Real Stories

How to Come Back from a Setback

1. Don’t Paint Your House

Have you ever had one of those days when everything just seems to go wrong? Your car broke down, then your heel snapped while trying to hail a cab, then you spilled coffee on your shirt because you were running late to a meeting and then you ran into a clear door in front of your boss…

Yeah. I’ve been there, too.

But is everything really going wrong? Or does it just seem that way? If we isolate each one of these unfortunate events, they’re just simply that. Unfortunate events.

When a single negative event occurs, we have a tendency to create a narrative about other seemingly unfortunate events in our lives until our whole life becomes one big tragic novel. Everything is going wrong. Everything is bad. Everything is a mess.

Instead, let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge that a setback happened—a bump in the road occurred, a negative event transpired—and understand that these singular events do not predict the rest of the day, month or year. The past does not foreshadow the present moment.

Don’t paint your entire house when you’ve only painted one room an unfortunate shade of green. Change the paint. You have the power.

2. Create A Judgment-Free Zone with Yourself

When a setback happens—we’ve hit a bump in the road (or many bumps) or something occurs that is far from ideal—our brains are hard-wired to focus exclusively on that negative event. This negativity bias served us well in the early years of our existence to sense danger or threat, but these days it just means we’re going around in our everyday lives with an inclination towards the negative.

So, when a setback occurs in our lives, it’s only natural to hone in on it with an acute focus. You were actually born that way. So please, I beg you, do not judge yourself for what you were hard-wired to do.

These negative events give us enough emotional turmoil as it is—there’s no need to throw judgment onto the pile. It’s how we take action after the setback that counts.

3. Find Liberation from the Past

In our past, we have memories that may hold pain, trauma, regret or fear. Due to our brain’s negativity bias, we relive those memories over and over again—each more painful than the last, as if we are punching ourselves repeatedly without room for pause or concern. We keep ourselves in our personal nightmare and those feelings can manifest themselves into seeds of doubt in everything we do. Those memories can serve as a reminder for why you can’t do this or why you shouldn’t do that or why that thing you really want to do won’t go well. Our memories become our own devil’s advocate.

But your past does not define you. The past is gone and we cannot get it back. While this may make us sad knowing we cannot change the negative events that have occurred, we can also take a great amount of liberation from that.

Your pain and trauma that left feelings of regret and fear are in the past. And while we carry the memory with us, the choice of whether or not we have to suffer is still up to us.

If we can acknowledge that our past occurred, accept that those events were not our fault and most certainly not deserved (no one deserves pain) and honor our efforts in moving forward, we can train our brain to go against our hard-wired negative bias. Choosing another way of thinking and reacting can starve the devil’s advocate (because you can refuse to feed it) until it no longer exists.

Our past shapes us into who we are, but our past does not have to define who we are.

Who we are, what we choose to believe and how we choose to react are 100% our decision.

Whatever happens from this present moment on is up to us.

4. Keep Moving Forward

Since the past is gone and the future has yet to arrive, what can we do? We have two options: We can sit on our couch and wallow in events we cannot change, or we can continue our walk forward, mindfully.

Acknowledge what has happened, accept that you cannot change it and honor your efforts in all that you do.

5. Love Yourself

You’ve got this.

Like this post? View similar content here: Why We Need To Stop Fearing Adulthood
by Cindal Ma

I’m a California-based blogger who focuses on personal growth, self-development, and the art of introspection. I hope my writing resonates with you, brightens your day, consoles your heart, sparks inspiration or at the very least, gives you a little bit of calm in this crazy thing we call life.


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