Mental Health

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When Setbacks Threaten to Derail You.

Published: 2020-12-12
When Setbacks Threaten to Derail You.
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Everyone has setbacks. No matter how diligent you are at making plans, sometimes you're zipping along, doing well, feeling great, minding your own business and then out of the blue, something happens to derail you.

It doesn't help to get caught up in thinking you don't deserve it, or raising a clenched fist heavenward and yelling at the universe about how hard you've worked and why don't they just pick on someone else. It might make you feel better for a minute but it's really just a huge waste of energy.

Plus studies show that getting angry jacks up the inflammation in your body, which can do a whole load of serious damage after a while. According to, "Research has shown that chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis."


So when you have a setback and progress has stalled, the best place to start is to simply accept the fact that life does have a way of being miserable sometimes. And in some cases, you have no choice but to settle in for the long haul because it can go on for quite a while.

It might not feel as miserable when you have some control over the situation, and you can actively do something to make it better, or change it in some way and get back to a happier place. But it really sucks when it's pretty much out of your hands.

In those cases, all you can really do is change yourself by shifting your attitudes and mindset about what's happening. Trust me, I do understand complete and utter despair. I've endured some of the worst heartache, the worst illness, and the worst fears (but thank heaven I've also been spared many others). I do know what it is to suffer, and to have my life and my dreams blown to smithereens. So I'm not just talking out of my hat (An aside: What my hat has to do with anything is beyond me).

I know, too, that on every one of those occasions, I had a choice to make. I could wallow in the misery and the frustration and the unfairness of it all. I could have a temper tantrum and be furious with the Gods of Bad Luck for dumping on me once again. Or I could suck it up, let go of not feeling good about whatever had happened, and choose to shift my perspective so I could feel better.

And I know that if you're seriously in the soup and something really awful has happened (and I sincerely hope that's not the case), it's not always so easy to make that switch. Depending on what's gone wrong, it can take a lot of time and healing. But it helps to know that we are magnificently resilient healing machines - on all levels.

When it gets like that for you, you've got to hang onto faith and hope. And if you've lost them, you've got to dig deeper and find them again, even if it's just the tiniest shred of each. Although it doesn't always feel like it, you do have control over what goes on in your head. You can choose to think about how awful your situation is and how dark and miserable things are right now and how they're just going to stay that way.

Or you can look ahead and have faith that things will change, and that the Wheel of Life will soon begin to turn in your favour once again. You can trust that there could be some good news tomorrow or next week, or that soon you'll see the first signs of improvement in your situation. Because it will come, you know. Nothing stays the same forever.

If you're like I used to be, you'll say, "Yeah, I know. It could get worse!" (Ew. So glad I’m a few decades past that attitude!)

And yes, that's true; it could. But equally, it also means that things can get better. If you're gonna give some time and energy to the negative, the positive deserves at least the same attention. Be fair and give it equal time. Actually, no. Give it more. A lot more.

Then find a little hope. If you've lost that too, then whip up some more. You do it by remembering other times when things were dark and horrible, but then they got better. Come on, don't tell me that every single minute of your whole existence since birth has been awful. Even if there has been a lot of misery, even if there have been many hardships, some of them will have made room for brighter days in the past.

And I'll bet that when you were in the soup back then, you might not have thought it would ever get better. But it did.

And I can promise that it'll get better again.

You create faith and hope by choosing to welcome them into your thoughts, by deciding to keep going - no matter what - and by trusting that a solution will be found, an answer will come, or all will be well - whatever that might mean in your particular situation. You become courageous and strong by opening your mind and your heart to believing in yourself, and by telling yourself - no, by insisting - that your situation is already beginning to improve, even if you can't see evidence of it just yet.

The Universe doesn't always give us what we want. But it always gives us what we need. And if you need courage, strength, faith or hope, you will always have them because they're already right there inside yourself, just waiting for you to notice.