So, how should you respond to life's setbacks? Well, some people respond emotionally and end up having a breakdown; some respond physically and end up showing violent behavior; while some (don't) respond by keeping all their thoughts and feelings inside… but this is where you usually feel like you have a knot in your stomach and feel numb.
When you experience changes in your life, especially big and uncomfortable changes, it's easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. I mean, these are changes that you certainly did NOT ask for. In Al Sibert’s book, The Resilience Advantage, he illustrates the difference between a negative ‘victim’ response and a positive ‘thriving’ response to life’s setbacks.
Sadly, some people get stuck in the victim / blaming stage when they experience a setback. Instead of finding ways to properly cope and overcome these difficulties, they blame others or themselves. Sibert notes that when you put the blame on others, it becomes almost impossible to bounce back from setbacks. On the other hand, when you are able to accept your current situation and find healthy ways to cope, you become more resilient. Speaking from personal experiences, learning how to accept your current situation and find healthy ways to cope and get through it, is such a crucial skill to have in order to thrive in life. In fact, Sibert emphasizes how resilience is more important than ever in today’s world. As you build resilience, you are able to bounce back from any kind of setback and in ways that are not dysfunctional nor harmful. At this point, you are not only able to help yourself get through difficult times but you are also able to help others with their own setbacks! It’s a positive ripple effect!
5 Ways I've Learned To Overcome Life’s Setbacks:
Accept that Some Things are Just Out of Your Control.
As humans, we tend to freak out as soon as we feel like we don’t have control over something or a situation. Of course, it’s a scary feeling to not be able to predict the outcome of something or prepare for what’s going to happen next. But this mindset results in having anxiety which sets your brain up in a way of thinking that is negative and not productive. So what should you do? Well first of all, you need to accept your current situation. This is when you acknowledge that your current situation is what is and you can’t change it nor run from it. The next step is to take action instead of feeling bad for yourself. Having an understanding that things will happen in your life where you won't agree or will be comfortable with, is a great way to prepare for setbacks. I’ve learned that no matter how organized or prepared I am, I just can’t always be 100% ready or in control of my life so I need to have faith and trust God's plan. I also remind myself that I will understand why things happen the way they did later on. Just let go and leave it to God.
Adjust to Your New Normal.
As I've become older and more mature, I've realize that I need to become more open and flexible. In order to properly adjust to a situation, we need to be open minded. This is when you allow yourself to become comfortable with your discomfort. Being able to accept the uncomfortableness you are currently in plays a huge part in building resilience! It's all good character building!
Work on Creating a Positive Mindset.
No matter what life throws at you, it’s important to remind yourself that this is a time in your life where you have the opportunity to grow! We tend to think of setbacks as a negative thing but they can actually be a very positive thing in our self-development journey. At the end of the day, it really comes down to how you perceive a situation and then how you act in response to this challenge in your life. In fact, this is a great time to work on the problem-solving skills that you can, in turn, use in ANY sector of work. In sum, keeping a positive mindset is keeping a healthy mindset which results in an overall better AND healthier version of you!
Surround Yourself With Those Who Encourage, Motivate, & Inspire You!
This may sound obvious and cliche but you’d be surprised how many of us tend to shut down during these setbacks and stay closed off. I am personally a very open and outgoing person but I haven’t always been this way. I needed to be reminded over and over again that my family & friends are always by my side. Sadly, I learned this the hard way which resulted in me being diagnosed with 'Severe Depression & Anxiety'. So, instead of shutting down and suppressing your feelings and thoughts, just please talk to someone. Whether it be a parent, sibling, friend, partner, counsellor, or doctor, just telling someone how you feel can do so much. Time and time again, research has shown that expressing your feelings and letting them out decreases our sadness, anger, and pain by making them less intense. In fact, putting our feelings into words produces therapeutic effects in the brain (University of California, 2007) and it opens the door for others to help us. Remember, we can’t and do not have to do any of this alone! You are only human too!
Remind Yourself that You Are MUCH Stronger Than You Think!
Unfortunately, during difficult times, we start to create lies in our heads that result in us living in a false reality. Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher that has studied why it is important to recognize these lies that we create in our own minds. She states that we tend to live inside our heads where our thoughts fester and become so real that they become what we think is our reality. In other words, your thoughts do not exist outside of your awareness and therefore, you need to catch yourself when you are in this state of negative thinking and remind yourself of the truth; that you are much stronger than what you are facing!!! Instead of being caught in the web of anxiety provoking thoughts and unnecessary lies in your mind, re-direct your focus towards the small victories and look at how far you've already come! Remind yourself that what ever you are currently going through is actually an opportunity for you to grow your self-confidence, self-esteem, and moral values!
Besides, God only gives the hardest battles to His strongest soldiers!