“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.” George Bernard Shaw
This is one of my favorite quotes because it holds so much value. One of the best lessons we can learn in life is that we will have setbacks. Everyone will. Period. The next best lesson we can learn is that setbacks don’t need to stop or control us. Instead, life’s setbacks can become valuable lessons on the road to happiness and fulfillment. Let’s take a look for common setbacks and ways to navigate them successfully.
Grief is one of the most difficult emotions to manage. Particularly in the cases of an unexpected death or death under tragic circumstances, the shock of the loss can lead to an onslaught of emotion that can bring our own happiness to a standstill. The key to successfully managing this shock and devastation is to try to remember to celebrate the life of the person you loved more than you remind yourself of the circumstances of their death. It’s also a good idea to remind yourself that it will get better. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow. Don’t rush grief. Allow yourself to fully experience your grief and to heal on your own healthy timeline.
The loss of a job can have more than dire financial setbacks. In many cases, it can mean the loss of self-definition. Losing a job does not mean you need to lose sight of yourself. In fact, it can be an opportunity for valuable self-discovery or rediscovery. It can be an opportunity to turn a skill or hobby into a thriving business. It can also be the opportunity to find a different kind of work that might prove more fulfilling.
Very few people go into a marriage anticipating divorce. Similar to the loss of a job, the demise of a marriage can bring on many questions of fault and blame. The sudden loss of your life’s partner can leave you questioning yourself, your image and appearance, and your sexuality. Support groups and trained professionals can help you learn to navigate divorce in healthy ways and to come to terms with the loss of your marriage. Remind yourself, too, that you found love before and love will not elude you when you’re ready to find it, again.
Few things are more difficult to deal with mentally, physically, and emotionally than a sick child. The demands they make on your time and attention frequently pull you away from everything else going on around you. While this is a setback that can leave you with lifelong responsibilities, it needn’t leave you with lifelong guilt or regret. One of the best ways to take care of your child is to take care of yourself. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to properly care for your child because you cannot care for them if you are not at your best.
Life has many setbacks, many obstacles, many twists and turns. These setbacks are never easy to deal with, but they can be learned from. Remind yourself of how you’ve handled and come through previous setbacks, strive for optimism, and be honest with yourself about your emotions along the way. Allow yourself to simply feel. Life is a journey – one that should be enjoyed despite its occasional disruptions. Remember these wise word of Lucy Maude Montgomery, “Tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes in it.” Lucy Maude Montgomery
1. Be Grateful
We all have times that are not so good. But we also have plenty for which to be grateful. Sometimes it’s the small but valuable aspects of our lives that we don’t stop to appreciate. Or it may be the people and other gifts that we take for granted. When we step back and look, we see many people less fortunate than ourselves. You can probably think of several people who would gladly trade places with you, despite your difficulties. To lead a more fulfilling life, write down at least one thing you are grateful for, each day. You’ll be surprised how long that list can get, over time.
2. Worry Less
How often do you trouble yourself with matters of little consequence? It is estimated that 90% of what we stress-out about doesn’t ever occur. But stress can disturb your mind and take a toll on your health. There are so many things that are behind our control, and worrying never has any real impact on them. So there is no need to waste energy worrying, torturing yourself, and punishing your mind. Put that extra thought and energy into something positive that you do have the power to control and influence.
3. Forgive People, Especially Yourself
You’ve heard it before, that holding on to bitterness and resentment is like drinking your own poison. We all know of someone who hasn’t let go of their anger or bitterness, and over the years it has caused them to grow more unhappy and unhealthy. You don’t want to wind up like that, missing out on the best life has to offer because you’re stuck on some unfortunate feelings from the past. Nobody’s perfect, and life isn’t always fair. But forgiveness can set you free…so forgive those who may have done wrong, including yourself.
4. Focus Forward
Our eyes are in front of us for a reason, and yesterday is forever gone. Don’t waste your valuable time with all the “coulda” and “shouda.” Focus instead on how you can shape your future with the thoughts and actions that happen right now in the present moment. We learn from our mistakes or by observing the mistakes of others. But dwelling on them doesn’t fix anything. The more you put your attention on what you can do today, to help ensure that tomorrow will be better, the greater and sooner your success will be.
5. Surround Yourself with Realistic Optimists
It’s so important to have a circle of friends who are realistic, but also inspired and positive about life and living. The people in our life have a tremendous influence on us. Their attitude can be contagious…in either a positive or negative way. So carefully and wisely choose your friends. In dealing with day-to-day life,we will sometimes encounter setbacks, rejection, challenges, and misfortunes. But surrounding yourself with the optimistic realists can make life easier and provide more joy, while giving you the support to get you through the difficult times.
As a psychotherapist and family violence counselor, I see firsthand just how much emotional stress a divorce can cause. Oftentimes the negative, unhealthy repercussions linger for years – and can even have a harmful multigenerational impact on families, far into the future.
Many individuals who experience the difficult challenge of divorce are unable to successfully resolve issues related to jealousy, anger, a need for control, or emotional immaturity. But these reactions can wreak havoc on their lives, while causing unnecessary pain and suffering for their children.
Divorce is almost always stressful. Individuals may fear losing their children in a hostile custody battle. Even when custody is shared, they may be afraid that the quality of their good relationship with their kids may be at risk. They may also feel vulnerable because their home, property, and financial security could be taken away from them.
But when that tension and pressure is not managed in an appropriate way, it can cause serious emotional and psychological trauma…and lead to regrettable choices and behaviors.
Many times an ex will feel that they have been unfairly treated and that can lead to resentment, anger, and envy. I have witnessed many instances where one of the partners will try to create difficulty for their ex. They may make it hard for that person to move on with their life, and they may attempt to sabotage their chances to engage in new relationships.
Exes may also attempt to use their kids as leverage in a divorce case, or to make the other partner feel guilt. I know of cases whereby men withheld child support, for instance, as a means of manipulation and control over the mother. In other cases, females have created obstacles to alienate the father or prohibit him from picking up their child(ren) when the father clearly has legal visitation rights.
Tragically, this kind of desire to control out of anger is one of the main causes of emotional trauma and sometimes violence between people going through a divorce or trying to come to grips with the aftermath of divorce. If you believe that you are somehow entitled to control your ex because you had kids together, you need to rethink that. You ONLY have control over your own actions and decisions. Remember that the trauma divorcees inflict on their children while trying to use them as pawns can create lifelong problems for those kids, that are difficult to fix.
If your marriage is long over and you find yourself STILL actively seeking an apology or drawn out explanations about what triggered your contentious marriage or divorce, that is unhealthy. It can hinder your ability to move on and find the stability and happiness you deserve, and it can damage your relationship to your children.
Consider speaking with a professional divorce counselor. They can help you come to terms with awareness, accountability, and mature responsibility. They can support you to gain the courage and acceptance you need to heal. They can assist you in letting go of your anger, frustration, or jealousy…so that you can get on with enjoying your life.
The need for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment
Abuse of drugs and alcohol impairs judgment, makes it harder to exercise self-control, and often triggers or exacerbates emotional outbursts and violent behavior. That’s why it is so important – and has proven to be so effective – when the interrelated dynamics of Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence are both addressed at the same time. These correlated issues are often intertwined in deep-seeded and complicated ways that need to be unwound in order to successfully resolve the serious problems that they create.
Research indicates, for example, that half of all men who participate in domestic battering intervention programs also have a substance abuse problem. Similarly, half of the partnered men who enter a substance abuse treatment program have perpetrated domestic violence within the past year. Plus they are more than 10 times more likely to engage in violence directed at their partner on days that they have been drinking alcohol. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the level of fear felt by victims of Intimate Partner Violence quadruples when their partners are drinking.
Meanwhile, as many as half of all the women who receive victim services for Intimate Partner Violence are, themselves, substance abusers. Why is that? Sometimes substance abuse is used as self-medication against the constant stress, horrific fear, and emotional and physical pain inflicted on domestic violence victims. Intimate Partner Violence of Family Violence is never the fault of the victim. But on a related note, if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs they may become more vulnerable and less capable of protecting themselves. A violent partner may take advantage of that. Or a substance abuser may wind up in a place where substances are abused by others, and those environments increase the potential for danger and violence. When victims of violence develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common result of that kind of experience, their reliance on substance abuse is even more commonplace. That’s also the case when these victims don’t feel like they have anyone that they can safely talk to about what is happening to them.
What’s the solution-oriented takeaway from these disturbing statistics? Counseling and therapy that deals with both substance abuse and domestic violence is a more well-rounded approach to addressing the needs of victims. This kind of inclusive approach also provides the best opportunity for perpetrators of violence to face their issues, admit responsibility, accept accountability, and take effective, transformational steps to positively change their behavior.
Professionals and facilities with the experience, knowledge, skills, and resources to help resolve both kinds of issues – Intimate Partner Violence as well as Substance Abuse – are equipped to provide realistic and sustainable solutions for the benefit of everyone involved