Love Yourself Through a Setback to Bounce Back 10x Stronger

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Nobody plans on having a setback. In fact, setbacks usually happen when all of our plans fall through or are interrupted unexpectedly. They come in the form of break ups, losing a job, illness, injuries, divorce, debt, accidents, loss of a loved one, nervous break downs and natural disasters. They are an inevitable part of life. We cannot predict our setbacks but we can choose how we are going to respond and move through them. How we do this can determine our entire future for better or for worse.

I don’t share this much because it is still painful to bring up, but I have lost some of my closest friends to the destruction caused by setbacks. When I reflect back on what altered their future, it was never the setback itself, but how they handled themselves in the aftermath. They lost themselves completely in hard drugs, toxic relationships, manipulative friendships, and fell into a pattern of self-destruction. It’s possible that they have since turned their lives around, and I hope they have. However, the unravelling I witnessed, wounded them far more than the setback that catalyzed their destructive behavior thereafter.

I have also witnessed many of my closest friends and family members thrive after a setback. After one of my friends lost his brother and his dad within weeks of each other, I saw how he bravely pulled himself together and created a better life for himself. After a devastating divorce, I witnessed my sisters journey to obtain her master’s degree, become a life coach, and become a dance teacher.  After an unexpected illness and being overwhelmed by hospital bills, I’ve seen another friend courageously push through and pursue a prestigious career. All of these choices were not easy, and I am sure that they are still healing from these traumatic events. Yet, instead of allowing their setback to destroy their life, they used it as an opportunity to expand themselves and grow beyond the person they were before. They chose the path of courage, resiliency, and self-love.

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In my own life, I have faced multiple setbacks. Courage and resiliency came naturally to me, but it wasn’t until my break down four years ago that I learned to apply self-love. This improved my recovery more than anything else. With courage and resiliency, I could overcome my setbacks by taking action and achieving external goals. This allowed me to get out of dangerous, uncomfortable, and stagnant situations, but never allowed me to heal internally. As a result, each setback felt more challenging to overcome and I often blamed myself for the setback, which morphed into a mountain of guilt that just kept growing.

When I finally turned to self-love, I could move through my setbacks with more intention and grace. I learned more about myself by turning inward, and was able to tend to my wounds as they opened, rather than let them fester and worsen. Loving myself through setbacks has allowed me to bounce back 10x stronger than I was before. However, self-love is not always natural for me. It’s a choice that I take action towards every day – especially when I have a setback. Why? Because we learn the most about ourselves when things don’t go according to plan. How we handle the hardships in life forms our character exponentially more than when our life is going swimmingly.

The next time you face a setback, choose self-love. Do not expect it to appear organically, or for it to stick around. You must take action and choose it every single day. When you do, you will be able to create a better future for yourself, not despite of your setback, but because of it.

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Here are 8 Ways to Love Yourself Through a Setback to Bounce Back 10x Stronger!

1) Pull back and say “I am important.”

Before discovering self-love, I would often respond to setbacks by creating new goals for myself. While these goals allowed me to achieve great things, they also served as a distraction from really tending to myself. Now, instead of taking drastic action right away I slow down and literally pull back from everything I am doing. When I feel my mind racing with all the seemingly important things I have to get done, I place my hand on my heart and say “I am important.” When I do this, I am giving myself permission to put myself first and take care of myself. If you are someone who tends to places a high importance on everything else but yourself, try doing this, and experience how healing it is to prioritize your well-being.

2) Ask yourself what areas need healing. Tend to those.

We all have four realms of self: physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. During a setback, it’s crucial that you take a meaningful look at each of these areas in your life and ask yourself what area is wounded. It could be just one, or it could be multiple. Once you pinpoint the area that is calling your attention, make a list of all the actions you can take to heal. This could be as simple as resting or eating more nutritiously, or it could be as complex as forgiving someone or setting boundaries. If it is a more complex action, you can break it into multiple action steps. Choose one of your action steps to incorporate right away and keep adding more as you feel fit.

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3) Aim to improve 5% each day.

It can feel overwhelming to try and bounce back 100% right after a setback. When I do this, it sets me up for failure and makes me turn to self-blame. Recovering from a setback comes in consistent small action. That’s why I like to use the 5% rule. Every day, I pause and ask myself “how can I improve at least 5% today?”  This was especially impactful when I was going through a deep period of depression. Reaching happiness seemed impossible, so I had to focus on all the small things I could do to slowly move to a better place. These were simple actions like flossing my teeth, getting dressed, making my bed, and going on a walk. These actions all added to one another, and made it easier to take bigger actions down the road like reaching out for help and seeing a therapist.

4) Remember that a setback does not erase the growth you’ve already made.

I want to use the example again of experiencing depression and anxiety, because It is something I will always have to deal with to some degree, and it is something that so many of us go through. I have worked extremely hard to improve my mental health. When I dip into depression or anxiety after a string of days, months, or even years of feeling great it is hard not to panic. My mind instantly cries out “not this again” and I get scared that all my hard work had zero impact. This couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why I have to remind myself that my setbacks do not erase the growth I’ve already made. I remind myself of what I have learned, and tell myself that any setback is a call to love myself even harder than before. This helps me to stabilize myself and not fall into abyss.

This can apply to pretty much any setback. Maybe you wanted to start working out and you experience an injury that forces you to rest. Instead of focusing on your frustration, try and learn from your experience. Maybe your form was off, or you pushed yourself too hard too fast. Acknowledge yourself for learning something you didn’t know before, and make the necessary adjustments moving forward. Maybe you lost your job and feel hopeless. Remember what got you your job in the first place, and what skills you developed in your work experience. You already know how the job application process works, and you have new skills to add to your resume. You are not starting from ground zero, you are progressing beyond the place you were before. If you find your mind immediately thinking “all is lost” after a setback, try to remember this.

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5) Ask for support.

No one can get through a setback alone, we have to lean on one another through tough times. Maybe this means reaching out and getting professional help, or grabbing matcha with a friend, or asking your brother to buy you some chunky monkey ice cream when you’re upset and all you want to do is watch chick flicks (yes, I have literally done ALL of these things. Especially the last one). Remember you are not alone, and you do not have to face life’s challenges alone.

If verbally asking for support feels too challenging, don’t underestimate the power of human touch, one of the most healing sources known to man. Give your loved ones a hug, schedule a massage, kiss your lover, hold your grandmas hand. All these actions that involve human touch will help you to feel seen, comforted and valued. They will help you bounce back stronger than ever by decreasing any feelings of loneliness that might creep up on you.

6) Celebrate your EVERY win.

When faced with a setback it’s easy to look at where you are failing and everything that is going wrong in life. To counteract this, set aside dedicated time each week to write out or share all your wins for the week. You can write in a journal, post your wins on social media, or simply share your wins over dinner. These could be major breakthroughs or small accomplishments. The more you acknowledge yourself and your progress, the easier it will be to overcome any obstacle.

7) Allow yourself to grieve.

Do not ignore the pain that your setback caused you. This might alleviate your hurt initially, but eventually it will come back up again and you will be forced to confront it. I know this because I have done this countless times. Now, the grief I didn’t process is entering back into my life asking for attention. To avoid this, allow yourself to grieve as soon as possible, but don’t give it a time frame. Grieve for the harm the setback caused you and the life you could have had otherwise. Cry, scream, lay in bed, be sad, be angry, let it all move through you. None of these feelings are bad, they just need attention so they can run their course.

Giving yourself permission to feel whatever you need to feel, without judgement, is an enormous act of tough self-love. It’s not easy. Especially if you were not taught how to tend to your emotions growing up. Now that you are an adult, you have an opportunity to re-parent yourself. It takes practice, but it will become more natural over time.

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8) Envision your life beyond the setback.

When you are in the midst of a serious setback, it can feel like you will be stuck there forever. It’s at this point where you must decide to see beyond your setback and envision a better future, even if it feels out of reach and impossible. The more attention and power you give to this vision, the more likely you will be to take actions that are aligned with your higher self instead of actions that lead to self-destruction. Having a vision for yourself also gives you a purpose, which can give you motivation and courage to do whatever it takes to get you there. The key is to have a clear vision of what you desire for yourself without being attached to the process of getting there. Instead, allow yourself to be open to the opportunities that might lead you down the right path, and you will create or find them.

The summer after my Junior year of college, I was devastated to learn that I didn’t have enough money to return to school and finish my senior year. At the time, I was interning in D.C. full time, and working a hosting job late into the evening. I knew that I had to find a way to finish college and get my degree but I didn’t know how. Every morning before my internship, and every evening after my second job, I researched ways I could solve this problem. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to make it happen. Finally, I decided that if I could take the first semester off of school, I could work, save money, and apply to scholarships that would allow me to graduate on time. It wasn’t the ideal situation, and I would have preferred to go back to school at the same time as all my friends, but it worked. I moved to Chicago with my Aunt and Uncle, worked at Neiman Marcus, and was awarded a scholarship that covered my tuition. While this was one of the most challenging times of my life, it was also one of the most rewarding. It was during this setback that I discovered the powers of self-love that changed the trajectory of my entire life. It was a perfect example of how a setback can be a gift in disguise, make you stronger, and launch you forward in life!

To practice envisioning your life beyond a setback you can use a variety of tools. You can go to a quiet place and ask for inner guidance, or guidance from a higher power. You can make a vision board from cut out magazines, or using Pinterest. You can use guided meditations that facilitate the process of visioning. You can place your hand on your heart and picture your biggest dream coming true. Whatever path you take, try to make your vision as sensory as possible. What does your envisioned life look like, feel like, smell like, taste like? The more detail you give it, the more you will be able to identify when it is coming true.

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At their core, setbacks are a call for you to love yourself deeper.

They are life’s way of challenging you to grow, expand yourself and develop more into your higher self.

You get to choose if you will meet this challenge.

You have the power to make the right choice.

Now I want to hear from you! What time in life did you feel setback and how did you overcome it? If you are facing a setback right now, what suggestion above will help you most? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. If you know someone who could really hear this message right now, please share! You could really help turn their life around!

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