Dealing with Setbacks (hint: punching the walls doesn’t work)

Angry PenguinI have been in a total gloom-and-doom funk during the past week. Despite all my efforts to change my diet, and add more healthy foods (not to mention learning to really love them!), my doc has reported that my cholesterol is a whopping 271. I won’t lie – I seriously contemplated a massive junk food and alcohol binge, but in the end, giving up doesn’t hurt anybody more it hurts me, so now I’m ready to climb back on the horse and ride again.

Setbacks happen to everyone. A relationship that seems to be going great comes screeching to an end due to problems you didn’t even really acknowledge that you had (or didn’t seem that problematic to you). Happy hints of a promotion turn out to be nothing more than the rumor mill yanking your chain. Or maybe you’ve been pushing yourself for years and still feel stuck in same damn place you’ve always been. You get angry. You feel defeated. Suddenly it seems that every other person you know is getting more breaks and you’re just getting rotten eggs. You wonder what the point is of trying any further – why bother? Obviously, nothing you do matters…right?

Get it Out

Every person develops their own ways of dealing with funky feelings. It really boils down to how your mind works. So, do what you need to do to get the initial emotions – in as healthy and sane a way as possible, obviously. Below is a short list of different ways to digest the feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and hopelessness, but there are many, many more. I strongly believe in not fighting or trying to hold a feeling back, but acknowledging how you feel and finding ways to work your emotions out, so that you can move on to the next step with a clearer head. In my experience, making decisions while feeling severely depressed or angry never ends well.

Some things you can do:

  • Journaling
  • Have a good cry
  • Break a few old dishes
  • Try some meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises
  • Play a contact sport like football (don’t get carried away and crack someone’s skull though)
  • Rent your favorite funny movie
  • Read a motivating book
  • See a therapist
  • Join a support group
  • Vent to friends/family

A note about venting

While dialing up your best friend to spew out your problems might seem like a great way to get it off your chest, you might want to consider if it’s actually helping you – or hurting you. For example, my mother is a big fan of venting about her problems, but I noticed that she would repeat the same story over and over again, even weeks after the aggravating event had actually happened. Further more, every time she told her story again, she would work herself up and get upset again, even a full week later. She wasn’t venting to get the anger out of her system, she was venting to re-experience it!

So, if you find yourself venting about the same event or problems over and over and still getting upset each time you think or talk about it, you might want to try other ways of working past those feelings instead of forcing yourself to relive the frustration again and again and again.

Get your head back in the game

Once you feel a little calmer, more clear-headed, then you can take a more objective look at where you are and where you want to be. For my little cholesterol problem, my doctor has already prescribed Lipitor, which I’ve decided to take for the immediate future while I start doing research into modifying my eating strategy to see what can be done there to lower my cholesterol naturally. I’m also planning to be a good little girl and take my vitamins more consistently – instead of every blue moon like I do now.

While it’s easy to throw up your hands and say “There’s nothing else I can do!”, in reality, there might be plenty that you still can do. Maybe your goal really isn’t the best fit for you and you need to re-prioritize and see what’s practical for where you are right now. Maybe you’re being too practical and working too hard for something that your heart isn’t in. Maybe you need to start thinking outside of the box and taking a chance on something unconventional. Maybe you just haven’t hit the point yet where you really are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.

Setbacks can be a sharp wake-up call if you’ve been slacking or a rally to action if you know you can work harder. So while the sting is still felt, use the time to re-evaluate your game plan, check your resources (or look for new ones) and consider new directions.

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