I was lying on a cement floor in a jail cell, shivering in fear and shame, my mind racing trying to imagine a way for me to mitigate the situation and be able to keep my career, my clients, my home. It was late Saturday night or maybe early Sunday morning. Was I even going to be able to get out of jail and clean this mess up in time to get to work with only a day between me and Monday? How was I going to pay for this mess? How would I get to my in-person clients without a car?
I decided I had to change my body chemistry and my thoughts, or I was going to be sick on top of being in trouble with the law. My heart was pumping and my mind was racing with the same questions and fearful regrets over and over again. I remembered a yoga teacher saying that we can control our body and our mind through deep, slow, rhythmic breathing. This moment seemed like as good a time as any to give it my best shot.
I started by breathing in as deeply as I could, releasing the breath and repeating. I also decided that I was powerful enough to shift my reality. It started to work. My system was calming down a bit. Next, to change the racing freight train of my repetitive and abusive thoughts. I was 47 years old and this was not my first time being intoxicated and in a jail cell, but I decided that it would definitely be the last. And maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of a really good story and turning point instead of the day that my life was officially ruined.
We have all been in situations we knew we had messed up royally and immediately wished that we could take it all back. Maybe in a flash moment you said something terrible that hurt someone you love; or perhaps did something irreversible that you wish you could take back. Have you ever had an oversight at work that really set the whole operation back? Ugh. We have all felt that terrible feeling of “oh no oh no OH NO!!!” Maybe, like me, you have let that mistake define you. Maybe you have even let it limit you from what you would allow yourself to go after. But no more. That stops now.
You can rewrite your story and reclaim your power. The problem we have in getting past the trauma is the resistance we have to letting go of the shame. And why do we have resistance?—you ask. We are taught and trained to have resistance. The school system that punished mistakes has bred our society to shame mistakes in some barbaric grab for societal control. Lean in, I’m going to share a big secret with you (I’m whispering right now)—we are human. We mess up. Not just you, not just me. All of us! It’s part of the game on this planet, it’s how we learn and evolve.
The first step in turning your “mistake” into power is to write down at least five things that are good about the situation. So what is good about your situation? Here are some prompts you can use to get started:
- What could have gone worse?
- What do I have going for me that does not cement this as being a glaring, non-negotiable unmitigated disaster?
I’ll share what sad, cold, scared me came up with on that jail cell floor, but first let’s start with the thought process. I was petrified and I knew I was destroying my nervous system because I was in resistance. Resisting reality, I was wishing something different was happening. I was actually wishing that anything else other than me being in jail was happening. That is a battle that no one ever wins. I realized the fear was useless and needed to go.
So I asked myself the same question I am asking you: what is good about this situation? Here’s what I came up with: I didn’t hurt or kill anyone, which I could have. I didn’t destroy my car, I could always sell it and take a bus or a bike (both of which I deplore, but I had those options). I was cool with the cops, and they had parked my car at a gas station instead of impounding it (saving me money and time). Lastly, I decided that this would be a choice point in my life where I would make the right choice, I would make this the moment that I improved my life exponentially.
Here’s what I know for sure: even though you may have screwed up royally and gotten things wrong, you at least got something right. If you’re anything like the rest of us, you are only focused on your mistake, but that isn’t moving the world forward. Staying in self-beat-up mode isn’t helping you, and it isn’t helping us. This is why the question “What is good about this situation?” is so important and can start a major shift in your life that will ripple out around you.
You are here to be part of creating a better world, shifting consciousness, and changing the narrative of victim consciousness and scarcity on this planet. So we need you right now. We need you to be an example of self-forgiveness because this society teaches us guilt. We need you to be an example of responsibility, integrity, and remedying wrongs. And don’t forget—you need you! You need you to be a stand for radical self-love.
Taking the step I have outlined is the first move in the direction of creating a plan and taking control of your story and your future. It won’t get rid of the initial shitty feelings, but it will shape the way the world sees you and, more importantly, the way you see yourself. And just like that, consciousness on the planet shifts.