“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb
Life is full of unexpected challenges and setbacks, both in our personal lives and professional careers.
As someone who has dealt with many major setbacks over many years at Microsoft, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.
However, I also know that setbacks can be opportunities for growth and development, and with the right mindset and strategies, we can learn to handle setbacks better.
Whether you’re facing setbacks in your work, relationships, or personal life, it’s important to remember that setbacks are not the end of the road. It’s all about getting back up and keep moving forward, no matter how challenging the situation may seem.
In this guide, I will share some practical strategies and tips for handling setbacks better, based on my own experiences and the lessons I have learned from helping others.
By embracing setbacks as part of the journey and using them as fuel to drive progress, we can develop resilience, overcome any challenge that comes our way, and achieve our goals.
What are Setbacks?
Setbacks are obstacles, challenges, or difficulties that arise during the pursuit of your goal or objective. They are events or circumstances that hinder progress or prevent you from achieving your desired outcome.
Setbacks can come in many forms and can be caused by internal or external factors.
Examples of setbacks include financial difficulties, personal or health issues, unexpected changes in circumstances, lack of resources or support, failure to meet expectations or deadlines, and unforeseen obstacles or challenges.
Experiencing setbacks can be frustrating and discouraging, but they can also be valuable learning experiences that provide opportunities for growth, resilience, and adaptation.
Dealing with setbacks effectively often involves identifying the cause of the setback, developing strategies to overcome the obstacle, and remaining focused and motivated towards the end goal.
Remind Yourself “I Got This” to Handle Setbacks Better
A friend asked me for my best mantra for countering setbacks. I didn’t over think it.
“I got this.”
Interestingly, in Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule, has a method for dealing with doubt. When in doubt, use the 5 Second Rule:
Take action and push through self-doubt with the phrase “5-4-3-2-1, I got this.”
Embrace the Suck
“Embrace the suck” means to keep driving on through tough situations.
“Embrace the suck” is a saying commonly used in the military to describe the mindset needed to face tough and unpleasant situations without complaining.
It’s like a mental toughness hack that helps soldiers endure long deployments, difficult training exercises, and other grueling challenges that come with military life.
Think about it: being away from your family and friends for months, facing extreme weather conditions, or pushing your body to the limit during intense physical training – it’s not easy.
But instead of dwelling on how hard it is, soldiers are encouraged to embrace the suck and push through it. It’s like saying, “Okay, this sucks, but I can handle it. Let’s do this.”
But it’s not just about individual mental toughness – it’s also about building a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among soldiers. When everyone is going through a tough time together, it creates a bond that can’t be easily broken.
“Embracing the suck” means supporting and relying on each other to get through difficult situations.
“Embrace the suck” is a reminder that military service is not all sunshine and rainbows, but that soldiers can persevere through even the toughest challenges when they adopt the right mindset and support each other.
It’s a lesson that can be applied to many aspects of life – sometimes you just have to accept that things are going to be tough, and keep pushing forward anyway.
3 Quotes that Set the Stage to Handle Setbacks Better
Here are 3 really good quotes to help you set the stage to handle setbacks better:
- “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. Who are you? This moment.” — Dan Millman, Peaceful Warrior
- “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” — Randy Pausche
- “Every positive change-every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness-involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher run on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.” — Dan Millman
Use Affirmations to Handle Setbacks Better
Practice the best affirmation of all time:
“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
Here’s how to practice your affirmations better:
- Choose Concise Words
- Clear Visualization
- Corresponding Feeling
Adopt a Growth Mindset to Handle Setbacks Better
View setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning
One of the deepest psychological insights about setbacks is that they can be used as a source of motivation and growth rather than defeat.
This is the essence of a growth mindset.
Here are a few thoughts that help reframe your setbacks as opportunities for growth and greatness:
- Embrace your setback for learning and growth.
- Grow better, not bitter.
- Focus on what you control, let the rest go.
- There is no failure, only feedback.
- Failure isn’t final, unless you give up.
If you practice a growth mindset, every setback is just a chance to grow better. This mindset can help you develop greater resilience, perseverance, and a sense of purpose in the face of setbacks.
Change How You Feel to Handle Setbacks Better
Change your state to change your thoughts and feelings (and change your focus to change your language to change your thoughts):
- What does unshakable you *feel* like? Remember that feeling.
- What does unshakable you picture in your mind? See that.
- How does unshakable you, carry yourself? Be that.
Use Reframing to Handle Setbacks Better
Here are a few ways to reframe a setback for
- See it as an opportunity for growth: Look at the setback as a chance to learn something new, to acquire new skills or knowledge that will help you in the future.
- Focus on the present moment: Rather than dwelling on what could have been, try to focus on the present moment and what you can do right now to move forward.
- Use it as motivation: Setbacks can be incredibly motivating. Use the setback as a catalyst to push yourself harder and achieve even greater things.
- Practice gratitude: Even in the midst of a setback, there are always things to be grateful for. Take a moment to reflect on the things in your life that you are thankful for.
- Look for the silver lining: Setbacks can often lead to unexpected opportunities or paths. Look for the silver lining in the setback and see if there are any new doors that have open
Reframe Your Setbacks with These 5 Quotes
Here are 5 really good quotes to help you reframe your setbacks and see them in a more positive light:
- “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
- “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” — Mary Anne Radmacher
- “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
- “It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” — Rocky Balboa
- “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Nelson Mandela
How To Practice Self-Compassion to Handle Setbacks Better
By practicing self-compassion, you can learn to handle setbacks better and develop a greater sense of resilience and well-being.
Remember that setbacks are a normal part of life, and by treating yourself with kindness and compassion, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.
Here are some steps on how to practice self-compassion to handle setbacks better:
- Acknowledge your feelings: The first step to practicing self-compassion is to acknowledge and validate your feelings. Allow yourself to feel disappointed, frustrated, or sad about the setback. Don’t try to suppress or ignore your emotions, as this can make it harder to move forward.
- Be kind to yourself: Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would offer to a friend who is going through a difficult time. Avoid harsh self-criticism or negative self-talk, and instead, offer yourself words of encouragement and support.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present and focused, rather than getting caught up in negative thoughts or worries about the future. Practice techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help calm your mind and reduce stress.
- Reframe your perspective: Try to view setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones by focusing on what you can learn from the setback and how you can use this experience to become stronger and more resilient.
- Take care of yourself: It’s essential to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Self-care can help you build resilience and cope with setbacks more effectively.
How Angela Ducksworth, Author of Grit, Might Handle Setbacks
Angela Duckworth, author of the book “Grit”, would likely suggest you reframe setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, and to cultivate resilience through deliberate practice and perseverance.
Here are a few ways Angela Duckworth might handle setbacks:
- Reframe the setback as an opportunity for growth: Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of a setback, Duckworth might look for the lessons and opportunities for growth. She might ask herself questions like, “What can I learn from this experience?” and “How can I use this setback to become a better person?”
- Cultivate grit and perseverance: As the author of the book “Grit,” Duckworth is a strong believer in the power of perseverance. She might use setbacks as an opportunity to strengthen her resolve and commitment to her goals, rather than giving up or becoming discouraged.
- Seek feedback and support: Duckworth has written about the importance of seeking feedback and support from others, especially during challenging times. She might reach out to mentors, colleagues, or friends for advice and encouragement when facing setbacks.
- Embrace a growth mindset: Finally, Duckworth might approach setbacks with a growth mindset, which emphasizes the belief that skills and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. Rather than viewing setbacks as a reflection of her own limitations, she might see them as temporary obstacles on the path to achieving her goals.
She emphasizes the importance of a growth mindset, self-reflection, and setting incremental goals to build momentum and motivation. Additionally, she suggests seeking out mentors and social support to provide guidance and encouragement during difficult times.
How To Handle Setback Like a Sports Psychologist
How would a sports psychologist help you deal with a major setback?
A sports psychologist can help you deal with a major setback in several ways:
- Reframing: A sports psychologist can help you reframe your setback as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a failure. This can help you shift your mindset and see setbacks as part of the journey to success.
- Goal-setting: A sports psychologist can help you set realistic goals and create a plan to achieve them. This can help you stay focused and motivated despite setbacks.
- Visualization: A sports psychologist can teach you visualization techniques to help you stay positive and focused on your goals. By visualizing success, you can increase your confidence and resilience in the face of setbacks.
- Self-talk: A sports psychologist can help you develop positive self-talk to counter negative thoughts and emotions that can arise after a setback. This can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
- Coping strategies: A sports psychologist can help you develop coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety that can arise after a setback. This can include relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and other stress-management techniques.
How Would Brendon Burchard Handle Setbacks?
Brendon Burchard, a high-performance coach, would say that setbacks are an opportunity for growth and learning.
He believes that setbacks can be used as fuel to ignite the fire within us, pushing us to become better and achieve greater success.
Burchard encourages individuals to reframe their mindset around setbacks, seeing them not as failures but as opportunities to develop resilience, grit, and determination.
He also emphasizes the importance of taking action and making progress, even in the face of setbacks, as this helps to build momentum and confidence.
How Would Tony Robbins Handle Setbacks?
Tony Robbins believes that setbacks are not failures, but rather feedback, and that the key is to learn from the setback and use it as a tool for growth and progress.
He teaches that we must adopt a growth mindset and approach setbacks with curiosity, rather than seeing them as a negative experience.
He also emphasizes the importance of taking action to move forward and overcome setbacks, rather than dwelling on them and getting stuck in a negative cycle.
Overall, Tony Robbins encourages people to view setbacks as opportunities to learn, grow, and become stronger.
How Would Les Brown Handle Setbacks?
Les Brown, a motivational speaker, would likely encourage you to view setbacks as a necessary step towards success and to use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
He may also emphasize the importance of perseverance and resilience in overcoming setbacks and achieving your goals.
One of his famous quotes about setbacks is “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability,” which suggests that setbacks should not define your potential, but rather be viewed as an opportunity to tap into your inner strength and abilities.
How Do Navy Seals Handle Setbacks?
Navy Seals are trained to handle setbacks in a variety of ways. One approach is to focus on the next task or goal, rather than dwelling on what went wrong in the past.
They are taught to have a “no excuses” mentality and to take ownership of their mistakes.
Navy Seals also practice visualization techniques to mentally prepare for challenging situations and setbacks. They embrace the idea that failure is a natural part of the learning process and use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Additionally, they rely on their team and the bonds they’ve built to help overcome setbacks and accomplish their objectives.
How do Olympic Athletes Handle Setbacks?
Olympic athletes handle setbacks by adopting a growth mindset, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, and taking a proactive approach to problem-solving.
They understand that setbacks are a natural part of the journey and that resilience is the key to overcoming them.
One common strategy is to break down setbacks into manageable pieces and then work on each one systematically.
They also seek out advice and guidance from coaches and other experts, learn from their mistakes, and use setbacks as opportunities to become stronger and more focused.
Additionally, Olympic athletes often use visualization techniques to help them stay motivated and focused on their goals.
They create mental images of themselves succeeding and use these images to stay motivated and energized even when faced with setbacks and obstacles.
Embrace Setbacks, Build Resistance, and Overcome Challenges
See setbacks as opportunities for growth, persevere through them, seek feedback and support, and adopt a growth mindset to become more resilient.
Setbacks are a natural part of life and can be challenging to overcome. However, by developing a positive mindset and a proactive approach, we can learn to handle setbacks better and turn them into opportunities for growth and development.
To handle setbacks better, it’s essential to practice self-compassion, stay focused on the end goal, and maintain a growth mindset. It’s also important to seek support from others, whether that’s through talking to friends and family or seeking professional help if needed.
Additionally, taking a step back to evaluate the situation, identifying the root cause of the setback, and developing a plan to overcome it can help us move forward and overcome obstacles more effectively.
Remember that setbacks are not failures; they are opportunities to learn, grow, and become stronger.
By embracing setbacks as part of the journey and using them as fuel to drive progress, we can develop resilience and overcome any challenge that comes our way.
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