How to Bounce Back After a Setback

Setback (n)

setback is an event that delays your progress or reverses some of the progress that you have made.

The way I see it, as long as we are alive, setbacks are inevitable. It takes many shapes and form – it could be in the form of a break-up, not getting an interview for your dream job, failing an exam, getting rejected via a text message, not passing your car warrant of fitness – setbacks are unfortunately an annoying part of the human experience.

Personally I think the silver lining lies in the definition – a setback merely delays your progress. There is a lesson to learn in the setbacks we experience in and our setbacks isn’t what defines us. It’s how we pick ourselves up from it that truly counts.

I’m not sure who needs to read this right now but if you’re going through a setback and feeling a bit down about it (a completely natural reaction, by the way. You’re allowed to be upset and your feelings are valid) we’ve got some tips and tricks for you:

1, Acknowledge the setback – assess the situation and acknowledge that you are experiencing something that wasn’t part of the plan, or going through something unpleasant or painful. Let that reality sit with you.

  1. Assess the situation – what makes it a setback? What happened? How did you react to it? What’s in your circle of control to help fix it? Sometimes things are beyond our control and there’s nothing we can do about it. Frustrating, I know, but also a bit liberating when you think about it. Which leads me to my next point…

  1. Be gentle with yourself. Ever heard of the expression ‘no point crying over spilt milk’? When things are so beyond your control – say you got rejected from a dream job and there’s nothing else you can do about it – the only thing to do is accept that you’ve done your best, you’ve tried, and that decision was out of your hands. Being extra gentle to ourselves is key when building resilience.

  1. Be with people who make you feel like magic. Your family and friends, the people who support you, your hype squad – now is the time to surround yourself with positive influences in your life even more. Our loved ones remind us what’s great about ourselves even though we don’t see it sometimes. And when you’re feeling defeated over something, it’s hard to remember our strengths and what makes us unique. So be with people who make you feel amazing!

  1. Dream new dreams. So maybe it’s back to the drawing board after a particular setback… but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Take this opportunity to do better. Maybe your CV needs editing, or you can pitch your idea better. Remember that assessment you did of the setback? Well what can you have done differently to get the outcome you wanted? Now go ahead and do just that.

There is no correct timeframe and order of steps in bouncing back after a setback. Sometimes we can be stuck with step 1 for ages, or keep going back and forth steps 3 and 4. Just keep trying, try to keep your perspective in check, and remember the good things and the lessons. If all else fails, pour yourself a cup of tea (or wine – we’re not judging), blast your favourite music, take a walk, or a hot bath and get some sleep. Things will be better in time.