Does it always feel like just when you’re starting to get somewhere in life something happens to knock you down? You feel like you’re literally taking one step forward, two steps back. I used to feel the same way. That is until I realized overcoming life’s setbacks was all a matter of changing my mindset.
When I was young I used to freak out whenever something bad would happen. I would become paralyzed by my own fear and frustration. It seemed like every time I had a setback I would never be able to recover. It took me a long time to realize that I was the one who was creating the struggles in my life. Not the other way around. When we realize we are in control of our own happiness that is when real change can happen.
What is the Key to Overcoming Life’s Setbacks?
Honestly, the key to truly overcoming life’s setbacks is a total change of mindset. The first thing you have to do is identify the behaviors that exacerbate the problem. And then you have to identify behaviors that can make the situation better.
Behavior That Makes a Bad Situation Worse
- Feeling sorry for yourself: What exactly does this accomplish? Absolutely nothing. It just keeps you in a failure cycle and prevents you from growing beyond your problems.
- Focusing on the negativity of the situation: Doing this is very self-defeating. How does dwelling on negativity help you? It doesn’t. It just makes you want to give up when anything bad happens to you. Focus on the blessings in your life and realize this is only temporary.
- Staying stagnant: Not addressing the problem at all and just going about your life like this is just your lot. Thinking you are just doomed to always have problems. And nothing will ever get better. TAKE ACTION!
- Self-sabotage: Often setbacks in our life are because of this. We self-sabotage whenever we think things are going too good and we believe we don’t have a right to be happy. This mentality is insidious and sometimes difficult to spot. I’ve done this myself.
- Pushing those who care away: This can go hand-in-hand with self-sabotage. When we don’t feel like we deserve to be happy we often push those we love away. The very people that can help us out are usually the ones closest to us. This is a form of pride.
- Blaming others: Always blaming our problems on someone else is a deadly trap. Yes, there are times when people can do downright evil things and we are not to blame for their actions. But oftentimes we are the ones who put ourselves in a position to be mistreated. (Not always. Abuse is never justified! And never the victim’s fault!)
- Turning to people who enable you instead of challenge you: You know who I’m talking about. That one person who you turn to. You know, the one who always says, “It’s not your fault”. No matter what happens they always tell you it was someone or something else’s fault that that bad thing happened to you. They are not your friend. Otherwise, they would call you out if you are responsible for your setback.
Behavior That Can Improve Your Situation
- Taking a moment for reflection: Take a moment and breathe/pray. Analyze the situation before taking action.
- Taking action: Start brainstorming ideas to fix the problem. Get creative!
- Counting your blessings: Realize that this is a temporary situation and it does not define you or your entire life. Think about all the blessings you have in your life, no matter how small.
- Asking for help: There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes our setbacks are too big for us to handle alone.
- Taking accountability for your role in your situation: Think about how you may have advertently or inadvertently caused the problem. If you didn’t have any role in causing the setback, great. But you need to acknowledge if you did so you can learn from the situation and avoid it in the future.
- Acknowledge this is only a temporary situation: Realize that this is not a permanent situation. It is only a bump in the road on your life’s journey. It should not define your existence.
- If you are married, work together on the problem as a team: You are a team. Don’t fight each other, fight the problem. Remember, it’s you and them against the world baby.
Steps to Deal With Roadblocks in Life
We know that there are always going to be setbacks in life. So, what steps can we take to solve our problems and get through the tough times? You have to have a game plan.
- Take accountability for any role you played in the setback: this will help you avoid the same problem in the future. Look for patterns in your behavior.
- Is this setback something you can fix or is it something you have no control over? (be honest with yourself here)
- Brainstorm action steps. Will the situation get worse or better if you take appropriate action?
- Do you need backup? Is it time to admit you need help? There is no shame in asking for help.
- Talk to someone who’s been in a similar situation. How did they handle it? What was the outcome?
- If it is a financial problem or a legal one? Seek help within your community. There are many resources out there for people in bad situations. You are not less of a person for needing them.
- Once the problem is resolved, look for ways to avoid the situation in the future. (This is where you can turn an obstacle into a learning opportunity). You can also be a resource to others who might face the same situation.
The Power of a Positive Mindset
I have learned that the only constant in the universe is change. And the sooner you learn to adapt to that change the happier you’ll be. Learning to roll with life’s punches can only strengthen you as a person. Yes, it can be exhausting at times when it seems like you’re taking hit after hit. But as long as you keep getting up. You will realize these moments can often make you appreciate the sweet moments in your life even more.
Our Bump in the Road
The day I am writing this something happened that inspired me to share this topic. Our water heater went out. It wouldn’t have been that bad except it had apparently been leaking for quite a while. And we had chalked up the excess water on our entry floor mat to the huge amount of rain we had gotten the last few weeks. You see our water heater is in the closet right next to our front door. Two days in a row I noticed the front mat was wet. I dried it out and wiped up the water, thinking it had gotten in because there is a slight gap under our door.
Well, today I noticed it again only this time I pushed down on the wood flooring and water squished up. That’s when I realized this was not from the rain. So I opened the closet door. Low and behold the floor was covered in water and the tray was overflowing. And the previous owner of our home had not properly installed the overflow pipe. So it was pouring out onto the floor.
A few years ago I would have freaked out and would have felt utterly defeated. But now I am much better at overcoming life’s setbacks. I took a breath and got Aaron. We discussed what to do first and took it one step at a time. And you know what? It’s getting taken care of. We called our family to help get the water heater out, discussed a game plan, and it’s getting fixed. It’s not the end of the world.
Growth by Overcoming Life’s setbacks
I firmly believe if you use the tips I’ve listed above to help you, you will have a happier life. Looking at setbacks as an opportunity for growth is truly how I have handled some really bad stuff that has happened to me.
Just remember, the next time you face a setback:
- Take accountability for your part
- Take action
- Ask for help
- Remember your blessings
- Learn from the situation
A growth mindset is the result of realizing you have something to learn from every situation in your life. It’s knowing you are a constantly evolving person and that you can only thrive from overcoming obstacles. Never facing adversity is a sure way to stay stagnant. And let’s face it, life would be pretty boring if it was always smooth sailing.
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