Dealing with setbacks

Have you ever experienced a setback where you feel utterly helpless, and that no matter how hard you try, your actions have no effect? We all need to be aware of these feelings – they can spiral into a belief that we are powerless or helpless so we give up trying. In these situations, you need to catch those powerless thoughts before they become a personal belief and part of your narrative

According to Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, we can get into a state of “learned helplessness”, which will inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But the good news is that we can learn optimism as well. His statistics are compelling. Did you know that optimists are more resistant to infectious illnesses and are better at fending off chronic diseases of middle and old age? This certainly bears out with my father, almost 85, who has beaten 2 ferocious cancers and whose cup is so full it overflows!

If something goes wrong, pessimists have hopeless thoughts – stamping themselves with a label – “I’m an idiot”, “I never get that right”. Even if you consider yourself to have a generally positive outlook, in certain circumstances you may be putting these negative labels on yourself – be careful, catch those thoughts and turn them around. Talk to yourself as a friend may “..that wasn’t such a good result today, but I know now how to tackle it better tomorrow.”, “..sometimes I’m not so decisive, but overall reflection has helped me make solid decisions.”

You can train yourself to be more optimistic and disrupt or challenge your pessimistic thoughts. Remember, nobody holds more power over your life than you do – so choose to live it optimistically!


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