Tuesday, 24 September 2019

You are good enough: 6 compassionate ways to manage setbacks in your personal life and career

Laura is staring at some swans

Sometimes you think that you are close to your goal but then it just slips through your fingers. When this happens, you get disappointed and you begin to ask yourself: "where did I go wrong, why are things not going my way?". Unfortunately, when the nature of life is rooted in its unpredictability, so the likelihood of being hit by an unexpected setback is great. We can't avoid these setbacks, no matter how painful they are. 

For instance, I have experienced plenty of job rejections despite my degree. I see these rejections as a setback, as I have been always wired to work hard. I feel guilty and strange when I'm not working. Experiencing these rejections fills me with negativity. It makes me question whether I am good enough. I think that my feelings are shared by many. As a psychology nerd, of course,  I always try to practice what I preach and instead of wasting my time on negative thoughts, I wanted to come up with ways to compassionately deal with these setbacks.

So, it is natural to feel unsettled. When life circumstances push you away from your wishes, whether it's a job or a goal that you worked towards but were unable to attain, your sense of self-worth is likely to crumble. While it's impossible to avoid setbacks, it is healthy to reconsider your attitude towards these setbacks

This post will discuss the idea that despite experiencing setbacks you are still good enough. You will be offered ways to view these challenges in a compassionate and functional way.

1. Patience is what you need to feel content after a setback 

When you work your hardest towards achieving a goal, failure can seem like the end of the world. For me personally, when I experience setbacks, my brain goes into a crisis mode. It begins to panic, as I question my abilities and worth. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, have you ever thought that some of your goals are just not meant to happen - right now? You will never know what opportunity is waiting for you. Your life success can hugely depend on your choices and life experiences. So if you keep experiencing setbacks, instead of reacting negatively and questioning your worth, allow yourself to be patient. Good things happen for those who are patient. 

2. Life is not perfect and setbacks can happen to everyone 

Experiencing a significant setback in your life can feel isolating, almost like the entire world has turned against you. Instead of viewing your setback as a fight between you and everybody else, try to understand that setbacks can happen to everyone. You are not on your own dealing with these challenges, frustration and adversity. After all, life is not perfect and setbacks can happen to everyone. Some people are just better at hiding their frustration.

3. Get yourself out and experience the world

Setbacks can knock your confidence down. When you overthink your abilities, sometimes the first reaction is to avoid the world and hide. What if another setback happens? Avoidance is an unhealthy coping mechanism, we as individuals always try our best to protect ourselves from pain. Nevertheless, by constantly avoiding life experiences, we isolate ourselves from future opportunities. This is why, you should not give in to negative thoughts related to the goodness of your potential, get yourself out and experience the world. Isolation won't lead you to success.

4. Change your perspective on your setbacks 

One of the best ways to cope with setbacks is to change the way in which you view your setbacks. Our natural response to failure is usually based on negative thoughts and catastrophizing. Setbacks can be difficult and require you to accept change. The more you let your negative thoughts control your behaviour and feelings - the worse you will feel.

This means that focusing on a silver lining of setbacks is important to keep you going forward. You may have experienced a setback, but perhaps the opportunity that you did not get is not for you? You will never know when there are better things around the corner. Stop viewing your setbacks as an obstacle, setbacks can be your stepping stones to success.

5. Take your time for self-improvement 

Multiple setbacks can make you feel like your life is on a standstill. You want to move and progress yet these setbacks keep you chained back. Fortunately, you can move forward despite these setbacks, if you take your time for independent self-improvement. Learn new skills, explore the world and grow as an individual. Focus on the ways in which you can develop yourself and grow, rather than your 'failures'.

6. Focus on your achievements not just your setbacks 

Negative bias can be defined as our natural attunement to negative information. Negative experiences tend to have a greater effect on us compared to positive or neutral events. We tend to give our negative experiences far more credit than they deserve to get! This means that during setbacks and challenges, it is easy to forget your achievements, you may even undermine your achievements and perceive them as if they don't matter. I think that everyone (including me!) questions their self-worth and whether they are "good enough" when setbacks happen. It would be useful for you to keep an objective log about your achievements. Keep that log close to you at all times, so when you start doubting your worth or when you are unable to view yourself positively, take a moment to reflect on the achievements that you listed in your log.

So as you can see, setbacks are a natural part of life. You can't control setbacks, but you can control your perspective. By changing your perspective and attitude it will become easier for you to live with your setbacks. Setbacks are often seen as something that you should always aim to 'overcome'. That's an unhealthy mindset. 

Setbacks are not always negative or bad, as they can also be a great learning opportunity - teaching you more about yourself. Accept that things that you want (whether it's career or life related) can take time. Everyone feels stuck in life. You are not alone. Most importantly, it does not matter how many setbacks and  'obstacles' that you face, setbacks do not undermine your worth as a person. So, repeat after me: "I am good enough. I can do this!"

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Follow my blog for more blog posts like this. You can also follow me on twitter or instagram.


  1. great post. i really needed to read this, some great advice

    beth / www.quirksandqueries.com

    1. Thank you Bethany, I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

  2. Lovely post!

    Positivity is so important. I think it's so true about perspective. Sometimes you can get
    so bogged down in negatives but you just need to take a step back and remember all the good things!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Ash! Thank you for stumbling upon my blog and reading the post x

  3. This post is so helpful. I’m stuck in a phase right now that’s hard on me. I feel like I’m learning about myself but also letting go who I am or used to be, which was a happy & adventurous person. I really need to take the advice to experience the world. My weekends only consist of watching tv and playing with my niece. There’s more to life than that lol! Thanks for your helpful tips!

    Kendra | Self-Care Overload

    1. You are more than welcome :-) I wish you all the best!

  4. I've just recently graduated from university and am finding the job search super difficult so I completely relate! I love your final point - it's so important to focus on the positives when you can :) x


    1. Hahaha It seems like we are in the same journey of trying to find a job! We can do this <3

  5. Lovely advice - it's really important to remember to not take set backs personally but as a reaction to a poor decision or mistake. I love the idea of using it as a basis for change and self improvement.

    Georgia| britvoyage.com

    1. Thank you for reading the post x I wish you all the best in your self-improvement journey!

  6. I so needed to read this. We all deal with setbacks in our life sooner or later. Well done.


    1. Thank you! I hope the post helped you out :)

  7. Thank you for the wonderful advice! It's so simple, but so practical. I feel like my life is full of setbacks, but I'm sure if I look back and look at my achievements, like you suggested, I'm sure my setbacks won't look so bad and might even look like a chance for a new opportunity.

    Great post!!

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you have enjoyed the post! Thank you so much for giving it a read :)

  8. Thank you for posting this. I've been going through PTSD right now because I got in an accident a year and a half ago and got hospitalized. I had a seizure too. I eventually got my license back and got a new car but I started getting panic attacks being so afraid of getting another seizure. I've been avoiding driving lately because of it, but I want to have the courage to be able to drive again without the fear of an accident.

    Hannah | www.hannahthemaddog.com

  9. These are some great ways to manage set backs, often it becomes overwhelming and stressful that you don't know what to do but these will really help when it all gets a bit much. I like to look back at my achievements, that can help re-centre me.

    Jordanne // Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk


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