Five Ways to Handle a Setback with Positive Thinking

A setback is an equal opportunity misfortune. How you handle a setback can have a huge effect on its scope and duration. Positive thinking can help you orchestrate a response that will turn a disappointing situation into a total comeback. Turn the negative thinking around to get yourself back on your feet quickly from a setback by using these five tips:

1. Neutralize the negative thinking. Beat yourself up if you must, but set a timer. One of the best ways to get stuck after a setback is to keep beating yourself up. “I should have seen it coming.” “I did so many things wrong, I deserved to fail.” Although it is a natural response to a disappointing situation, guard against staying too long in negative thinking mode. Instead, begin to understand the causes for the setback: use a more neutral assessment. “The company’s revenues were down, so costs needed to be reduced.” “Our personalities weren’t a mesh.” “I may have inadvertently set things in motion when I didn’t recognize . . .”

2. Identify what you’re responsible for and take any necessary action. Is an apology or repayment in order? Do you need to head to Human Resources or polish up your resume? Acting on your responsibilities brings momentum, creating a buffer from the negative thinking. This can “trick your mind” into positive thinking, instead: “Hey, I’m already making progress!”

3. Revise your overall plan. The reasons behind your setback? Your tactics and strategy were incompatible with actual conditions. No amount of positive thinking will change a disappointing situation if your assumptions aren’t reality-based. Now that you’ve made a more neutral assessment with the benefit of hindsight, you can adjust your approach. Positive thinking will also help you break down your strategy into actionable tactics: “I know there are great clients out there who need my services. I’m going to develop a referral process that will make it easy for my friends to recommend me.”

4. Share your experience. At first, all you’ll want is a confidante who will commiserate with you. But it’s best to share the story of your setback with someone who can see beyond the painful moments, and then help you go past the negative thinking. A healthy perspective creates more positive thinking. Look around and see who may have “been there, done that.” Use your setback as an opportunity to reach out and make new connections. Perhaps you might help someone else avoid a similar failure.

5. Remember, this isn’t forever. Nobody likes to deal with failure, but the good news is, by nature a setback is temporary. Engaging in positive thinking can speed up the process of recovery, identify kindred spirits for more rewarding interactions, and help you avoid a similar disappointing situation in the future.

Do you think this process would have helped you handle setbacks better in the past?

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Comments

  1. says

    There are now books on how the self-improvement industry in fact makes things worse by making people feel guilty for having a negative thought.

    Usually it’s connected to selling books and materials – ie “if you’re having problems with being positive, then I have just the book for you to help solve your situation.”

    So I say: if you’re having a bad day, this happens.

    It’s part of being a human being.
    David has an awesome blog post here: On pronunciationMy Profile

    • Betsy Wuebker says

      Hi David, Welcome to PassingThru! You’re right, bad days happen. It’s all about balance. Thanks for your comment!

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