“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” — Unknown
“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” — Hans Selye
Have you experienced moments when things don’t go your way? It could be small setbacks such as your boss scolding you, not reaching your goal target, or losing something important. It could be big setbacks like failing in your business, losing your job, or getting a divorce.
You’re not alone. All of us have times when things don’t go as we expected. I certainly do too.
When you face negative incidences, what do you do? Do you beat yourself up? Do you become negative? Or do you learn from it and move on?
While we cannot change some of the negative events that happen to us, we can change how we react to them. When we don’t learn to deal with our negative setbacks properly, we get caught in a negative cycle which causes ourselves more damage. We waste time harping on what has happened rather than moving on. By learning to deal with setbacks in a positive way, we can then deal with life’s big challenges more effectively. 🙂
Here are my 10 tips to deal with daily setbacks in life.
1. Take a step back and evaluate
When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What is the problem?
- Am I the only person facing this problem in the world?
- How does this problem look at an individual level? At a national level? How about at a global level?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen to me because of this?
- How is this going to impact my life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
For example, say you made a severe mistake at work and your boss rebuked you during a company meeting. You burst out crying and you want to quit your job the next day. This is an understandable reaction. If we apply the questions above though, we may find new perspectives to handle this issue. For example:
- What’s the problem? You made a severe work mistake and your boss rebuked you. You feel publicly shamed and embarrassed.
- Am I the only person facing this problem in the world? Probably not. Many people get told off by their bosses, especially people with less sensitive bosses. This is not trying to downplay the problem or excuse a boss’ bad behavior (especially if he/she was being insensitive), but simply to put things into perspective.
- How does this problem look at an individual level? At a national level? How about at a global level? At the individual level, this is indeed a big problem. You made a severe mistake, one that may have cost the company tens of thousands of dollars, and people are upset. At a national level, it is not good for employees to make mistakes that cost their company money, but it does happen. In fact, high-level directors can make mistakes that cost their companies tons of money (some then lose their job as a result). Elon Musk recently sent out a tweet that violated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations and cost him and his company Tesla $20 million each as part of a SEC fine. As part of the SEC settlement, he also had to resign as chairman of Tesla’s board of directors for the next three years. At a global level, such a problem at work becomes minute. When you consider global and very real issues like famine, poverty, homelessness, and domestic abuse, problems at work can seem much smaller, and even a luxury, in comparison.
- What’s the worst thing that can happen to me because of this? Your colleagues may have a bad impression of you as they think that you’re not serious about your work or that you’re not very competent. This mistake may show up in your performance review for the year. In the worst case scenario, you may get fired. While each scenario isn’t ideal, it isn’t a life-or-death thing. If people think poorly of you, so be it — you don’t live your life for them, and you can always improve people’s opinions by improving on your work. If you lose your job, you can always get another — and possibly better — job. Life doesn’t end when mistakes happen at work, and what’s most important is that you reflect, learn, and improve from this experience.
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