent their whole lives building habits. It’s called practice in the world of sports.
Whatever it is you want to do, break it down to the smallest action and do that regularly. Do a task that you know you can complete every day. Continue doing it daily until it becomes a habit you can’t live without.
Move closer to your new life by using the building blocks of habits.
7) Work on the inside.
Success and happiness are an inside game, not an outer one. Yet most of our lives we spend 90% of our time pursuing external happiness and seeking outside success.
Now that you are starting over, switch it up. Create time for your personal growth. Find healing and cultivate love within. Create space and freedom from the inside out. Slow down. Say “no.” Breathe.
Find tools to help you stay centered and balanced. Try yoga, coaching, therapy, journaling, meditation, Rreiki and other energy tools to help you feel more rooted in yourself.
Build your better life around what’s important to you and what you value. Let go of being busy for the sake of being busy.
8) Challenge your beliefs.
You need to shake up those beliefs you’ve been carrying around for a lifetime. Holding the same old tired beliefs will keep you stuck where you are in life. Old beliefs are a heavy anchor that will prevent you from creating the new life you desire for yourself.
To recreate your beliefs, you have to recognize what your beliefs are in each area of your life. Look at your opinions, feelings and attitudes about each area of your life. You can’t change your beliefs until you recognize your internal repetition of those beliefs.
Once you see a belief clearly, poke holes through the old belief. Why doesn’t it hold up? Why isn’t it true? What is true for you?
Journaling, once again, can help with shifting beliefs. Affirmations are also an effective way to adopt new beliefs in your life, as are the emotional freedom techniques.
9) Stay true to yourself.
It’s time to let go of trying to please others and living for the sake of other people. If you’re like me, you might have tried to follow the known path most of your life only to realize that the known path is not the right path for you.
It’s time to let go of what others think, what others want and who you’ll make happy. At the end of your life, if you don’t want to feel regret and like you lived someone else’s life, you have to stay true to yourself.
To stay true to yourself, you have to do the work to figure out what you want. What will make you happy? What will fulfill you? What will bring you happiness? Identifying your values is a key first step to living a true and authentic life.
The second key way to stay true to yourself is to let your intuition guide you. Listen to yourself – you have all the answers, although your fears and doubts often drown them out. You have the best answers for your life.
10) Move towards a new life.
You know those gifts we talked about earlier? Those special and unique talents you possess? Spend your life working on them. Cultivate them – put those skills and talents to work. Pursue your dreams and work on your passions daily.
Move closer each day to the life you desire by taking action on what it is you desire. Set up goals if you think it will help you get closer to your dream life. Or work on daily habits to help you get there. Or simply work on one or two things daily that bring you meaning and joy.
While you should have a picture in your mind and a destination in terms of the life you want, you can spend every day living that life, even today.
You get to the authentic life you want by living the life you want every day.
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