Nobody likes to fall. Of course as babies, when we are learning to walk, falling is a fairly regular part of the process. We must learn the art of balancing as we become familiar with the rhythm of movement. Eventually we get the hang of it and walking, even running, become like second nature which we do almost automatically.
But then we still fall. We lose balance, we trip, we slide, or perhaps move off too quickly and our painful connection with the pavement or floor can actually tell us something. Falling is never permanent. The embarrassment and pain we experience is transitory. We either pick ourselves up independently or we’re helped up by a friend. We brush ourselves off and move on again. The point is that falling causes us to rise. We don’t go further down into the ground; the next movement after falling is usually up.
When we are confronted with the challenges of our own mistakes and failings it’s important to understand that our next movement must be “up” because actually, after falling, we do have a choice. We could stay put. We could wallow in our pain and discomfort and refuse to move for a while. Eventually, however, we will reach a stalemate and will need to choose to move on. Why then do we hold on to painful mistakes or even things done to us and refuse to let go of them?
Sometimes sitting down in our pain is the easy way out. It requires little effort. I’ve seen individuals who have held on to hurt others have caused them and it usually stunts their own personal growth. Imagine wrapping your arms around anything that’s really big; maybe a big old tree or a huge piece of furniture. That thing will hide you and dwarf you, even as it becomes your prop. It will appear larger than you are because your actions have made it so. The same happens with bitterness and unforgiveness. Failure to “fall up”; to get up and move on and away from hurt and pain will do the same to us. It will make us appear really small. It will rob us of our joy as that thing we refuse to release becomes a self-defining and powerful stumbling block to our own progress.
Whether we fall through our own failing or are pushed by someone’s harsh action, staying down is not an option we should entertain. While I’m in no way romanticizing pain and difficulty, we must use them for times of reflection and redirection. They can, if we let them, teach us about our own resilience. A failed marriage or relationship can cause us to zero in on our own self-worth and clarify for us what we are unwilling to tolerate. A lost job opportunity can give us the impetus to improve our qualifications, start our own business or sharpen our professional skills. Of course there are no magic potions which will bring us to a place of growth. Personal development often requires a willingness not only to be self-critical but also to make the required changes.
Truly moving on from any place of difficulty can only happen after we meet certain conditions. These include acknowledging our pain, processing it, accepting personal responsibility where applicable, and forgiving both ourselves and or the individuals who have hurt us. These “upward” actions can empower us to release and move on.