When you were little, life was exciting. Those first tentative steps as a toddler soon became an adventure as you ran around exploring your world. Before long, you were enrolled in kindergarten, then grade school, high school and on to college.
Excited about all the possibilities, you set out to conquer the world.
Then life hit. Others got the jobs you wanted. College debts mounted and your first paychecks barely covered the rent. Relationships you thought would last ended with bad feelings and the hope for marriage and family evaporated.
Each time we get knocked down, it becomes harder and harder to get up. The goals and aspirations we had are abandoned. Obstacles become impassable roadblocks or dead ends, and our enthusiasm and excitement for the future vanish like early morning mists. Instead of possibilities and promises for a brighter future, we feel discouraged and dejected.
It’s hard to remain motivated when everything seems to constantly be going wrong. Instead of seeing the successes we have had, we only see failures and disappointments.
When life hits hard, we are faced with asking the tough questions:
Is this really where I want to be?
Is there anything positive I can take away from this?
7 Ways to Turn a Major Setback into an Advantage
1. Leave Old Baggage in the Past.
We leave home carrying a lot of baggage of unresolved disputes, negative messages and hurt feelings. This baggage will continue to trip us up until we take the time to reflect, work through troubled times and let go of hurts and past grievances.
As we look at events and people who had an impact on us growing up, we can make a purposeful decision to let go and leave it in the past.
Sifting through our memories reminds us of the times and people who encouraged and believed in us. We want to take these nuggets of optimism with us moving forward.
2. Let go of Grievances.
There are no perfect childhoods or perfect parents. We will encounter individuals who are troubled, struggle to survive and lack the skills to encourage and nurture.
However, our past does not define who we are unless we allow it to.
As we work through the difficulties of earlier times there will be a tendency to hang on to resentments, unfairness or ill-treatment. We do that to our own detriment.
Hanging onto grievances is like drinking toxic acid every day – it gradually eats you up. Forgiveness is for you.
3. Ask the Questions: What is working and what is not working? How do I spend my time?
We hear a lot about time management and struggle to put a reasonable plan in motion. Record your daily time schedule for each day for one week, starting from when you get up and when you go to bed. Then put together a new schedule that includes time for fun activities with family and friends.
4. Recognize Critical Self Talk and Replace.
What messages from your past continue to persuade you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?
Recognizing critical self-talk enables us to challenge irrational thinking and biased core beliefs and replace with encouraging constructive affirmations.
5. Reframe Difficult Situations.
Reframing circumstances give us the ability to see more of our current situations and maximize our problem-solving efforts. Acceptance helps us get un-stuck and focus on what we can do and look for successful outcomes. As we see more options our choices can be better attuned to win-win solutions.
6. Setbacks are Opportunities.
Setbacks give us the opportunity to stop and consider who we are. We discover more about ourselves.
- What makes us tick?
- What makes us feel good?
- What do we love to do that we have been ignoring and how can we incorporate that into our everyday lives?
- What are the values we want to live?
7. Focus on Your Successes.
What made them successful? Give yourself credit for doing a good job.
Develop a list of all the successes you have had, no matter how small. Don’t minimize the importance of anything. This helps us balance the vulnerabilities we feel.
Acceptance of ourselves, just as we are, the good and the bad, enables us to live more genuine and honest lives.
When we give ourselves the grace to fail and try again as often as it takes, we develop a bold yet humble attitude that allows for stumbles, falls and setbacks.
Imagine today that you are at a crossroads and are required to choose one path over another.
This is the first blog in a new series that focuses on the theme “Picking up the Pieces.” Over the coming months, you will learn how to create a new roadmap, navigate detours and roadblocks that will put you on a path of exciting new opportunities.
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