How to Keep Your Pecker Up When Your Hopes are Dashed

I just attended my 4th World Domination Summit in Portland Oregon, from where I’m writing this post.

I say “attended”, but actually I kind of slept my way through the whole thing. And I say “writing this post”, but really I’m fumbling around in the dark for words and hoping they make sense together.

WDS is one of those things I look forward to all year, where a combination of remarkable people, a great town and open conversation see me at my absolute best. I bloody adore spending July in Portland, laughing until my ribs ache and having conversations that challenge how I think. It pushes me, warms me and gives me so many ideas I can’t help but get excited about what’s next.

But this year, my old pal Chronic Fatigue Syndrome decided to pay me a visit and pretty much prevented me from enjoying it the way I planned to. The times I wasn’t in bed, the brain fog made it hard to distil anything but the most basic of thoughts. Food. Rest. Need pee-pee. The muscle pain has been so intense it’s felt like a building’s fallen on me. And the fatigue keeps pulling me horizontal.

My WDS experience this year has been totally different from the one I hoped for, and as I sit here in Sisters Coffee shop, my body is aching for me to close my eyes and sleep.

I tell you this not to be self-indulgent (which is about as much use as a tit on a fish), but to demonstrate that sometimes—perhaps even often—something happens to dash your hopes.

I don’t want to put a downer on your day here, but I’m all for calling it like it is.

Life doesn’t go to plan, and in those times when your hopes or plans are dashed you need to find something a little extra to keep your “pecker” up. That is to say, to keep yourself buoyed while the waves crash down around you. Here are some thoughts:

  1. You are always more than your circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you need to be master of those circumstances. Sometimes you gotta just let it be, and that’s cool.
  2. Gratitude isn’t dependent on things going to plan; quite the opposite. It’s letting go and softening into the things you can be truly thankful for regardless of how things turn out.
  3. Strength is about rigidity and struggle and only gets you so far. Way down past strength is peace, and that’s both inexhaustible and delicious.
  4. A feeling of crappiness (and man alive, does my body feel crappy right now) does not need to equate to a crappy experience. Don’t bury or filter how things are, but similarly recognise that you still get to chose to be okay or to exhibit your best.
  5. What if this was needed? What if the way things went was actually a heap more wonderful or important than you might be thinking right now? That would be something, right?
  6. The very thought that your hopes have “been dashed” is one that sets you up as the victim of something that’s been cruelly done to you. That’s bullshit of course, you’re no more a victim than you are a pentagon.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m no fucking Zen master and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been frustrated. I’d have loved to have cocktails with old friends, chat (and flirt) like crazy with new ones and exchange ideas that might just be Amazing. I’d have loved to have another “time of my life”, but if I keep those hopes close I’m only going to get more frustrated and probably more sick.

Loss is something we all feel, particularly if it’s for something we hold dear. But just the other side of that, smooshed up really close so you almost miss it, is gratitude.

So I’m going to smile deeply, because that’s really the only choice that makes any sense.

What do you do when life “dashes your hopes”?

  • Hi Steve,

    Hope you are feeling better now.

    I am going through a debt relief order now and have recurring anxiety and depression after burning out of a high pressure job over 15 years ago!

    Going to give the doctors 1 more year to sort me out and then off to Lourdes lol.

    My confidence is in pieces and has been for a while. Can you give me any tips on how to start back on the road to life?



    • Hey Phil, feeling much better now thank you. Still aching but it’s all relative!

      Sounds like you’ve had a tough time of it yourself, and it wouldn’t be right for me to advise re the anxiety and depression; those are better suited to a therapist rather than a confidence coach.

      What I can say however, is that you can totally do this. You don’t have to do it alone or pile pressure on to do it “right”, but you can totally come out of all this feeling together. feeling better and feeling ready for what’s next. Confidence is rebuilt in 2 ways. First, by getting back to basics. That is to say, by re-establishing a foundation of what matters to you and a sense of who you are right at your core – all the things that aren’t going anywhere that you can trust. Second, by beginning to be aware of the thoughts that get in the way of your feeling confident and trusting that foundation, and then beginning to strip those away.

      There’s an article here that might give you an insight or two – The The Crucible. And another that I think might get you back in the habit of being kind to yourself.

      Let me know how I can help.

  • Reading that you weren’t able to enjoy WDS as you usually do is really hard Steve, I am inspired as always by your beautifully strong, honest and insightful thoughts and words.
    I’m so sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy it, really not fair!
    Your strength and positivity is still so infectious, even though it’s clear frustrated you are.
    I hope that you are able to take some moments of magic back home with you, and that you are given some peace from pain/exhaustion very soon!

    • Thanks so much lovely (and you know I love that you called yourself Claire Bear, right?!). I did/am enjoy/enjoying myself here, just in a different way than I’d pictured.

      I *really* appreciate your thoughts.

  • Hi Steve. I am always amazed when you post are spot on. I just tried to check-in online and found I have to go to the airport and stand in line to check in. Not as big as you thing but a thing none the less. I hate standing in lines. Bad military experiences.

    Anyway, thanks for grounding me again.

    Hey, I’m newly single, maybe there’ll be a cute girl in line with me.

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