Mastering Setbacks, Breakdowns, and Perceived Failures

JanetPersonal Empowerment, ProductivityLeave a Comment

We all mess up at times. I really wanted to be of help to my daughter and her family while she recovered from surgery. However, coming into a different house and doing it my way was not always appreciated. I had to take a look at how I was serving and who I was being about my service. Truly, service is not about me. It’s about learning the needs of another person. I had to learn new ways of taking care of my daughter, as well as myself, in order to be of true service.  

So, I messed up a few times. That does NOT mean that there is something wrong with me. In fact, setbacks, breakdowns and perceived failures can be a great opportunity to learn something new. It also provides us with a chance to think outside the box.

Our old brain may try to dwell on past mistakes and try to convince you that you are not worthy of encouragement or positivity. However, take a deep breath and feel your feelings, realizing that they will come and go like the waves of the ocean.  Feeling overwhelmed by emotions is normal.  Creating a disempowering label of “not good enough” or “worthlessness” is not helpful at all. 

The fact of the matter is that success is something that is personally defined. Sometimes you are far more inhibited by the expectations and interpretations of success that other people seem to place on your shoulders. That is their perception, but you don’t have to adopt it as your own. Your sense of self-worth is not defined by somebody else. Success is a personal choice. It is very important that you consider your own definition of success before you get out the stick of self-loathing to beat yourself up.

It’s a Breakdown!

First off, when you mess up, purposefully declare a breakdown. Ask yourself what should not be. A declared breakdown is an opportunity to learn what you can do better next time. It is a powerful way to invite your brain to turn this perceived failure into a powerful experience that is full of stepping stones to a new future.

One of the greatest hitters of all time was Barry Bonds. He had a lifetime batting average of almost 400. That means he failed 6 out of 10 times that he tried. And yet, he has been esteemed as one of the greatest hitters in history.

Remember, a breakdown is an opportunity for a breakthrough. 

Yes, You’re Upset!

Next, identify all the things that you are upset about. Get all that junk in your brain out onto the table, into your journal, or find a good listener (coach) who will just get your complaint without trying to fix anything about the situation you’re in.

Every evening while I was serving my daughter, I spent time downloading my thoughts. When I woke up in the morning, I was ready to start a new day. Staying in denial or pretending that there is nothing to change is a sure case for stress overload. If you are in denial about the way you feel when you experience a failure, then you are going to have a much harder time passing that obstacle. It’s okay for you to be upset that something didn’t go right. Jump into this wave with both feet and swim with the disappointment rather than against it.  

How many times did Thomas Edison fail before he discovered the lightbulb? One time he was asked why he didn’t give up after 1000 tries. He said that he had discovered 1000 ways that don’t work. He kept going until he found what did work. You can do the same when you are faced with setbacks, breakdowns and perceived failures.

Just the Facts

Now, identify the facts about the situation. This is the key to differentiating between the facts and the story you’re making up about those facts. Circumstances happen and facts are much more manageable than the stories going around in your head. As you consider the situation from the angle of what actually happened, the facts will be short and to the point.

Your Commitment

The next step is to ask yourself what you are committed to. I was committed to serving my daughter. I was committed to BEING love as I cared for my adorable grandchildren. They didn’t need me to be a whiny victim with little or no power. They need a humble, helpful parent and grandmother who knows how to take care of herself — even to the point of asking for what I need.  

There is always a way to benefit from a messy situation. As you ponder on what you can learn from an unhappy experience, ask your responsible self what you’re commitment is and how you can grow from this experience. Think about what constructive things can be taken away from your experience so that it serves you in the future. 

Allow yourself to consider all options rather than feeling as if there are no other alternatives. There is always an option. Whether we are able to accept that option or not is a personal choice.

I found a better way to serve my daughter. Thomas Edison was committed to finding a way to light the world with electricity rather than fire. Barry Bonds kept hitting that ball. Just think! It can be a whole lot worse if we don’t get back out there and try again.  These are perfect opportunities for growth.  

Write down your commitment and post it where you can see it every day.

Take Massive Action

Now it’s time to take action. All the thoughts in the world are just thoughts. It’s the action that is in alignment with your commitment that gets you moving. Setbacks, breakdowns, and failures are part of life. Make this experience work in your favor by taking massive action TODAY.

Gertrude Ederle tried to be the first woman to swim across the English Channel. She failed in her first attempt and was told by her coach that she could never do it. She took massive action and fired her coach, who had never succeeded in swimming the channel himself. Then she got a new coach who had successfully swum across the Channel. She also had her sister make her a special swimsuit. Her sister was the one who encouraged her from the boat that followed along beside Gertrude. What a team!

Nothing that is worthwhile happens easily. There is always going to be something in the way. These tools can help you face the problem head-on by looking at it objectively. Remember, you’re only a failure if you don’t get up and try again. So get up, get going, try again, learn from your breakdowns, and discover the power that you truly have inside yourself.

That’s the road to true success!


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