How To Bounce Back From A Setback

Sometimes, life sucks. Whether it’s a rejection letter from your dream school, an expensive and unexpected bill or a really tough breakup, everyone’s had one of those days. Setbacks are just as unexpected as life, but there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain and bring you back to who you were before the setback. Here are my top tips for bouncing back after a setback.

1. Focus on what you can control

One of the hardest parts of life is that it can be really unpredictable. The easy part is reminding yourself that you're not as helpless as you feel and that there are some things you can control. One of my favorite things to focus on when I'm dealing with a setback is adjusting my reaction to the situation. Not every situation requires you to go through the five stages of grief before you get over it. In fact, I try to look at my setback as something that was necessary for my growth. I know, I know, getting an email that rejected you from your dream internship doesn't feel like something that's going to help you grow, but some failures turn out to be blessings in disguise. When life gets sucky, I tend to flood myself with positive images and affirmations, especially when I have the urge to think negatively. My mom says the best way to beat a setback is with mental strength. Simply "changing the channel" on your mind is a habit that can improve your mental health and make the world seem a little less menacing.

2. Remember how you treated yourself before the setback

When you’re dealing with a setback, it’s so easy to beat yourself up about the situation. To prevent myself from feeling even worse, I like to remind myself of the positive things I did before the setback. For me, I always focus on the fact that I tried my best. Even if a situation doesn’t work out the way I want it to, I find comfort in the fact that I did my absolute best – no matter what. If you didn’t get the job you wanted, remind yourself of your hard work and try to be proud of yourself for what you did under the given circumstances. If you’re going through a rough breakup, remember the things you used to do, the people you used to talk to and the way you felt about yourself before you met that person. Though setbacks can make you feel powerless, remember that you can take control by taking actions to remind yourself that there are brighter days ahead.

3. Be willing to let go and move on

If I’m being honest, this is the hardest part of overcoming a setback in my eyes. It takes all of the strength in my body for me to not gag when I hear the phrase “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it wasn’t meant to be.” This quote does absolutely nothing for me, and if you’re anything like me, it can make you overthink and try to predict the outcome. Frankly, coming up with hypothetical situations isn’t going to do anything but make you feel worse. Accepting the result of your setback is something that may or may not take time, but once you’ve accepted it, you’ll be able to move on and start again; this time- without the help of cheesy quotes.

4. Lean on the people around you for support

My friends are an enormous part of my life. I always joke around and say that it takes a village to support me – but it truly does. When things go south, I know I have a list of friends and family that I can turn to if I need help. If I’m being real here, I’m an anomaly, and some people don’t have that kind of support. If you’re someone who’s thinking “Gee Cayela, good for you but what can I do?” My answer to you is to turn to social media. I know that social media doesn’t have the most positive reputation for mental health, but I find that the social media community can unite in unexpected ways when people are in distress. It’s becoming increasingly easy to find support groups on Facebook or find people who are going through a similar situation as you. When my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia I scrolled up and down Leukemia support group pages for days. Even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing how you’re feeling, reading other people’s thoughts who have had similar experiences to yours can make you feel less alone in the world.

5. Create a comeback playlist

This tip is one of my personal favorites. We've all heard how music is scientifically proven to change your mood, so why not beat your blues by blasting your favorite tunes? I admit that was a little corny, but seriously, make a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs and ask your friends for their favorite songs, too. As soon as you feel yourself falling down the rabbit hole of sadness and negativity, whip out your phone and hit shuffle. Your mind, body and soul will thank you later.

As Big Sean famously rapped in his song “Bounce Back," “Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.”

You, too, can bounce back from a setback as soon as you’re ready. I know setbacks can be intimidating and life-changing, but by changing your perspective, treating yourself well, leaning on friends and creating a playlist, you’ll be able to bounce back and move on from your setback in no time.