When Your Castle in the Air is Left in Ruins

castle in the air

Sometimes something happens that seems to take the legs from under you, sends a hurricane through the beautiful dream castle in the air that you’re building and leaves it in ruins on the ground. It may be a failure, a disappointment…or even just the memory of something that didn’t work out as you wanted it to. It happened to me just last week – something reminded me of a disappointment from last year, and CRASH!

Suddenly all hope perished, all faith disappeared, my beautiful castle in the air was in ruins and all I wanted to do was sit and stare at the wall, or sleep to escape the hurt and the pain. As tempting as it is to run from this feeling, to avoid it, to stick a happy face sticker on and keep on trucking…it usually doesn’t work. I tried a couple of things from my toolkit to cheer me up and it wasn’t happening, so I surrendered to the feelings.

I lay down and I cried, I fell asleep, I stared at the wall. I couldn’t do this the whole time I felt this way, because I had clients to coach and things to do and places to be. So I did the best I could with the things I had to do…and the rest of the time I surrendered to feeling hopeless and as if my dreams had broken into a thousand pieces. Surrendering to those feelings is usually the best way through them. They pass, it’s often our resistance to them that makes them stick around for ages.

(Of course, I am not talking about deep depression or surrendering to harming yourself – if you feel like that, please get help.)

And while you’re surrendering to how you feel, love yourself deeply. Be gentle with you, kind to you, loving to you. Give yourself what you need – flowers, a bath, a nap, time to heal. Don’t isolate yourself from others unless you know that what you need most is alone time. You may need to retreat to your cave and lick your wounds, or you may need your loved ones to tell you that you’re fabulous, give you a hug and make you laugh.

Self-love is the most important and impactful thing you can do anytime you’re feeling low, and especially when you are having a total meltdown and your dreams have crashed to the ground. So love yourself deeply. Do loving things for yourself. Surround yourself with things and people you love. Do things you love to do. Be wonderful to yourself.

When you’re feeling like the bottom’s fallen out of your world, it can be hard to encourage yourself…but if you can, do. If you can’t, maybe write yourself a letter when you feel better ready for the next meltdown…because if you’re a dreamer, they’ll come. Big dreams require big faith and big belief in yourself and your dream…and by their nature dreams ask us to build castles in the air…so it’s almost inevitable that a few crashes to earth will come with that.

Here’s a little pep-talk from Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars until you get your own pep-talk sorted out. (Make sure your speakers are low if you’re in public…it starts with crowd noise!) As he says, a breakdown often precedes a breakthrough…and for me, this time, there was definitely wonderful insight that will help me to rebuild my castle in the air more substantially than ever.

One thing to ensure you DO NOT do when your dreams have crashed to the ground is to make any rash decisions. Mid-meltdown it seems like a good idea to run away, to forget your dreams, to go live as a Vietnamese fisherman or an equally grand gesture. Don’t do it. It’s not a good time to make life-changing decisions. When you’re so low that fish at the bottom of the sea would have a hard time finding you, it is not the time to make choices about your life.

Sometimes meltdowns and crashed dreams will expose something you do need to take care of…but let that decision come when you feel a little better. And you will. This latest meltdown of mine lasted 36 hours. Then I started to feel better (not ‘great’ but better than ‘fish at the bottom of the sea low’). The last ‘big’ meltdown that I remember was a few years ago, and the deep low lasted over a week.

Meltdowns pass. The feeling that the world is coming to an end passes. Our castles in the air get rebuilt…we are the dreamers of the dreams, it’s what we do. And if you find that your meltdown is lingering, get some help, support and cheerleading. Check your toolkit for the things you do that make you feel better – music, books, nature, dancing, yoga, running, friends, family…and do the things that make you feel a little better.

You don’t have to come back to your dreams until you are feeling stronger. And you will…and at that point, be gentle with yourself and your dreams – they may feel a bit wobbly and fragile for a little while, especially if you’re new to the whole dream big/crash to earth cycle. That’s ok, you may have learned something that will help you make your dreams come to pass, you may have found you need to take better care of yourself so you can make them come to pass, you may have discovered some support you need.

Whatever the meltdown brings you, even if that appears to be nothing but a tear trail and a few very bad days, it’s not always the end for your dreams. This has happened to me at least a dozen times…and it’s never yet been the end for my dreams. I simply rebuild the castles in the air from the ruins…often bigger and better and more robust than ever before.

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