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Crash 3 of 5

Surviving Setbacks 101

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Velo Steve
Have you ever been so mindlessly into auto pilot that you miss the obvious and find yourself face-planted in the middle of an oopsy? Ouch. How do you recover and roll on when that happens?

Apparently my niece-in-law Rikki knows.  Currently an out-of-country graduate school student, she relies on her bicycle to get around town. Recently she posted this Facebook remark:

What goes through my mind, on my bike ride home, while staring at the ground to make sure a pothole doesn’t sneak up on me again? Well the reason I hit the damn pot hole in the first place… “If you’re too focused on what’s ahead, you forget to notice what’s right in front of you.”

And then, in reply to a friend’s remark, “you just can’t win, can you?” she added:

Thought went through my mind… but I think that if you pay attention to what’s ahead and let it come into focus in its own time, and focus on what’s in front of you, you can make it work quite well.

Kudos to Rikki – she’s hanging on to her optimism despite an apparent string of setbacks. She’d get an “A” in Surviving Setbacks 101. Still, I guess it’s a good thing that Rikki’s not in Brazil:

We don’t have roads in Brazil. What we have are potholes interrupted by occasional patches of asphalt.

— Sérgio Mendes

Surviving on the Road of Life

I don’t know about you, but these days many folks might claim that their lives resemble Brazil’s roads: filled with troubles interrupted by occasional patches of good news.

Me? I’m currently recovering from several recent but miniscule pothole-episodes such as: shredding the new debit card instead of the old one; and not insisting that the retail store greeter check my purchases after the security system beeped me out the door – had I done that I wouldn’t have had to make a return trip in order to remove the security alarm from the watch I just bought. Tally up a threesome-more of such equally silly-little-mindless-autopilot mistakes and I was out a day or so of backtracking and fix-it time.  No biggie really.  Just annoyingly frustrating. And, just between you and me, I won’t tempt the devil by saying anything about larger potholes along my life path, I’ll just say, “Thank God” they weren’t anywhere near as disastrous as this one:

Lorton Road Wash Out

Life is not a straight road… It is a series of twists and turns, ups and downs. It is a real life game of snakes and ladders. Success comes for the person who keeps rolling the dice no matter how many times they end up back at the bottom of the ladder.

— Lee Cooper
The Perfect Career Guy

Recover and Roll On

How do you keep on rolling in the face of many potholes? How do you hold on to your optimism when every pessimist’s prediction is proving too-true? We’ve talked about that a lot, PattiAnn and I – there are plenty of our posts you can revisit if you’d like – just click on the word optimism.  But for now, I’d like to offer you some great Survival 101 suggestions from OPs – Other People…

Let’s start by taking the 100 Smile Challenge and consider these two tips:

Tip – Create a Clear Understanding of What You Want: Know the ultimate destination you would like to end up at then be open to the paths the universe presents to you. Know your end goal, but be open to an even better result, by seizing the opportunities that present themselves.

Tip – Find the Way Back to Luck-Making from Self Sabotage: Learn to evaluate your actions. Are your actions bringing you swiftly towards your desired outcome or delaying the satisfaction you ultimately seek? If self-sabotage is a factor for you, learn to pause before you take action to evaluate the action the makes the most progress at the time then learn to take the action in spite of self-limiting beliefs.

And yes, there are ten more tips you can check out for yourself in the 100 Smile Challenge post “B is for Build Resilience.

Sometimes it’s not your setback but that of someone close and important to you that must be survived. When that’s the case, Harriet Cabelly offers good advice in her guest post, The Power of Listening published on Tess Marshall’s wonderful blog, The Bold Life.

In the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, the narrator dog says, “I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly…Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.”

Reflect back and acknowledge their feelings. The greatest soothing ointment for the soul is feeling heard and understood…

We can’t create magic and make problems disappear. We can provide the support and comfort that can minimize some of the ‘aloneness’ one feels in his/her time of need, by Listening.

Listening seems like a great gift – maybe we should be giving it to ourselves as well as others?

Melody Cheal of GwizLearning recommends simply asking a simple question when facing less-than-perfect happenings:

This is where mindsets come into play. We could have got upset or angry or just plain disappointed. We could have launched a campaign to try and convince the planning department to let us have our own way. We didn’t do any of that we just asked ourselves a very important question: Okay what’s plan “B”.

She goes on to list six qualities that contribute to a successful bounce back; here are a couple. Or, you could click out to Melody’s Blog and enjoy reading her entire list:

  • Look beyond the obvious, get perspective, be creative and have vision. See what could be not just what is.
  • Let go of solutions and decisions that don’t work as soon as you realise, and let go joyfully!

On the Road Again…

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this mini-course in surviving setbacks – we would love to hear from you regarding your own time-tried bounce back techniques.

In the meantime, Rikki’s adventures have reminded me that Fall is the perfect season for bicycling so I’d best trim up the old bike and brain bucket so I can let her roll.

A bicycle does get you there and more. And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.

— Bill Emerson

Do you have a secret Setback Survival Tip you can share?

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Cup o’ Inspiration

cup with steam swirl

Take a short break and consider the following:

“If you spend all of your time racing ahead to the future, you’re liable to discover you’ve left a great present behind.”

Tom Wilson
American Comedian

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