Recognizing the Silver Linings of Setbacks


Think back on how many times you have started on a journey to learn something new, to go on a journey, to reach a goal and then WHAM! A setback occurs. Some might just give up or turn back.

Instead, let’s look to find the silver linings.


First, let’s just acknowledge that setbacks happen. And they don’t just happen to you; they are part of life, part of learning and growing.

Aside from giving up, which in not an option here, you have two choices to overcome setbacks:


1. Change or alter the degree of difficulty (i.e., creating baby steps to your current steps, or finding alternative means to get to where you want to go), or


2. Change your mental attitude in order to deal calmly and logically to your setback


Learning how to deal with setbacks correctly will enhance your confidence; deal with them with a negative attitude and it can seriously harm your self-worth.


Responding to Setbacks

When you are faced with any setback – personally or professionally – managing it into a position of strength and positivity is possible by asking yourself empowering questions.

Too often, when we continue to experience setbacks, our subconscious mind, the one which has been collecting all the negative feedback since childhood will ask a cruel and victim-based question, like:


“Why does this always happen to me??”


And then it will typically answer:


“Because you are useless and stupid and therefore these things happen to you!”


We ALL know this isn’t true.

Instead, ask yourself helpful, positive, empowering questions:


“What can I do differently to get the outcome I want?”

“What is the lesson in this experience?”


By asking a logical and thoughtful question, your mind will automatically go into solution-mode. The answer(s) that you get are your silver linings. The experience you will gain from this is your silver lining. It may not be obvious right now, but it will over time.

Questions to recognize the Silver Linings to Setbacks

  • So what? Yes. “So what?”. Acknowledgment is key. Acknowledge that it has happened. Don’t hide from it. Sit in it. Things happen. So what?

  • What is good about this situation?

  • How can this be resolved?

  • How can I make the most of this situation (think lemons to lemonade)?

  • What can I learn from it?

  • What are the facts about this problem?

  • How can I/we create a successful outcome out of this?

Understand that when setbacks happen, you are not being singled out. They happen to everyone. All the time. Every day.


View them as a challenge to overcome rather than an impenetrable problem.

Pay attention to the negative thoughts that enter your mind when a setback occurs and change the narrative: what new empowering questions might you be able to ask to put your mind in solution-mode?


Whatever setback you incur, it will be natural to be upset and angry. And that’s OK. But don’t sit there long. Acknowledging that there is another way and creating a plan to overcome this setback will boost your confidence and set you up for success now and in the future.


Changing how you manage setbacks to in a more positive manner will boost your confidence and grow your critical thinking skills. This, in addition to the overall experience and the lessons learned from it are all silver linings which will open more doors for your personal and professional life.


The greatest opportunities are on the other side of change…

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