How to Get Back Up After You’re Knocked Down
Feel life’s hits, release the pain, then move forward.
Everyday teaches me something new about taking a hit from life. A wise woman I know once told me, “Life is a stick, and it just keeps on hitting you.” Never have I related more to another person than I did in the moment of hearing that metaphor.
Some hits are trivial. Today I took a hit professionally, when a competitor beat me to an opportunity I wanted for my company. Yesterday, I took a hit from myself when I experienced a moment of self-doubt about my own skill and value. Last week, I took a hit financially when I received another speeding ticket (one of several in the past few years) during my 45-mile daily commute to work.
These hits have created temporary pain points for me, but are by no means as powerful as other, more serious knocks I’ve taken in my life. Some hits — the burden of abuse, the death of a beloved one, or the tragedy of losing a child — knock you down so hard you fear you’ll never get back up. And even when you do, you’ll still feel the pain after you move forward.
Getting back up after being knocked down is something we all have to master in order to enjoy the better things that life has to offer. The world has so many beautiful parts and life is too short — you deserve to experience as much joy as you can. But the hits won’t stop coming, we know that.
You have the strength inside to keep getting up again and again. This is a truth you must acknowledge — and the most extraordinary aspect of being human.
I consider myself an avid film enthusiast, and across a vast universe of movies in my repertoire, one that will always have a special place in my heart is the Rocky film series.
I watched these films repeatedly as a kid, and love them still. After all, who doesn’t love an underdog? A character that rises up from nothing and against the odds proves themselves able to take life’s brutal beatings and come out a hero.
In Rocky Balboa’s case, the beatings are literal — he’s a kindhearted but uneducated boxer working for a loan shark who is given a chance to get in the ring with the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. I won’t spoil the rest of the story if you haven’t seen it — go watch.
What I do want to share are are three quotes from the various Rocky films that capture the spirit we all need to get back up after we’ve been knocked down:
1. “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Every single person you meet has been knocked down in their life. Without exception, every single one of us, in some way. Remember this as you take the hit that lays you out flat. Feel the hit for as long as you need to, and then release the pain — whether through tears, therapy, or a cathartic activity, let go — when you finally feel lighter, it’s time to get back up and keep living.
2. “Nobody owes nobody nothing. You owe yourself.”
Never forget what drives you to get back up. The world doesn’t owe you any favors — you aren’t owed a free pass, even if you’ve already taken more hits than what you think everyone else has experienced. Get back up for what matters to you, and because you deserve to have good things happen too. Choose yourself, and prove that you are the master of your own fate.
3. “There is no tomorrow.”
It will always be easier to give up, to not try, and to quit. You’ll get tired from taking so many hits, that staying down starts to seem like a pretty good idea. But there are no guarantees you’ll have another opportunity to get back up — don’t count on doing better tomorrow. Pick yourself up today, right now, and live your life, before it’s over.