Answer by Jay Bazzinotti:
I remember a day in the 1990s when I found myself looking at my computer and seeing I had just lost $280,000 in the stock market. That was pretty much all the money I had, and it was irrecoverable, With a shaking hand I turned my computer off, left work, and started driving. And driving. And driving. I had no direction. I just drove and as long as I drove I didn't have to think about all that lost money. Eventually I found myself in Mystic, Connecticut and I decided to stop in at Mystic Pizza and have a slice. I remember as soon as the hot cheese hit the roof of my mouth, the bubble burst and all those repressed feelings came flooding in.
"You fucking moron," I thought, "why did you buy that stock? Why didn't you sell it when it started to go down? Why are you so stupid? If only you'd have pulled out earlier! All that money… gone…. gone… gone…."
I almost puked up all the pizza. I was a wreck.
Later as I drove home, I realized a couple of things. The first was, I wasn't hungry and I wasn't going to be hungry. I had a good job and I would be getting paid next week. My mortgage was up to date. The money I lost was all about ego. It wasn't about my happiness or even my survival, at least not at that moment. I went home and thought about my life and not the money. After thinking about it for a long term, I decided the following:
1 Breathe – as Mr Miyagi says in "The Karate Kid", "No have breath, no have life". So keep breathing.
2. Have a big glass of water. When things are bad, water is cheap and it helps keep you healthy, and your health is your biggest asset. If you're already sick, water is one of the best medicines.
3. Go for a walk. Again, it's cheap. You don't even have to buy sneakers to walk. It clears your head, gets the blood flowing, helps your health. And the motion will give you the perception of action. You can't do everything but you can do something and this is a something you can do almost anytime, anywhere.
4. Forgive yourself. You're going to be stuck with yourself for a long, long time. So say you are sorry for the actions that made you fail or for the circumstance of failure and never, ever, ever say, "You're a moron, you idiot, you jerk" etc. You wouldn't tolerate being called names by someone else, why would you do it to yourself? Never, ever, ever cut yourself down. And the word sorry doesn't absolve you of responsibility – it's not magic. You have to resolve to learn from your mistakes and make restitution in some fashion. That means making a plan and taking positive action.
5) Forget about regret. Instead of saying "If only I (fill in the blank)" say instead, "Next time I will (fill in the blank)" You can't change a thing about the past – ever. So focus on improving your future life instead. Every single thing you do today is preparing you for the life you will live tomorrow.
6) Let the deluge wash over you and stand tall. A ship in a storm doesn't try to run from the storm. It turns into the waves and lets them wash over it. Sometimes those waves cause damage, but eventually they pass. When the shitstorm is coming, when the trouble comes, stand up tall, paste a smile on your face, and let it wash over you til it dissipates. Nothing good lasts forever and neither does anything bad and if it is bad, it's got to change. Remember: this too shall pass.
7) If you have to get angry, do it, but then get over it — and don't take your anger out on others or, god forbid, your hapless pets. Have a hissy fit, break a plate or two but when you wake up, move the hell on. It's over and too late to change the past.
8) Accept, accept, accept. Many people end up destroying their lives because they can't change the past and they can't get over the damage. You have to accept what has happened. Seriously, this may the most important of all the points (other than drinking some water). Sit back and just accept things as they are, not the way you wish them to be. Forget about silly notions like "fairness". The universe is inimical and doesn't care about poetic justice, or fairness, or right and wrong. Sometimes things happen just because. Get used to it.
9) Keep moving. As Churchill once said, "When you're going through hell, don't stop!". Sometimes motion is its own answer. Getting stuck in a rut or not moving at all is a big danger.If you do what you always did you will get what you always got, so keep moving and if that's not working, do something completely out of character for you, something random, something unexpected. You're scared? Good. If you aren't scared, you aren't trying hard enough or taking enough risks or learning something new. As Muhammed Ali said once, "Being knocked to the mat doesn't make you a failure, but staying down does. To be a champion, all you have to do is get up and fight for just one more round."
10) Let time do its healing. Everything heals. You will too.
So what did I do after losing all that money? I bought a vacation house. By doing that I scared myself into taking action and I also signalled to myself that success was still possible, that there was still hope. Not long after my disaster, I took another job. the new company got bought and I made millions.