Setbacks: Are They Harmful or Helpful?

Regardless of how you define a setback, it usually is totally unexpected and can stop us dead in our tracks! Setbacks are inconvenient, frustrating, and always involve bad timing. They can lead to unwanted stress, self doubt, anxiety, and constant worrying about the unknowns and the what ifs.

Fitness setbacks by far are the worst! We’ve all experienced them at some point. You’re training for a competition and you pull a muscle, sidelining you for a few weeks or it’s peak week and you come down with pneumonia. The mental anguish alone is worse than the injury or illness itself! All that hard work put in just to be sidelined? UGH!

When setbacks occur, how do you handle them? I’ve had my fair share of major detours in life and, “way back when,” I was quite good at playing the role of the victim taking the “woe is me” approach. However, I quickly discovered that resisting the circumstances only dug me deeper in the trenches of disparity. I finally realized that maybe these detours were happening for a reason. Looking back over the years, I realized that my most difficult and painful times and setbacks happened to improve the quality of my life and the situations surrounding them. It was as if the universe was throwing bricks at me to get my attention urging me to acknowledge present mistakes that I was making and forcing me to painstakingly turn around, regroup, and start to move forward!

You see, I believe setbacks don’t happen TO us, they happen FOR us. Sometimes you lose what you want in order to find what you need! I see life’s setbacks intentionally happening to give us a wake-up call to stop, reassess, and realign us back in the right direction.

We all inadvertently make mistakes. Most of the time, the universe sends us small hints or red flags warning us about certain situations or circumstances detrimental to us. Unfortunately, most of those times, we have our blinders on, ignoring the big picture as we continue to move down a tormented path. We become so focused on certain things. Our peripheral vision narrows not allowing us to see the big picture. Then, we get blindsided and wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” not realizing the answers were right in front of us all along!

I know there are times when life throws us curve balls, makes us jump through hoops, leads us straight into a wall, yanks money out of our wallets, forces us to go on a detour, and just downright makes us cry. However, sometimes when things are falling apart, they really are falling into place!

What is my advice when setbacks occur? Own the consequences of the setbacks but don’t dwell in them or beat yourself up over them. Look at the big picture with your eyes wide open. Be observant, take those blinders off and be receptive to what the universe is trying to tell you! Don’t resist change and make necessary positive adjustments to get yourself back on track. Realize that some setbacks are quick fixes and others may take time, but with the right mindset, a positive approach and a solid support group, setbacks can be overcome and used as powerful tools and life lessons, helping avoid future mistakes, and building a better, stronger, wiser YOU!

By Helen Fritsch


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