In a new year it rains good wishes. We wish each other health, happiness, prosperity and love. But what if the new year gives a setback? What if a family member dies, if your contract for work is not renewed or if your relationship ends? How can you handle this in such a way that at the end of 2020 you can say it was a good year? In this blog I will tell you.
Our automatic solution strategy
In my work as a psychologist I see many people who face difficulty on how to deal with setbacks. It is understandable, because we find it difficult to tolerate difficult emotions. We are inclined to think in terms of solutions and to continuously improve our lives.
When change or improvement fails, it can lead to lasting stress and anxiety. Events can also feel unfair, especially when they happen outside of your control. For example, I was treating an older lady. She had a whiplash due to an accident and could not work anymore. She could not accept that this had happened to her and continued to struggle with feelings of anger and powerlessness. It did not benefit her physical condition.
What to do then?
Sometimes it is not possible to overcome a setback yourself. The therapy form Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) provides wonderful insights. ACT assumes that our tendency to resolve difficulties and awkward emotions can have the opposite effect. Continuing to fight against the inevitable, whether life’s setbacks or our own fears, can stop us from taking the next step in life. Because of this we can get stuck in our frustration and fear.
Two things are needed to transform the situation: accept and move. Acceptance of reality is necessary to determine how we want to proceed and what steps we can take to achieve this. To determine how we want to proceed, it is necessary to know what we find important in life.
You can learn from setbacks
The answer to the question of what we find important in life can be found in the setbacks. What part about the loss of that job made you sad? Was it the nice colleagues, from which you can conclude that collegiality is important to you? Or was it the independence you got in that position, or the good salary? Maybe these are important values of an ideal job.
And what does it say about you that you are so afraid of losing a good friend? Does it perhaps say that you value the memories that you have built with this person or the shared interests?
The question: what have you learned from the setback?
Find out for yourself which setbacks you have had to endure (or what you fear is going to happen). What about this event affects you? Ask yourself what this says about your values in life.
Do you want help to deal with setbacks? An online session with a PsyQ psychologist can help you gain insight into your values and help you take steps.