Why it’s important to pick yourself up after a knock

It is possible to cultivate resilience, but can we really bounce back from most of life’s major setbacks? Psychotherapist Abigail Eaton-Masters, who specialises in ‘bounceology’, believes that we can


Why it’s important to pick yourself up after a knock

Is it possible to bounce back from anything – no matter how bad?

Yes! I have worked with people who have experienced war zones, financial ruin, been lost in grief or have had their homes taken away from them. It can be hard for some to believe that you’ll ever come out of it alive, but if you can search inside and dig out a grain of hope that it could get better and that you want things to improve, then you’re already on the right path.

The first step in bouncing back is to tell the story out loud and be heard by someone. This enables you to let it go; to experience feedback and move forward. I’ve especially found that women with stories of abuse bottle up their violations and internalise them, which affects their beliefs and how they perceive the world.
Why can bouncing back be so difficult to do?

As human beings, we’re so good at telling ourselves the story of ‘what has already happened’, that there can be a tendency to get stuck in reliving the event or expecting more of the same to come. This is especially true when we allow these thoughts to stagnate rather than be released.

Imagine sucking on a slice of lemon. Notice how your eyes may squint, the corners of your mouth pull in, or your mouth watering at the thought. The same applies with anything that you think of; there’s a physical and emotional reaction. So if you are consumed with thoughts of whatever has happened to you, then it can be difficult to see through to your truth of now as on some level, you are reliving the event every time you engage with it.

Why is it important for us to pick ourselves up and move forward after a setback?

Simply because life is for living. I know exactly what it’s like to get lost in a story of despair and depression, to feel worthless, with no meaning or purpose, but if you don’t pick yourself up, nobody else can do it for you. If you want things to change, then it has to start with you. Nobody can rescue you – you have to be your own hero. Feeling empowered and uplifted is a feeling you can claim – you just have to be willing to start. The question is – are you willing?

What’s the best story of resilience and bouncing back you have encountered?

I feel honoured to be part of a huge bounce-back movement, where I get to witness many people change their stories of woe into ‘wow’. Nailing it to one story is impossible, but I love to read about well-known people who have encountered trauma or hardship, and are now doing positive things in the world. For instance Jim Carrey, Will.I.Am, Oprah Winfrey, author Kris Carr, and life coach Anthony Robbins all have experienced traumatic events and are now wildly successful and have a practice of giving back.

Abigail Eaton-Masters is a psychotherapist and media psychologist, specialising in enabling people to bounce back in life and business. To see Abigail interviewing successful people on their amazing bounce-back stories, see abigaileatonmasters.com

Photograph: Corbis