When They Beat You Down

Written by Shane Ketterman

It began at an early age.  For the next 18 years of my life, I would soon learn that being different meant that you would get beaten down in just about every conceivable way.  See, when you raise yourself on the streets, come home to an empty shell, and get locked in a room for weeks on end as punishment then you tend to be a bit different.

when_they_beat_you_downIt was one of those situations where you know it’s really bad but you continue on because it’s all you know.  I call it situational ignorance. I was in survival mode for most of my life and in the brief moments where there was no fighting or domestic violence, I had moments of reprieve.

At one point during all of this, I slept in a tent in the front yard for about 3 weeks.  I could not bear to be inside any longer.  It was too painful to see my mother get beaten and when I did muster the courage to go back inside, I would put push butter knives through my door jamb so as to make my own deadbolt lock.  This way, the lunatic boyfriend my mother was seeing could not break in and harm me.

After securing the door, I used to get out my typewriter and I would write things.  I fantasized about some family I wish I had and I used to escape to far away places in my mind that were warm, comforting and people were happy.  They actually acknowledged me, didn’t yell at me, and were sober.  It was just too big for me to imagine, but I did.

Back at school I was called every single name in the book.  And because I was so terrified of loud noises, when someone would slam their locker shut, I would flinch.

The path that most people follow in this situation is most usually one that never ends up very productive or good.  They are angry at the world, full of self-pity, or just purely lost and have given up.  As I sit and type this, however, you could be sitting next to me and never have one single clue that I was raised this way.  You would never know what I had a Master’s degree or that I love helping invest in their future selves.

I learned a few things on my own while growing up and I feel that these are important skills to have.  I also feel that they are life-changing skills which can turn an ordinary non-productive life into a life where you are making great things happen.

Have you ever felt that your past was holding you back? Have you ever felt that there was something nagging at you inside and you could not put a finger on it?  Whey the beat you down, there are two options. You can choose to stay down or you can get up.  The universe really doesn’t care either way.  We want to believe it does, but you will find at some point in life that it just keeps on doing what it does.

I learned that I could not get in my own way.  Sure, things really were not that good. They were really bad actually. But what is bad? Was I going to sit around and let it rule my entire life? Was I really going to carry this around with me? What good was it going to be? Who was going to take it away?  The fact is, the only one that was in my way, was myself.  And I chose at the ripe old age of 14 that I was not going to stand in my own way.

I also learned about choices.  Every single thing you do from the minute you wake up is a choice.  We make choices to say things, do things, go places, believe in things, support things, etc. And each one of those choices has a related consequence.  Now you might be thinking, “big deal, I know this.”  But do you believe it?  Knowing about something and actually believing it are two separate things.

When you get in control of your choices then pretty amazing things start to happen.  I had to make tough choices all the time and I learned that based on my choosing, not the universe or anythings else, the outcome would be up to me to deal with.  I tend to forget this sometimes and that’s why I feel out of control.  Ever felt like nothing was going right and soon everything seems self-defeating?

As it turns out, making choices sounds easy in words but to put this into practice can be tough because not all choices are easy or enjoyable at the moment.  But you are in control.

I also learned about anchoring.  Remember that little scene in my bedroom with the typewriter?  I was happy then.  I was content.  It felt safe and good.  You can create a place like that too.  Just imagine something so great that it warms your entire body.  It could be a place, people, a memory or anything that elicits a calm feeling.  Now, when you get into a situation or tough spot, you remind yourself of that place and the response is physical and mental calming.

Anchoring is like magic on the soul.  I actually use it now for many things. And best of all, it’s fast, free, and easy relief.

I am not 100% sure how I learned these things. But for a long time I followed the typical work/life template and finally decided that it was not for me. My true purpose was to help others live and work on their own terms.  I use the things I learned and my experience to do that.  And I truly feel that had I not been given the life of being beaten down, I would not be the person that I am. In fact, I may not have the gifts to offer that I do.

Remember that you are not bound by anything other that yourself, your choices, and your ability to take action.  Circumstances may not feel as such but truly changing your life to live on your own terms can be the most amazing experience you ever have.

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Shane Ketterman

Shane Ketterman shows people how to invest in their future selves by offering work that helps them discover ways to live and work on their own terms, find their purpose, and live a better life without having to follow the typical templates. His work can be seen at


  • Excellent post. Coming from what sounds like a similar childhood, it’s tough to overcome wounds of the past. It took me a long time before I was able to drink much at all for fear I, too, might become an alcoholic. Learning that *I* get to control my life was one of the most valuable lessons I think I ever learned in therapy. :-)

  • I am strongly impressed that”Knowing about something and actually believing it are two separate things.”
    it is totally truth things.
    thanks for noticing about it by reading it.

  • Thanks for the great article and sharing. Yes, we all have choices and we need to take personal responsibility. Do not let our past hold us back from our future and potential! Thanks once again : ) Looking forward to more articles.

    • You are more than welcome Lawrence. It’s hard at first to take that responsibility but once you get in the habit of doing it, then it’s not so bad any longer – – and besides, it’s not a bad habit to have :)

  • Great post Shane, very inspirational. It certainly does seem that hardship, when we choose to learn and grow from it, is a powerful motivator for success in life.

  • Hi Shane,
    Choices are powerful & can be Life changing…..seems like you made the right ones, good for you. Thank you for sharing some of your story.
    be good to yourself

  • This was a very important article. First of all, it was honest and courageous for your to share your story. Second, it is critical for us to realize that we hold the power to choose. That shifts us from being victims to being victors. And third, the anchoring concept is brilliant. We all need that. Really nice. Thanks.

    • Thank you Galen – – I really appreciate that. I do love honesty and I guess I’ve never been afraid to share how I was raised or who I am today, it’s just never been an issue for me.

      I do love anchoring and I have to say, I have a morning routine where I use it for about 5 minutes (even before coffee) and it helps keep me grounded for the entire day.

      • An intentional routine is one of the most important things to get yourself started each and every day.

        I say intentional because many people have a routine that has developed naturally. Which can often contain very bad habits.

  • Really appreciated this post, Shane.

    It is interesting how one person can be hit upside the head by life and use that fact to excuse to live an underwhelming life, somewhere south of their potential, while another person equally hit upside the head by an equally indifferent life can use that experience to motivate and learn and rise and fashion a wholly different life than the one seemingly otherwise all too predictable.

    What makes one Indian lawyer accept the reality of discrimination and oppression and another decide to do something about it, eventually leading his country to independence from colonial rule? What makes an oppressed nobody and a Gandhi?

    I think you nailed when you said it all boils down to choice and belief. How do we make all those little decisions and what do we believe, deep down inside?

    If we get those right, the rest of our lives will never be very far from the right path we want to travel.

    Your past and what you have done since is truly an inspiration, Shane! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Ken.

      Thank you much. I appreciate it. I love your questions…and yes, what makes one person feel so angry and oppressed while others look at it and see opportunity.

      What makes us really fell any one certain way? I feel as if it’s driven by choice, belief, and all of the external programming we take in. So much of “who” we are is formed by the external relationships we have and have had…

      So the real question in my mind is, “what is the right way to feel?”

  • SUCH a powerful post, Shane – a real inspiration to read. My mantra since my late teens has been “Fall down seven times, stand up eight”.

    I’ve learned that it’s OK to be human and take a little time out when you’ve fallen over (or when the world knocks you down) to cry, lick your wounds, heal and whatever else you need… but eventually there comes a time when you have to stand up again and keep on going. It’s not always easy to figure out when that time is… but I know a lot of the time for me, it’s sooner than I think it is.

    • Hi Tanya,

      thank you for the comment. I love your mantra – I should use that one myself in practice….and yes, it is OK to be human. I write very personal articles because I’m not afraid to show all sides of myself in business. We are taught to hide away and put on a “business face” but why?

  • Some people never really learn that they always have choices. And that’s more than a little bit sad.

    I mean, we live in a world where nothing is permanent unless we want it to be. Take advantage of that fact and enjoy yourself.

  • Hi Shane

    Welcome to CYT, I thought I might get in and be the first to comment, but it looks like I’m late to the party, and your article has only been up a few hours :). Great to have you here Shane.

    I loved your story when you first sent me it, and I knew the readers would really relate to it and give you some great feedback.

    I love it when writers share personal stories, and even more so when it’s stories about overcoming adversities like your story. I think it would be so easy to go the other way and stay on the ‘poor me’ train.

    I love that you used your mind and used NLP, unconsciously, to overcome your situation.

    Thanks again Shane

    • Hi Steve and thank you!

      I truly love NLP and use it for my own coaching. It’s so true what you said about the “poor me” train and I chose to not get on that destination, because it seemed to me that the others on that train were always going to be riding to the same place.

      That’s a great analogy by the way :)

      Thanks again for posting my story!

  • Thanks for sharing your story Shane. I can totally relate to it as I had a pretty eventful youth as well. I did sort of the same thing you did. I chose to make a committed decision to not become a victim and be responsible for my own destiny despite unfavourable circumstances. We all have that option to make for ourselves.

    • Hi there Clint!

      I agree with you 100%. It’s really interesting when we just make that decision and some people wait for it to be made for them but you and I both know what does not happen. I’ll admit, there are some who have worse circumstances but no matter what, it all comes down to you and giving yourself permission!

  • Good on you Shane, I have been ‘preaching’, as a therapist, the ‘choices’ idea for many years and you captured it succinctly and show how well it can work. I too was the child of a drug addicted Mother and an absent Dad but its never what happens to you its what you choose to do with what happens that dictates your outcomes….well done mate !

    • Hey craig…thanks so much. I absolutely agree with you…it’s funny because we have to get really comfortable understanding that you cannot change the past no matter what you do…but you CAN change the’s something you have complete control over :)

  • Hi Shane, Great post and thanks for sharing your inspirational story. You are right – the universe doesn’t owe you anything and it is action followed by faith and persistence which leads to change. You could just as easily have wallowed in self-pity; but so many will be the richer that you chose not to and had the courage to change. Thanks again, Stephen

    • Thank you Stephen!

      Exactly. I see so many people that have massive potential but they are held back by a chip on their shoulder or some sort of grudge against the world. The thing is, I learned as a kid to reframe things and while it wasn’t the best, I have to admit, I had a very non-restrictive upbringing where I got to make my own decisions…and to me, that’s really not half bad.

  • What a powerful post. I like every bit of your posting more so the conclusion. Please be my mentor and coach I plead I want to succeed.

    • Thanks Jacob.

      I ended that article more as a gateway for thought. It seems that anytime I write out something new, I always end with more questions that I started with :)

      I really appreciate your comment.

  • Great post Shane. It seems that so many inspirational people have experienced extremely difficult and challenging childhoods. Look at Wayne Dyer living in a foster home.

    It makes me smile to see people like you who have made lemonade out of lemons.

    • Justin,
      Thank you. I really appreciate that. It’s funny because when people find out how I grew up, I guess I always say that I look at it as a gift. It really helped shape me and it helped keep me grounded. So in a way, I think that’s how I make peace with it!

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