A life lesson from Chumbawamba

Posted on: March 13th, 2017 in mindset by Pat Mesiti | No Comments

Do you know that song, “I get knocked down, I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down” by the British band Chumbawamba? It came out in 1997. The lyrics aren’t complicated, but that song is the ultimate anthem to perseverance. The words tells us that in life we will hit obstacles, suffer set-backs – “I get knocked down,” but the best option is always to persevere and keep chasing your goals – “I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down”.

Coping with adversity

How do you cope with adversity? In my book Dreamers never sleep, I wrote about the start of my career as a youth leader. I was hardly a roaring success and still trying to make sense of the job. I had little money, a young family and we lived in a house that was tumbling down around us. My boss was anything but supportive. In fact, he delighted in my misfortunes. However it was during that period of my life that I made a crucial decision. I refused to feel bitter, especially towards my miserable boss.

Dealing with life’s setbacks

Life’s setbacks are often the result of someone hurting you, but be careful not to leave the hurt to grow inside you. If pain festers in your heart then it will then turn into resentment and bitterness. With bitterness comes negativity and usually a highly critical attitude. Your relationships will suffer, because you are more focussed on your own hurt than the people who love you. Bitterness is a cancer of the soul. It is fermented hurt. Often an individual feels bitter because the perpetrator has not been punished for the hurt he or she caused. Or perhaps the individual feels that someone has unfairly taken something and there is no means of getting it back. Bitterness is often accompanied by a pronounced sense of injustice. But bitterness does not heal the original wound. Instead, it is a secondary-infection that spreads throughout our entire soul.

Freeing yourself from bitterness

How can you free yourself from bitterness? Of course you need time to grieve for your loss or injury, but there also comes a time when you need to get on with life. The first step is to forgive. That doesn’t mean forgetting that you’ve been hurt but you do have to let go of your desire for revenge. You have to take the focus off the person who originally hurt you, forgive him or her and then focus on yourself. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You let go of all your anger towards the perpetrator and start taking care of yourself.

Making plans for the future

The next step on the road to recovery is to make plans, set goals for your future. Perhaps you are in a position to work with the person who hurt you – maybe it’s even your spouse or a close family member. What changes do you need to make together to recover what you feel was lost? If you are by yourself, set goals to reclaim your life. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to be? The more steps you take towards reclaiming what you’ve lost, the less angry, bitter and hurt you will feel. Refuse to feel defeated and beaten, that only feeds bitterness. Instead, make positive changes. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to reclaim what you lost, then set out on a different path towards a happy and fulfilling life. But don’t give up! Remember the lyrics to that song, “I get knocked down, I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.” The less time you spend feeling sorry for yourself and the more time you spend on solutions, the less bitter you’ll feel. Hence I wrote in Dreamers never sleep, that you must never give up when facing obstacles. Challenges are part of life, but it’s how we respond to a crisis that really determines who we are. A major setback might prompt us to try something new, step out of our comfort zone – embrace a new hobby, start a new business, go travelling. Sometimes a setback can be the first stop towards a new successful venture.

Stop reliving your hurt

It is also important that you avoid the temptation to keep reliving your hurt. Don’t talk about your injury constantly to friends and family. Be mindful that you don’t spend hours, even days, thinking about your hurt. The Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote ‘Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in your own.' Sometimes in life, we do have to display courage and just get on with it.

When dealing with adversity and set-backs, I suggest first listing the difficulties you face. Next, ask yourself how you have reacted – despairingly, you’ve quit, tried to ignore them, looked for solutions, promised yourself you’d overcome? Then ask yourself what progress you have made in overcoming adversity. Finally, list ways to overcome your difficulties.

Seeking help

If you have tried everything, but still don’t think you are beating your bitterness it might be time to get some professional help. Be totally honest about where you are at. It is not weak to admit that you are having difficulties, in fact seeking help often takes a great deal of courage.

Finally, here are words to the chorus of “I get knocked down, but I get up again” It goes:

“I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down”

The chorus tells us FOUR times that when you get knocked down, you get up again. Remember overcoming any setback or hurt is ultimately about perseverance – never give up, never stop!


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


Leave Your Message