Like it or not, setbacks are a fact of life. We face big setbacks like divorce, losing a job, natural disasters, debt, and death. Even the most minor setbacks can leave us in a tizzy and lead us into the depths of a downward spiral.

Regardless of how big or small, setbacks usually leave us with similar feelings:

  • We struggle with the fact that reality doesn’t always match up with the picture that we had in our minds. In other words, things don’t always work out as we hope.
  • Setbacks leave us with some serious feelings of self-doubt. We question ourselves, our capabilities, and even our purpose. It’s not a good feeling.
  • We often feel helpless, and this feeling of lacking control can even feel like yet another setback.
  • As we struggle with these negative feelings, we start feeling bad about feeling bad.

It’s a vicious, crippling cycle…but we want you to know that there is hope. We’ve faced — and more importantly, overcome — similar challenges, and we know you can too. Here are some strategies that we’ve found to work well.

  • It’s okay if things didn’t work out as we had hoped or planned. That’s part of the process. In all its “imperfections,” life is the perfect teacher. Embrace reality, and embrace the opportunity to learn from your experiences.
  • Despite our best intentions and efforts, we are all human, and none of us is perfect. We have to embrace who we are, and you, my friend, are pretty darn great. Instead of dwelling on your “weaknesses,” reflect and shine a light on all of your awesomeness.
  • It’s okay to feel bad and to have self-doubt. That’s part of being human. Give yourself permission to feel bad; we don’t have to be positive and happy 100% of the time. Give yourself space to embrace the suck. Just recognize what you’re feeling and why. The rainbow will shortly follow the storm.
  • Speaking of which, recognize that setbacks and these feelings are temporary — even when facing the biggest of setbacks. They are just a passing cloud. Remember, this too shall pass.
  • And something that helps the storm pass more quickly is finding gratitude. Make a list for the things, people, and experiences you’re grateful for. Include as much as you can think of — big and small. You will be shocked at how well this works. Life is great, my friend!
  • Setbacks are usually self-centered. In other words, we typically wallow in our own self-pity. That’s harsh, but it’s true. The best medicine? Get outside yourself. Focus on others. Find ways to help others.