Coping with Setbacks: Understanding, Acknowledging and Moving Forward

December 15, 2016 | Leave a Comment

by Kathy Austin, CVA

A woman sitting on the shore looking out into the ocean with a quote from Albert Einstein: "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."
 

We  all have them. We plan, execute and then, things don’t go exactly according to the well-thought-out plan. It’s called tough luck, bad luck, misjudgment – call it what you like but when it comes right down to it, it is a setback.

Those optimistic folks tell you that “attitude is everything.” You can see it in people who seem to navigate the waters better than you. Why is it that some seem to bounce back from a setback and others just can’t get past a bad event or situation?

The unique way you look at a setback, learn to accept it and move on is a process. Understanding the process can make it easier to go on. I won’t deny it, it takes courage, support and honesty with yourself.
 

Putting it into Perspective

A setback can hurt a lot. You shouldn’t shy away from those feelings of loss, embarrassment or disappointment. After all, you are a person with feelings and you are entitled to them. Be patient and give yourself some time to grieve. As time goes by, many things don’t look as bad as originally thought.

I think we all have heard that negative voice in our head that tells us how stupid we are or that blows everything out of proportion. Stop that negative diatribe in your head. Be kind to yourself! If someone you know did something wrong, would you beat them up as badly as you are in your own mind? No! Exchanging the negative self-talk with positive suggestions will change the way you feel.

Acknowledging the misfortune is where you have to be honest with yourself and say “Okay, this situation isn’t good, but I will deal with it.” Sometimes we blow a situation out of proportion and make it more than what it really is, so be realistic and try to view the problem as objectively as possible.
 

Getting Back on Track

Setbacks are often things we cannot control, but that’s not to say that we don’t have any control at all. Focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot.

This is also the time you’ll want to think as objectively as possible on what has happened. What are your options? Is it time to give up on your plan and make a new one? These are questions you’ll want to think about to help you move forward to overcome your challenge.

Finding support with other people who have experienced similar challenges can be a source of comfort, advice and understanding. A sympathetic ear in someone who has met the same challenge will give you courage to step out of your comfort zone and face the fear of moving forward.
 

Reflecting on Your Triumph

What’s that saying about doing the same thing and expecting a different result? Make sure to take time to reflect on what you learned from your setback. Then, when you make progress thing about what did you do differently that got you to where you are now. Pat yourself on the back at each step in your progress. Finally, celebrate the fact you overcame your setback. You are resilient and have grown from your experience. Remember that failure isn’t always a bad thing. Failure is most always something we learn from.

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense.

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