Setbacks are there to remind you, not define you

Overcoming SetbacksI have said many times that setbacks are there to remind you, not define you.

I first wrote these words a few years ago, but I think they are worth repeating today.

January Promises

I made a lot of promises to myself for January. I was going to hit the ground running at the first of the year, and I had a plan to basically kick ass and take names. As the saying goes, “People plan, God laughs.”

By the third day of the year, I was already struggling with the early stages of a cold. Two days later, and I was down for the count.

I self-diagnosed my symptoms as the flu. Whether I actually had the flu or not, I will never know, because I was feeling too crappy to even go to the doctor. Long story short, I lost out on the first two weeks of the year. So, my year didn’t really officially begin until January 20th. So much for my plans.

Although I had conducted what little business I could from bed, I really felt very far behind by the time I started to feel better.

On This Day

That’s when I discovered a Facebook memory, in which I had written the words: “Setbacks are there to remind you, not define you.”

It’s often interesting when you see something that you need to see at the exact moment you need to see it.

So it got me thinking about what I had meant when I wrote these words the first time.

How we define ourselves is something that I think about quite a lot. So, I tend to write about it a lot.  Basically, I am in the habit of revisiting ideas and themes that have a way of recurring in my life.  They become almost like obsessions to me, and, like most writers, I tend to write about the things that I obsess about.

How We Define Ourselves

When it comes to how we define ourselves though, I like to think that we are in charge and have full control of this. In other words, our defining moments belong to us, and us alone.  We define those moments for ourselves, and should never relinquish that control to anyone else.

We will all have setbacks from time-to-time. That’s a fact.  Some are monumental, and some are even debilitating, but they will not define us unless we let them.  Instead, they should teach us and remind us of what happened and how to do better, or act differently, or make changes, or whatever, in the future.

The setbacks themselves are not within our control necessarily, but how we react to them and let them affect us is completely up to us. And it’s not always easy to see it when we are in the moment.  I will even go so far as to say that it is virtually impossible.

Staying Grounded

In a way, those setbacks can also keep us grounded. They remind us that we are human and not without fault, and that every day isn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies.

But I realize that it can go deeper than that, much deeper.  You could lose your job and that could send you spiraling down a steep and steady slope for weeks, months, or even years.  If you suffer from depression, this is not something that you can just snap out of just because someone tells you that you should.

For most people, their jobs and careers are a large part of how they define themselves.  Without that, it is easy to feel lost, and even alone.  I’ve definitely seen this happen firsthand.

You might be thinking that losing a job is much more than a setback, and it absolutely is.  The trick is to minimize that loss (or any loss) as best as you can, and to turn your focus on what’s next. I promise you that putting your energy into what’s ahead is a huge step in being able to bounce back.

I am always interested in hearing from you, so please leave me a comment.

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