These are the lessons that I learned from my brother Ron after he committed suicide due to loss of employment.
A little less than a year ago my brother Ron committed suicide after having fallen into depression due to job loss; this devastated my family. According to Healthline.com, Ron’s unfortunate situation is not all that uncommon as depression is directly connected with job loss and being stuck, especially in men because we often associate what we do with who we are. For many people, losing a job not only means the loss of income and benefits, but also the loss of one’s identity. A recession can exacerbate unemployment as more and more people suffer from downward mobility and income volatility. Job loss for people in the United States where many people’s work and self-worth are interchangeable can be an extremely traumatic experience, often leading many to despair and depression.
Ron was a blue-collar worker over the course of his entire work life, so when he lost his job at fifty-one years old he had absolutely no idea about how to get “unstuck” and start over. As a result, he exhausted what remained of his 401K over the course of six months (all the while searching for new employment and being turned down). Once the 401K was depleted and he was still unsuccessful in his quest to obtain new employment, depression set in. Depression quickly led to despair, and despair eventually led to him taking his own life.
As a means of processing Ron’s death I began to identify 8 steps that may have saved his life had he known what they were and been able to implement them. Here they are, I hope that they are helpful to you or someone that you love:
8 Steps to Getting Unstuck in Life
1. Reach Out
One of the key lessons that I learned from my brother’s situation is that, when a person is stuck in life he or she has to begin to reach out to others no matter how humbling or shameful an experience it may be. This is critically essential! It’s also imperative that you always have someone in your life that you can talk to at any time and about anything, without risking fear of being judged or having your personal information shared with others.
2. Reach Up
I believe that every human being, regardless of their intellectual ability and willpower has a breaking point that they can reach when life begins to squeeze in on them. When that happens, life will require them to seek help from a power greater than themselves for wisdom and strength. I personally choose to call this power God, although you may have a different name for it and that’s fine.
3. Reach In
When you begin to search your soul you have to ask yourself some questions, and you have to be rigorously honest with how it is that you answer those questions. Lying to yourself while reaching in will only strengthen the conditions that have you stuck right now. The truth is not always easy for us to tell ourselves, especially when we may be somewhat responsible for our stuck condition.
4. Refuse to Simply Exist Any Longer
Literally everything that’s within the fabric of your existence as a human being has to begin to rebel against everything that you were conditioned to be over the course of your entire life. When the thinking changes, the actions will follow; this is imperative to getting unstuck!
5. Reprioritize Your Life
The first step to reprioritizing your life is to determine what the most important things are to you right now. Make sure that you take a few minutes to think about this before you write these things down because this is also a very critical step. The things that you identify will likely be those things that you draw the most strength from to push you forward, far above and beyond the obstacles that will be a part of your journey on your way out of being stuck.
6. Reinvent Yourself
Reinvention is not about starting from scratch; quite to the contrary. It’s actually about taking something that already exists and refashioning it into a better, more efficient, productive and useful version of what it previously was. When you think about your own life and who it is that you are at this point, you have to begin asking yourself questions like: What do I bring to the table in terms of my gifts, talents, skills, abilities, and other key components of who you currently are.
7. Be Realistic, Do the Research & Refocus
When I speak of being realistic, what I’m actually saying is don’t set yourself up for a setback all over again. It’s imperative that in the research and refocusing stages you choose something that you’re not only passionate about, but also something that you have the ability to do and do well.
8. Run with Everything that you Have In You!
Once you’ve done the hard work of getting unstuck and preparing yourself, it’s time to run! When I speak of running I’m talking about digging deep down into the innermost parts of your being and finding the power and the courage to now go after your new vision with everything that you have inside of you!
So then, these are the 8 Steps to Getting Unstuck in Life that my brother taught me in his death. I now share them with you with the hope that they might be your staircase up and out of any overwhelming situation that life might cause you to get stuck in. Keep moving forward and don’t ever stop no matter what; don’t ever stop because no matter how hard it gets, life can still change for the better!
“In 2013, men had a suicide rate of 20.2, and women had a rate of 5.5. Of those who died by suicide in 2013, 77.9% were male and 22.1% were female.” — American Foundtion for Suicide Prevention
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