How many times have you thought you won’t make it through a crisis? How many times have you thought of throwing in the towel? Life regularly pitches ups and downs at us and sometimes the downs can be very, very painful.
Well take heart. You can become one of life’s survivors, attend to your wounds and keep moving on. Here’s how.
Setbacks: what are they?
Setbacks can involve the passing of a loved friend or family member, a physical injury, death or loss of a loved pet, or a relationship or friendship ending badly or suddenly. They also include missing out on a promotion, conflict with a family member or workmate and being made redundant. Other setbacks can involve being passed over for a place on the team, financial hardship, loss of a favourite or expensive possession, and more.
If you are feeling the effects of depression, anxiety, anger or stress you are likely to have more downs than ups. How you learn to deal with the downsides of life and are able to turn them around will make a huge difference in successfully managing your symptoms. Then you can come out positively on the other side.
Ramp up your resilience
We all need to develop the resilience to bounce back and even come out on top. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once famously said “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”. All evidence shows that successfully surviving a setback gives you the mental toughness and know-how to cope if something similar happens again.
When a setback occurs you have two choices. One is that you can ‘go under’ by becoming emotionally distraught and feel trampled on by life. Be very careful or this can result in you developing a victim mentality.
Your other choice is to take the attitude that a setback is only temporary, you can overcome it and better things will lie ahead. With this approach you are much more likely to bounce back. What do you usually do?
Some do’s and don’ts to survive setbacks
Choose to be a fighter not a quitter. You need to choose whether to just give up or to persevere against any setbacks that occur in your life. Gather your strengths, both physical and emotional and accept any help that you need. Push back!
Look objectively at what has happened. This can be difficult if you are highly emotional about what has happened. Talk it through with a trusted friend or colleague who is not emotionally involved in what has happened and listen to their thoughts or ideas. These are likely to be more practical and realistic than your emotionally charged responses. Take a step back.
Are you making a mountain out of a molehill? Remember sometimes anxiety can magnify a problem and the setback may actually be less of a problem or easier to overcome than you first thought. If it is really bad, get professional help. Put things in perspective.
Take rational responsibility. Don’t become a martyr or victim and take it all on yourself if this isn’t appropriate. Simply acknowledge to yourself your part in what has happened and move on. Rise above the problem.
Don’t play the blame game. This can permanently sabotage a relationship if the other person feels unfairly blamed or that you haven’t fully considered their side of things. Come to terms with what has happened and start planning what to do next. Facing things objectively will help. Think back on what has worked for you in the past and use similar strategies to help overcome the current problem. Utilise past successes.
Don’t be too proud or embarrassed to ask for help. Some people think this is a weakness when it is actually a clever and strong thing to do. Others feel bad about ‘burdening’ friends or family with their problems. Interestingly, most people actually want to help. How would you feel if the situation was reversed and a close friend or family member was in trouble and didn’t feel able to ask you for help? Also others may have been in a similar situation and will have useful advice to give you. Get over your ego.
Don’t beat yourself up about what has happened. Most of us don’t deliberately create setbacks or unhappy or difficult situations. It is very hard to be perfect and not realistic to try too hard to be so. Remember you are only human.
Don’t live with regrets. Life is too short for regrets so be prepared to let the negatives go. Work out what is really important to you and head in that direction. Just keep moving forward. Look for life’s promise.
If you successfully push through, you will have faced the setback, done something about it, accepted necessary help and moved on past it as well as you can. You will actually feel good about yourself.
You will have turned the downside up to become a setback survivor!