How to Start Over

Here are five tips on how to start over, inspired by my work with men who are overcoming addictions. They lost everything, and are rebuilding their lives from scratch.

Whether you’re starting over after a relationship ends, a business folds, or a house gets burned down (my mom lost everything last week in an apartment fire) – these tips will help you get from Point A to Point B.

5 Steps to Starting Over

Let go of the past, and accept your reality. The first step to starting over is deciding that you don’t want to stay where you are. If you keep one foot in your past life, you’ll never be free to move forward. This seems like a simple tip on how to start over, but it is the most important one! We tend to live in the past, and this holds us back. If you’re stuck in an old relationship, read how to let go of someone you love.

Grieve your losses. My mom has struggled with a mental illness (schizophrenia) for all of my life. I have almost no other family – I share a bit of my story in How to Live With a Broken Heart. Last week, my mom started a fire in her bed, and her whole apartment is gone. The five apartments around her were also burned up. Thank God she is alive and nobody else was hurt! They were hospitalized for about a week – my mom the longest, because she tried to put the fire out with her bare hands. This is very difficult for me, even though I’m not the one who has to start over. My past is gone – all the photo albums, school momentos, links to my grandma. For me, learning how to start over is emotional. I am grieving the loss of the meagre ties to the past that I had. My mom is starting over in very practical ways, but I don’t think she will grieve her loss the same way.

Connect with people who lost everything. Most of the men I work with have nothing, because they drank and did drugs and ran everyone out of their lives. They drove everyone and everything good away, and they are learning that starting over isn’t something they can do alone. They need each other, they need to build community, they need to connect, and they need to learn how to start over in solidarity with others who are in the same boat. If you’re starting over, who has your back? Who do you trust, respect, and love?

Learn different ways to start over. Some of the men in our program are reconnecting with God, while others are re-evaluating their careers. Some men know exactly where they want to go, and others are scared to leave the building. There are so many different ways to start over, and how you do it depends on your personality, lifestyle, family, education, family situation, and strengths. The exciting thing about starting over is that there is no one formula, no one way to be successful! You are free to make it up as you go along. If you’re 40, read about starting over at 50 by identifying your assets.

Remember that it’s a process. Learning how to start over takes time – it’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight. I thought I was the master of starting over. I’m the Bounce Back Babe, after all! But my mom’s fire has really thrown me for a loop. From it, I’ve learned that no matter how many times you start over, it’s always painful. And it always takes time. It’s like a butterfly wriggling free from the cocoon…it hurts and it doesn’t happen overnight, but the end result might be more amazing than you could ever imagine.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell.

What are you starting over? I welcome your thoughts on how to start over in your career, relationship, family, or a new city.

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