Dealing with setbacks and keeping perspective

Has life ever thrown you a curve ball? Ever encountered a frustrating set-back that left you scrambling? The fact is most, if not all of us, will face some sort of obstacle or hurdle at some point in our lives.

I believe that the type of set-back is inconsequential, so too is the frequency. What really sets apart successful people from those who struggle to reach their goals is the way in which they react and interpret the obstacle.

So how do people usually react to set-backs? 

Often, when we are faced with an obstacle, the easiest option is to quit or change our end goal. The tension, anxiety, frustration and disappointment that comes with set-backs can grow to an uncomfortable level, urging us to make a quick and easy change. Generally, this cycle will occur when the set-back or negative event is viewed as permanent (long lasting), pervasive (related to all aspects of life) and personal (self blame). This can create feelings of hopelessness which can lead to poor coping skills, reduced resilience, increased susceptibility to depression and lower self-esteem.

In contrast, if a set-back, obstacle or negative event is viewed as temporary, specific or localised to the given situation, and due to external circumstances, there is a greater tendency to continue towards the goal with greater feelings of confidence and efficacy.

How can I overcome obstacles and use them to thrive? 

You only need to google ‘dealing with set-backs’ to see there are all sorts of ways to cope and thrive after a set-back. One of the ways I find inner strength and resilience is through maintaining perspective. 

Catastrophising, overgeneralising and seeing things in ‘black and white’ really limits our ability to maintain a healthy perspective. Its very easy to blow problems out of proportion (I know because I do it too). So here are a few things to help you maintain perspective next time you face a set-back or obstacle:

1) look at the problem in the context of your entire life and ask yourself, will this matter 10 years from now?

2) seek advice, guidance and support from others, especially those who can give you an unbiased opinion

3) practice gratitude and be thankful for the things that are going really well in your life, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem.