5 Ways to Handle Setbacks Before They’ve Even Happened
My next surgery date has been booked in.
June 7th. Three and a half weeks, or 23 days from now. June 7th falls on a Wednesday, otherwise known colloquially as Hump Day. The only hump I’ll experience is the metaphorical hump in the road. Wait, that sounds wrong. OhmiGOSH that sounds so wrong! Can I take that back?! No, no I didn’t mean that I’d be getting a ‘hump’ on June 7th, metaphorical or otherwise. I only wrote ‘hump’ because it rhymes with ‘bump’ and I was trying to be clever by reinventing the old classic saying – you know – when there’s a ‘bump in the road’ – surgery on a Wednesday, hump-day = opportunity for pun, ‘hump in the road’??
How do I always get myself in these situations.
7 days after June 7th, and it’ll have been 6 months since I first snapped my Achilles.
You all know that over this time, I have been challenged as much mentally as I have physically, and that as a typically active human being, this injury has toyed a little with my identity.
But you also know that when something ‘bad’ happens, while initially it can be hard to make sense of, there are inevitably hidden positive lessons every single step of the way (mind pun).
And this got me thinking – in life, when things are going smooth, it’s pretty easy to get complacent when it comes to looking out for number one – which means that when setbacks happen, we haven’t trained ourselves in a way that buffers negative thought processes from setting in.
So today, I want to teach you what I’ve learnt from this seemingly never-ending journey, because while you may never snap your Achilles (I PRAY YOU DON’T), I’m sorry to say that it’s very likely that you will face unexpected and sudden change in life. BUT – never fear, because there are ways to ensure that your resilient foundations are as strong as possible – starting now.
Here are my top 5 tips for handling setbacks in life before they’ve even happened.
- Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t
I remember I wrote a blog post about this concept after I first snapped my Achilles, and a few people made reference to the fact that it was great I had come to this realization so quickly. Even I thought I was being particularly good about this unexpected setback – but back then, I obviously had no idea of the saga this injury would become.. I think in life, at all times, we should train our brains to focus on what is possible, on what we can achieve, on what we are capable of doing right this very second, so that we are always able to have this mindset when life throws us the unexpected. For example, rather than focus on the fact that I can’t walk, I focus on the fact that I can handstand walk, even with a snapped Achilles. Even though I can’t drive my manual, I can ride a Sonny-Bill Williams-style knee scooter and channel my inner 5 year old. Even though I can’t wear two shoes, I wash half as many socks as I used to.
And so, however creative, the positives just keep getting weirder and better.
2) Find ways to keep challenging yourself and innovating with your new set of circumstances
You know when you were a kid and crutches seemed so cool?! I don’t believe that concept ever changed. People are often surprised when I say that I am still having fun on crutches even this far in, and no word of that is a lie! You can swing, you can lean, you can try and balance by using just your arms.. You can sit against a wall and do crutch-tuck ups! Crutches make for a great personal space barrier, fire stoker and percussion instrument. Plus, when you get tired, you can prop your bad leg up via the arm rest, lean on the other crutch and try to channel the same amount of swag as Kenicke from Grease. The ways in which I can get a little innovative are only as limited as my imagination. I am lucky that the odds are in my favour in terms of my age and overall health, but by being on crutches, even though my leg strength has suffered (wasn’t no way around that..), my back and arm muscles have become pretty aiiiite – so much so, that I’m wondering how to keep my newfound strength once all is said and done! We have two choices – to let our circumstances beat us, or to embrace them and discover new-found vigour. Insofar as possible, pick the latter, every time.
3) Discover and commit to changing aspects of your life you’d like to work on and improve
There are so many stories of setbacks which have changed people’s lives for the better, of near-death experiences which have made people ‘wake up’ and start living the life they always dreamed of. I believe that this is because when we are faced with something life altering, even if it’s short term, we grow and change through it rather than against it, and thus will never be the same person we were before that experience. Negative experiences force us to sit back, to reflect, to think about what we want and why we weren’t doing it when we were able to. We realize that in ‘normal’ life, we spend 99% of the time being complacent about our hopes and desires because we always believe that we have time. But really – the only time is now – so start, begin, leap, just GO. Whether things are good or bad – but especially when they are good – we gotta make the most of it.
4) Foster positive relationships and cull the bad
This sounds ruthless. And in some ways, for us people-pleasers, it is. But if there’s anything that this experience has clarified for me, it’s the importance of making the most of your time by making sure it is spent with the people who care about you and who want the best for you unconditionally. The sad reality is that some people only want to be around with you when you are at 100%. And that’s ok – but only if you personally are happy with that. This experience has taught me the importance of not just valuing the relationships that are meaningful, but the importance of valuing your time when it comes to deciding who you will spend it with. The clarity I’ve gained in this respect has been second to none – and my life, my aspirations and my resilience have improved ten-fold because of it. With this newfound knowledge, I’ve realized that even if it is a little ruthless, it’s also extremely necessary to cull the negative, draining and conditional energies out of our lives if we want to become everything we know we can be. Us Hustlers need strong support crews and cheerleaders, even if we do give off a bit of a tough and independent exterior! Plus, when we surround ourselves with the people who make us feel positive and progressive – we become a source of that for them. #SQUADGOALS
5) Slow down and see what good exists in the world
Some people stare at my injury before they acknowledge me as a person. Some people might get frustrated if I’m a little slow crutching down the street. Some people open doors for me because they want to be seen doing it rather than because they want to. And that’s ok – because in contrast to this, there are strangers who genuinely empathize, people who make me feel empowered, who give me hope, who slow down with me and help me feel energized and optimistic, because that’s just who they are. It’s important we notice and appreciate the good people and the good things in this life – because magic exists there – and we are all better for allowing ourselves to witness and appreciate a little magic, every single day.
If you look at those 5 points, I hope you can see why I titled this blog post what I did. It’s because we shouldn’t need to go through a setback to start taking action on these things. We should work on these things every day so that when life hands us a lemon, we say thanks for the opportunity, I’ma make a margarita, and from there – we continue to grow, learn and be challenged in fresh ways with a fresh cocktail in hand. Because at the end of the day – nothing is ever going to go as planned – and that truth is all part of the fun!
Did you find this article useful? Which tip was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!