Can You Come Out Of A Setback Stronger Than Ever?

January 1, 2020

Life isn't always roses. In fact, it's encountering challenging times and setbacks in life that really makes us what we are. It's not always the challenge that defines us, but how we rise to it and cope with adverse events. However, at the time it can feel just about impossible to overcome circumstances. Whether it's losing your job, a serious illness, heartbreak or another significant setback then you need a great support network and occasionally some specialist advice to set you back on the right path. So when life throws you a curveball, how do you handle it? 

Gather The Information You Need
They say knowledge is power, and this is definitely true when it comes to dealing with a personal challenge. Gathering as many facts as you can is key to making an informed decision about your next steps. Say that you have a child diagnosed with a condition such as Asperger's. Your initial reaction may be blind panic and thinking only of the limitations your family might encounter. The way out of that is to look at what the possibilities are instead. Everything from getting life insurance with aspergers to learning what kind of diet helps to manage the condition is all useful information. The more you understand the better able you are to help your child. Similarly, if you've been derailed by the pain of a relationship breakdown, taking the time to reflect calmly on the reason that relationship broke down can help you to identify red flags for when you are ready to start dating again. Whatever the challenge, taking time to gather information before having a knee jerk reaction will stand you in good stead. 

Try To Be Patient 
There's a difference between being proactive and expecting a quick fix for major problems. Transformation doesn't happen overnight, and getting impatient about the process not only makes our setbacks seem harder and longer, but it deprives us of the valuable lessons we learn when faced with real adversity too. Accept your current limitations, whether that is something like a physical injury which needs time to heal or something you can't see but feel all too acutely, like a loss of confidence after an accident or job loss. Understand that all situations eventually pass - you may feel low now, but there will be time, perhaps just around the corner, when you won't. Try to keep a sense of perspective and allow yourself all the time and space you need to recover.

Focus On What You Can Control
We expend a lot of valuable energy worrying about things we don't have a hope of controlling, like quirks of fate and the behaviour of others. But the secret to becoming more resilient about bad luck is reiterating to yourself what you can do about the situation. Say you find yourself at risk of redundancy - there’s not much control you have over whether or not your post is selected for downsizing. But what you can control is proactively polishing your CV, getting networking on LinkedIn and seeking out new opportunities. Having a plan not only puts you on the front foot, it gives you a positive focus. So when misfortune hits, concentrate on your sphere of influence. 

Understand It's Okay To Be In Pain
A lot of the mis-steps which are made come around because we can't bear to admit that we’ve been hurt. We try to put a brave face on our suffering and pretend that things can carry on as usual. The trouble is, the pressure usually finds another way to emerge in the end. And this is where we can really come unstuck, and let our bad luck develop into bad habits such as addiction, which have the potential to massively damage our lives and those of our loved ones. Understanding and processing complex emotions such as grief is key - it doesn’t make us weak and in fact, it's definitely a strength. Depending on how you feel, seeking out a support group, speaking to a trusted friend or booking in for some therapy sessions can be transformative.

Change The Narrative
Instead of calling it a failure or a disappointment, use better language to brand it a ‘curveball’ or a ‘learning moment’. Think rationally about what you can take from the situation and use as building blocks for a stronger foundation. Be brave enough to ask that client for feedback, or seek tips from the financier who said no to your business pitch. You may just find more positives than you thought, which will give you a boost, and the takeaways for things you can improve upon. Taking back control of the narrative is empowering after you've been through a tough time and allows you to use the lesson for good. 

Learn About Yourself 
 It's very hard to be enthusiastic about your life when it isn't authentically yours. Are you doing what you really want to be doing? Or are you following what others have chosen for you, or modelling your life too closely on someone else's? True confidence and enthusiasm can only come from making our own choices. Take some time to discover your personal values, and that simple exercise will give you a framework. Is what you're doing compatible with these values? If not, then it's unlikely that you will find a true passion in it. Whether it's travelling the world, starting your own business or retraining for a career that is going to reflect who you truly are, you have the power to make a change for your own happiness. 

Deal With Your Anxiety
In the aftermath of a big emotional event, it's very normal to experience high levels of anxiety, so learning some anxiety management techniques can really help you on the path to recovery. Try some breathing exercises, relaxation or mindfulness using an app, or if you can, access some cognitive behavioural therapy. It's all about finding the switch that means you can turn your worries off and live a life that's a little more free from fear. Tackling your anxiety can help you achieve a life with better emotional balance and is a useful skill to gain as you move through life. 

*contributed post*

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