Thoughts on Setbacks and Failure

Acknowledge it - no one is immune to setbacks; setbacks and failures are opportunities to learn, grow and find a better path. 

Setbacks and failures are a part of human experience - everyone has experienced such moments in their lives in one form or another: you are not alone.

Don't over-identify with failure or setbacks: just because you have made mistakes does not mean you are doomed to repeat them - in fact, you can learn from them and be better for it.

Eliminate blame; set backs are irreversible and "the blame game" doesn't do any good.

Give yourself time. Wounds take time to heal. 

Allow yourself to be vulnerable - it is okay to be imperfect; having feelings, even uncomfortable feelings is perfectly natural. 

Explore your spirituality: whatever that may look like, having a spiritual background can allow you to find meaning and strength in even the darkest times and events.

8 Steps to Help Overcome Setbacks:

  1.  Reframe "failure" 
    Instead of seeing failure as a negative thing, see it as a life-learning experience - it has been said that the road to success is paved with many failures, so we cannot succeed if we never fail.
  2. De-Catastrophize
    A negative experience is not always as terrible as it feels. If we allow the negative feelings often associated with failure to guide us, we will avoid risks and never attempt to achieve difficult goals. Although a set back is painful, recognize that you can go on.
  3. Accept Responsibility in order to Learn and Grow
    Examine the events that led up to this experience. You are responsible for the choices you make, and you can resolve to make better choices in the future.
  4. Acquire Knowledge
    Your life-learning experience may have let you know that you need to change direction, but what direction should you go? What is it that you need to do differently? What type of education might be useful for you right now? Academic? Professional? Interpersonal? Emotional? Only you know what is best. 
  5. Persevere
    Often, learning from your setbacks means changing your behaviors in ways that will lead to success, but not giving up on your goals. (Thomas Edison is said to have failed over 1500 times)
  6. Join Forces
    Talking about your experience can be very helpful. Others may be able to see the behaviors that led to your current setback or failure more clearly than you can/ They may be able to see your strengths more clearly as well. Even better, if you know someone who has recently experienced a setback, you may be able to support each other. 
  7. Set Goals
    In order to change your direction and/or habits so that you can be more succesful in the future, it is helpful to set goals.
  8. Build Self-Confidence
    Experiencing failure and setbacks has the potential to tear down some of our self-confidence. To help repair the damage, develop confidence-building strategies. 

While a setback can seem devastating, it can also serve as an opportunity. It is our failures that make us interesting people and can help us acquire wisdom. Our setbacks teach us to see life more clearly and to cope more effectively with the problems life sends our way.