For the longest time I thought that if I did everything right, I would eventually reach a point in my life where things went smoothly. When I stopped experiencing setbacks, my life would somehow fall into place.
I’ve learned that this isn’t how life works. Like, not at all. Setbacks, mistakes, challenges; whatever you want to call them- they all happen for a reason. They could be gentle reminders that we’re straying from our path (or, the not so gentle ones). They can be opportunities for growth, for building your character or for guiding you to a new perspective.
The problem is that when they happen, we hardly ever look at them this way. Most of the time we call them as we see them- mistakes, or failures. Here’s what I’ve learned from my toughest setbacks in life that I hope you can remember in yours.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
I’ve gotten this piece of advice from so many people in my life, that it would only be fair of me to share it with you, too. You are going to want to blame yourself. It’s all my fault, I should have known better, I’m a bad person, a failure, and so on. Sound familiar? Holding back those thoughts is much easier said than done, though.
If you find yourself doing this, give yourself a moment to wallow in self blame. But only a moment. Then, whenever these thoughts pass, don’t let them linger. Think of anything else, remind yourself that you’re human, and that this will pass. Distract yourself to take your mind off of this cycle of thoughts.
Your Mistakes Don’t Define You
After making mistakes in life that you felt guilty or ashamed of, you might consider yourself to be damaged goods. This is the furthest thing from who you are. No one is perfect. If you can forgive others for making mistakes in their lives, you deserve the same courtesy. If you’re making mistakes or facing challenges in life, it means you’re working towards something- and that’s what really counts.
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
Failure is Growth
I’ve never truly understood this statement until recently. I used to be terrified of writing and sending my work out for fear of being rejected, so I wouldn’t dare to try. Eventually, I built up the courage to send off my work. I was faced with more rejections and silences than responses. But, every rejection made a response back that much more meaningful. The fear of rejection was much worse than actually experiencing it!
If you never experience failure, how will you know what success feels like?
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
Don’t Give Up
The hardest part about setbacks is picking yourself back up and trying again. It really is all about how you handle your most challenging moments. You are your toughest critic. You should also be your strongest supporter. Don’t let fear or the reminiscences of failure keep you from following your passion.
You will regret giving up, or not even daring to try much more than anything else. So do it. Dive head first into what you believe in. Take your mistakes and failures with you as lessons and carry on, with your head held high.
What has your experience with setbacks been? How have you dealt with your setbacks?