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How to bounce back from setbacks (involves licking wounds, and pro athletes)

I know about setbacks. Far too intimately. 

And I know setbacks are "opportunities" and other cheery rah rah things you read about in a lot of self-help and personal development.

But I can't go there right away.

I need to lick my wounds, and let someone who cares about me witness and tend to them, too. 

(Image credit: michael steinberg, unsplash.com)

It's really tough to acknowledge and debrief our shortcomings, mistakes, poor decisions, and yet if we don't, we can't truly find or see or make use of the "opportunity" they present.

I just suffered a setback yesterday. It may cost me a bit, which is tough as I was making progress on another financial goal. Nothing huge, but it created a big dose of discouragement when I was on an upswing. It took the wind out of my sails. 

I'll be honest, I sat down and cried.

And when that passed, I went over the scenario, and saw clearly (ah, blessed hindsight) where I made a couple critical mistakes. I thought back to those moments, and, if I'm honest, I saw the potential for a possible problem, and mistakenly went with, 'naw, that's pretty unlikely to happen' and proceeded. I didn't listen to that little voice behind that one saying, 'but, what about...'

I didn't honor my wise one inside. (Tip: that is always a mistake.)

After deconstructing it further, I saw the necessary improvements I must make in my process. And, I gave myself a break. I had not been in this situation before. I didn't have experience. It's not catastrophic. And, aha, the opportunity now presented is that it will make me more efficient, strengthen me, and likely save me a ton of time and energy and money going forward.

I spoke to a friend, vulnerably, and got some much needed perspective, as well as a big dose of kindness and compassion and reinforcement.

I then thought about a lesson from a mentor about cutting losses, which brings us to the channeling of pro athletes.  

If you watch sports like tennis, soccer, basketball, etc. note that when someone misses a shot or a pass, they don't stop and cry and analyze it (I'm being a little silly here, but not totally) - they keep going, and the good ones increase their focus and resolve; they analyze post-game. (I hear about golf being more a mental game than anything, and it makes sense. They have to walk to the next swing, and have allllll that time to think about what happened. The good ones shake it right off and focus on the next swing.)

So, I'm embracing both licking of the wounds (acknowledging, adding a big dose of compassion, thanking the hindsight, getting support), and moving right along to the course correction and next thing. I may have missed a shot, but I can still win the game (I actually dislike sports [and particularly war] analogies generally, but it does drive home the point, uh, no pun intended, golfers).

The quick list of how to bounce back from setbacks:
1. Allow all the feelings without getting into beating yourself up.
 Just let the anger or sadness flow until it's done. If you have a hard time with stopping that, set a timer for 5 minutes, take a deep breath, and honestly check whether more tears are needed, or if that was enough for now. 
2. Review the situation honestly and with compassion. Let the hindsight be kind and instructive and hopeful-facing. 
3. Speak with a compassionate witness about it. Get honest reflections and support from someone you trust. (Tip: don't talk to someone who might take the opportunity to 'I-told-you-so' etc. That's not compassionate witnessing.)
4. Take several deep breaths, and stretch, and literally shake your hands and arms and legs a bit. (I didn't mention this before, but this set of steps is a brilliant way to reset yourself anytime - it's very healthy for our bodies, it lets oxygen and blood flow, stopping the restriction we feel from the situation, and opening us up to healing and opportunities.)
5. Move on to the next right step, take one small action. Whether it's about the situation, or simply a positive or helpful thing to make you feel back on track, do one thing now. Do the dishes (helps you cleanse the situation). Take out the trash (helps you dispose of unhelpful thoughts). Straighten your desk (tidying sets up a blank space from which to begin anew).
6. Love yourself. Perhaps the most challenging of all, give yourself a (metaphoric) big happy healing 'lick.' Repeat. A lot. 

With heart and fire,


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