When you face a setback, what happens in your thoughts?
Where does your mind go?
For most of us, our first thoughts aren’t happy or positive. This is normal after failure, rejection, or criticism. When something bad happens to me, i’ve learned feeling upset isn’t the problem. If we don’t feel upset, maybe we’re in denial of the facts.
Our lives have problems but we also have success. This is true for anyone setting goals and working to achieve their goals. This is you. This is me.
To recover fast, it’s what you do next that counts.
If i’m not careful, I turn instant worry into a smooth art. Much of my writing comes from personal experiences and reading of positive psychology and counselling research. The “oh no the world is ending” initial reaction stuff has hung around long enough for me to make a change in my thinking habits. This isn’t a one time action but a practice of new habits. It’s not easy but it is possible.
After bad news or a problem, we have two choices:
Bad news and setbacks are defined here as common problems we face in work and home life. These problems attack our thoughts and threaten our confidence.
Remember in past articles i’ve talked about common humanity. This is understanding the commonality of problems and we aren’t alone. My hope is this brings you some comfort.
If our initial reaction is “everything’s going to go badly” and we remain stuck in this thinking pattern, we feel yuk and risk stagnating. Subsequent emotions include fear, anxiety, depression, and disuse (meaning we don’t take action to help the situation).
Springboard thinking is a way to visualize how to recover your thoughts and emotions after a problem so you can be calm and rational.
I’m not talking about disaster or trauma. I encourage you to find a professional (counsellor, psychologist etc) to help you after these things.
To activate springboard thinking, visualise a diver on a springboard. In competition diving, there are five phases to a successful dive :
Below is a framework or roadmap to thinking well after a setback. The process mimics the stages of a successful dive.
Achievement creates risk and in risk, we sometimes fall. To survive the bumps and fears attacking our thoughts and emotions, we need a thinking roadmap. A way to land with beauty, grace and skill. We recover faster after setbacks though awareness, acceptance, mindfulness, and creating powerful thoughts so we can reach our goals and love our lives.
On a new page in your journal make three dot points down the page. In the first, write briefly about a setback or problem you experienced recently. Again, if this is a trauma or major event of loss, go for professional help. This exercise is more for common daily setbacks at home or work.
At the second dot point, write an immediate thought you had that wasn’t helpful to your confidence or happiness.
At the third dot point, write a powerful and hopeful thought about the event. This is a new way of seeing that is less disastrous and takes into account other plausible explanations. Activate self-compassion here.
 PLoS ref: de Boer MJ, Steinhagen HE, Versteegen GJ, Struys MMRF, Sanderman R (2014) Mindfulness, Acceptance and Catastrophizing in Chronic Pain. PLOS ONE 9(1): e87445. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087445
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I’m the creator of Minutes to Happy and your go-to counsellor and wellness coaching companion.
I’m here to guide you in becoming your bravest self (no matter what wellness worries and chronic health challenges are plonked in your path).