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How To Mindfully Deal With Setbacks In Your Life

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I have recently been asked how I deal with my setbacks in life, and I thought, before, those pretty much made a mess out of me. I was (and still am) the kind of person who easily gets discouraged and demotivated. And so, experiencing setbacks, whether in my studies or passions, was a huge challenge for me to overcome.

As an undergraduate student and a blogger, most of the problems I encountered were either related to academic situations or blogging. Having experienced those misfortunes, I always blamed myself for not doing better beforehand.

I indulge in thoughts about “what could have happened” or “what ifs” and it didn’t help me cope with what I was feeling.

Having learned about mindfulness, I notice that I became more aware of what a thinking habit like that would do to my mental and emotional health.

I also learned that being the snowflake that I am, always overly sensitive and a crybaby, means I have to be more careful about the things I commit to, and the decisions I make to prevent setbacks from happening.

As bloggers, we also struggle with a lot of setbacks. We miss deadlines, we struggle with maintenance issues, and we lose productivity now and then. These problems hinder us from growing and achieving our goals.

Sometimes it feels like we take one step ahead and two steps back. We lose focus on what our goal really is, and the reason why we do the things we do.

In this post, I’m going to share how we can mindfully address our setbacks, and why these are also important for growth.

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What are setbacks?

Setbacks are situations that hinder us from any progress we are currently making with regards to achieving something we want. In the process, it’s normal that we encounter these situations.

Our life is a continuous fight with our own and our weaknesses, and so we must anticipate these problems happening.

What we should focus on is our way out of these things. And our plan to utilize these to our advantage. So, even if we aren’t able to dodge this kind of bullet, we can do something about it once it’s present.

Setbacks can cause stress

As goal-oriented people, we are very much focused on getting that gold medal that we are inclined to forget about other possibilities that could happen too.

We think in absolutes, but we don’t think about the progress and how it would play out. The more that we think ideally, failure can be very unexpected.

And when we set our expectations too high, it can be very much painful to handle our shortcomings. Sometimes, setbacks can cause a great deal of stress. It can take away our motivation and inspiration to continue working on our progress.

Always thinking ideally about a situation can leave out spaces for mistakes. This is why we get so stressed when things didn’t seem to go our way. It’s because we didn’t expect those from happening.

Although it is normal to feel not okay when you’ve experienced some reversals. You don’t have to fight it or ignore it. But what you can do, is you can use it. 

Now, what kind of mind would think that setbacks are great? It doesn’t help us manage our time efficiently, and it definitely doesn’t help us succeed with our plans. So, in what way can it help us?

Setbacks can serve as lessons for growth

My father once said that you wouldn’t be able to fully learn how to use a motorbike if you haven’t experienced falling from it at least once. In that way, you’ll learn the reason and its importance on why you have to be extra careful when you drive again.

Much like having a major setback in your life, I admit, it isn’t the best way to get our lessons learned. Some people can do their job smoothly without failures. Success would be faster if we didn’t have to experience problems with our progress.

The thing is, it’s there and it’s real. Setbacks are real and they happen to very successful people too. Those people who can get their job done probably didn’t start as well as they are now. Countless times would a scientist have to try experimenting before he could invent something so perfect.

Savoring our success comes with savoring our failures too. A goal coming from our blood, sweat, and endurance makes success taste much better than simply having to get it done easily.

What I’m trying to say is, sometimes experiencing a setback is necessary for growth. Our resilience is rooted in what we have experienced and learned from our past mistakes.

There is an equal probability that you would not get the job done as much as you would get it done. So what are we going to do about it, if it happens?

Mindful tips in dealing with setbacks

When I deal with my problems, I have to admit it, I don’t feel at my best. I struggle with keeping my emotions under the surface. But when I understood what it was to be mindful, I kind of learned how to calmly assess my emotions.

Instead of allowing my negative thoughts and feelings building up inside me, I practice how to gradually remove them from my body.

What I do is that I take a second or maybe take some rest from everything. I figured a good nap helps me renew my thoughts; like starting with a different perspective.

If you ever encounter setbacks, mindfulness may help improve your mindset. Here are a few tips that may help you deal with your own setbacks.

Consider your feelings

Allow space for what you feel when you’re experiencing a setback. Don’t try to ignore it and brush it off because it wouldn’t be healthy not dealing with your emotions.

Trust me, the first thing that you want to practice when under these circumstances is the way that you handle yourself. Grace under pressure, my friend. Go through your problem gently.

Being mindful teaches us to make aware of our thoughts and feelings but encourages us not to dwell on them, as they always come and go. When under the circumstance, ask yourself, how do you feel right now? Are you frustrated? Has your setback made you feel upset? If so, recognize that feeling. Let it come and let it go.

Learn how to channel your feelings by reading my posts about how negativity can simply ruin your life.

Assess the situation

Take a step back and look at the situation objectively. What happened? Why did you think it happened? When you’ve done setting time to consider your feelings, this step may help you ease the possibility of being too emotionally involved once you face your setbacks.

Evaluating our present situation in an objective manner may ease the pressure that it brings to us. It’s like looking at a bigger picture of the situation and addressing it with equanimity and compassion.

Don’t let your emotions get ahead of you. Setbacks are supposed to be designed not to break you but to become more resilient. Take a look at it that way.

Focus now

Imagine failing to do the job that your boss entrusted you with because some situations happened out of your control. You were so upset that you couldn’t let go of the idea and you torture yourself with “what ifs”.

Additionally, you worry that this might cost you your employment, and as a result, you couldn’t focus on your other tasks effectively.

You cling on to what happened in the past and you keep worrying about the future. This distracts you from the possibilities that can happen in the present moment.

Focus now, because now is where you can do something. Now is where you have control over.

The future isn’t here yet. And even if you failed to comply with what happened before, you still can’t be so sure about the future. Holding on to these two ideas can negatively affect what you can do now, and being mindful means you have to be present at the moment. What’s in front of you is where you have power over.

Ask yourself what you can do at this moment

This is the “now what?” part of dealing with your setbacks. The ball is over the fence, it is what it is; now what can you do about it? If you let go of your worries about what your boss would tell you tomorrow, you can start working on other tasks he gave you, and maybe you can improve on those to compensate for your drawbacks.

Here’s the thing; you can’t change what happened. It’s out there, and the only thing that would make a difference between the past and the future are the decisions that you make from here on out, and the lessons that you learned from it.

One thing you can also do at this moment is to learn from your shortcomings. Perfection isn’t a one-shot deal. As I said, setbacks can help you grow and improve your techniques so that you may decrease the chances of failing again.

Start again and focus on your strengths

Pick yourself up and start again. Once you’ve moved on from what happened, don’t be afraid to experience another setback along the way of your progress. Focus on your strengths and be mindful of your weaknesses too.

Figure out which factors would eventually build a mishap. Sometimes, it can be about the things you find hard to distinguish, like this great article I read about having mental blind spots.

For example, I know that I lose productivity with blogging when I’m mentally tired. But I also know that reading is my strength.

To prevent a setback from happening, you can use both your weakness and strength to balance your progress carefully. I take a break from writing when my mind is on a downbeat, and then I read articles that could help me get a vision for my next blog post.

Expect another setback

I have read that a successful person always expects a setback to happen. It’s good to be the goal-oriented type as long as you also consider the whole picture– including those that can lead you to fail. Be open to all the possibilities that could happen when you set your goal.

Establish your backup plans. The only way to prevent a setback from impeding your progress is to be ready for it. Be open-minded about changes you’re willing to do, and sacrifices you have to take into account.

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What I want to tell you is: I get it. I struggle with my own setbacks too. And sometimes, it takes longer for me to get back up before I can address those problems. But one thing I can say I consistently do is I slow it down when I feel that things may go sideways.

I hope you learn from these mindful tips to overcome setbacks in your life. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Take a beat, and restart your mind. 🙂

How do you handle your setbacks? Are there any tips you found in this post that may apply to you? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Like, Comment, and Share this post, and good karma will come to you. Hihi

For more posts about my Mindfulness journey, you can click here.

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  • nianni

    Lovely post Elle, I like how you talked about your setbacks and I love that you took the time to define a setback and the tips on how to deal with them. For me I see a setback as a means for me to step up.

  • Natasha

    I usually handle my setbacks with a good old cry 😆 but then I just think that’s quite normal for me. I then get over myself and try to fix what might have gone wrong

  • Beaton

    i am beginning to suspect I am only truly me when I am in a setback haha because when things are going great I keep looking around for the next setback that could happen and then when it does I tell myself I knew things were to good….


    • Elle

      I remember the lyrics on Sam Smith’s song, “too much of a good thing wont be good for long, watch where I tread before I fall”
      But when things are going great for you, just take a minute, B. Good things don’t always come around so if it does just pause and welcome it. <3 :) *hugs you*

  • Brooke Ressell

    I love your tip on asking yourself what I can do in this moment. I think that would help a lot when you feel like you have had a setback.

  • brittshedhappens

    Great tips. Setbacks are an inevitable part of life, something that we will all have to face at one time or another. The way that you choose to manage them is what will decide whether they tear you down or propel you forward. As you said, they are often an opportunity for growth. You just have to be willing to accept that growth in your life.

    • Elle

      I’m glad you found these tips relatable! :)) Thank you so much for being here, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it. xo

  • thewheelchairteen

    Thanks for the advice! The most effective tactic for me is usually changing my perspective and focusing on my strengths like you said. It may take some time for me to realise what they are, but it always helps. For instance, I was really upset after I messed up a deal with a client in my freelance editing job. I was angry for a few days, but I soon realised that I didn’t have any time to take on another job, and I learned some valuable lessons about negotiating. Thank you for sharing <3

    • Elle

      Oh, that’s great! I’m sure you can find another one that you’re absolutely gonna get! 😉 You write incredibly and I’m sure it’ll help you get what you want! Thanks so much for finding this post relatable. I hope you get to practice some other tips too! 🙂 Thanks for being here! xo

  • Jaya Avendel

    Oh, setbacks! When I was pursuing new working opportunities and querying my book, even now as I am writing a poetry book, there are setbacks. I lose motivation, I have no time, something happens.
    It can be very discouraging, but I have found that I have to find what it takes to move forward and that usually involves some life reflection and thought on what is getting in my way and how I can solve it.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Elle

      Reflections or self-assessments are really helpful to understand ourselves. Sometimes we lose motivation and we don’t even know why, I totally get this. But in time, as you focus on yourself, I know you’ll learn much more about you. Be kind to yourself, Jaya. You’re doing just absolutely fine. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts! xo

    • Elle

      It is actually really hard. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. Am I gonna continue, or just gonna bail? Before, it was really easier for me to bail but I realized, my problem isn’t going anywhere either. Sometimes we just have to, yes, remain positive and stay in the moment! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pooja! :> xo

    • PoojaG

      Yeah my anxiety is always like bail but I’ve realised that it doesn’t help it just prolongs problems. It’s better to just face the situation and hope for the best. My pleasure!

  • Joana

    I used to call myself a “cotton” cause I absorb negativity quickly. 😅 Setbacks for me causes breakdowns, I usually handle it poorly by sleeping all the time, eating unhealthy foods and basically not caring about myself until I’m ready again. But now I’m stronger to face problems, like you said expect another setback. Expect the worst and hope for the best is such a great way to deal with life, it saves me from all disappointments. 😅

    • Elle

      Hi, Joana! I totally agree with you, expect for the worst and maybe hope for the best. <3 It's good that you know how your body react to negativity. I also tend to sleep all the time and just lying down like all day. :(( I'm glad we're getting better now and that you find this post very relatable. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Joana! xo

  • alisonkwolf

    Setbacks are an unfortunate part of life that you have to learn to deal with. You need to develop a strong mindset ‘thick skin’ to deal with them and ensure that you have backup support in place such as a strong network of friends who are useful in a variety of things

    • Elle

      I agree, friends can really be a big help. I love spending time with them whenever I feel depressed. I also love sharing secrets and opening up problems with them. <3 Thanks for sharing this, Alison! xo

  • The Seb

    It is these set backs that make us strong, and every time we encounter a set back, we refer back to when such a thing happened and how we managed to pull through successfully.
    It is a good thing to encounter setback because they transform us into leaders.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Elle

      Hi, Seb! Actually, I agree with you. Sometimes we remember those worse things that happened that we managed to overcome. and it provides us strength to endure what we encounter now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I hope you have a great day, Seb. 🙂 xo

    • The Seb

      Oh yes. I speak from experience and that is why I began blogging. Life is simple, we only complicate it with too many theories. I go practical. Thanks Elle.

  • hariandbooks

    these are wonderful tips.
    can relate to so many points here.
    dealing everything in life with mindfulness is the best way to achieve success.
    thanks for sharing your awesome thoughts.

    • Elle

      Oh, I’m glad the universe made a way for you to read this. Haha Brittany, thank you so much for being here and for appreciating this post. Much love! x

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