There’s an old proverb that says: “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. I love this sentiment for so many reasons and it has become a foundation of encouragement and truth for me.
I love it because, in my life, I’ve fallen many, many times. I’ve made big and small mistakes.
I’m the type of person who “runs on guilt” which means when I make a mistake I have a hard time letting it go. The reminder that, even when I fall down seven times I can still get up, over and over, helps quiet that chatter in my head that tells me I’m worthless because I’ve fallen yet again.
I love it because it reminds me that I’m not alone.
When I fall down I have to temper my embarrassment and remember that everyone falls down at some time or another. We are all in this together. Being a human being means making mistakes and, as I grow in age and experience, I know that making those mistakes boldly actually leads to personal growth. If I never get up, I never get to be renewed.
I love it because I believe in hope; the feeling that there will always be a time to rise gives me hope for the future. I know that even if I get stuck, even if I am crushed and can’t quite stand, there is hope for me. I will get there. I have the inner strength that can lift me up an eighth, ninth, tenth time; however many times it takes.
Where does my courage come from? How do I find the strength to stand?
I knew long ago that in order to be brave, I needed to be grounded. I decided to commit myself to building a foundation that, when I was knocked down, would support me in my standing back up. A foundation that comes from learning and listening and asking and getting quiet.
I decided to get to know myself.
Each person’s foundation is slightly different but there are some commonalities that bind us together as we enter times of transition. First, hearing and telling stories is vital to the understanding that we are all human beings doing our very best in this world. I started journaling when I was nine and that practice has been a joy for me. As I look back over my writings throughout the years, I see my fears, my humanity and my growth. I see that I’ve come a long way in my life.
I also make it a point to listen to other people’s stories. I value diversity and seek out books, talks, podcasts and personal stories by those who do not look, think, or believe like I do. I try to identify where my understanding gaps are and turn to a diverse community, not to tell them about me, but to learn about them. Stories are how we connect. Diversity is how we experience the fullness of who we are. When we stop talking and listen we learn so much more than we ever thought was possible.
I ask a lot of questions – of myself and of others. And, when I get the answers, I get quiet and reflect. This is how I integrate new understandings – through a meditation / prayer practice that helps me center. I rely on my breath to ground me and bring my awareness to my body.
I wonder what it is you do to help you stand back up when you’ve fallen the seventh, eighth, ninth time?
On what foundation do you stand?
What practices shore you up and lift you up?
I invite you to have a conversation with someone this week about this very idea. Find out what makes them strong in the face of adversity. And share with them what gives you strength as well.
We all fall down. It is when we stand that we can begin to live our next steps. It is in the rising that we find that we are stronger than we thought and more courageous than we knew.