Failure is an inevitable part of the human experience. How we respond to that failure is the key to fostering positive and growth-oriented mindsets. It is important to remember that life without failure and setback also means life with limited changes in perspective, mindful growth, and character development. Post-Setback Growth aims to create positive mindset and behavioral changes that approach adversities with a resilient, growth-oriented, and productive outlook. We strive to not only recover from and remove the suffering, but to become greater in the process.
The psychological term “post-traumatic growth” may ring a bell. At Long Island Psychology we wanted to broaden this therapeutic term to apply to all kinds of setback situations, not only ones that we may label as traditionally traumatic. Setbacks can constitute a range of different events and experiences, from a particular aversive moment in time to a more elongated or severe issue. This may include:
- Going through a break-up
- Recovering from divorce
- Losing a job
- Being diagnosed with a serious illness
- Death of a loved one
- Struggling with PTSD or other forms of mental illness
These are a few of the many setbacks that people face throughout their lifetimes. Sometimes these come at particular stages in one’s life and sometimes they develop over time. Regardless of the kind of setback, there are opportunities for mindful growth from the struggles and obstacles that they present.
Developing Post-Setback Growth
Post-Setback Growth is a response-oriented skill that helps a person to both recover and benefit from adversity. While setbacks are an inevitable part of life, they don’t always have to be a burden. Post-Setback Growth is the process of accepting and freeing ourselves from the constraints of a difficult experience and, in turn, using that freedom to create mindset changes. This process happens in stages that start within the individual and end with applying newfound growth to their lives. Generally, this process includes:
- Cultivating Mental Toughness- separating momentary negative emotions from overall emotional well-being, and learning to reframe irrational thoughts about struggling with adversities
- Honing in on Character Strengths- identifying personal strengths that can aid with acceptance and recovery from obstacles, and building on particular strengths that pertain to a growth-oriented mindset
- Framing an Optimistic Outlook- understanding the ability to determine how we approach our difficulties, recognizing the tentative nature of our setbacks, and taking an active role in making positive life-changes
- Identifying New Possibilities- taking the future into our own hands, and appreciating life beyond the setback
- Fostering Healthy Relationships- finally, bringing others into our lives and connecting with co-workers, friends, and family with a changed mindset
Through the Resilience Training Program we will work with you to take active steps in shaping a resilient mindset to allow for Post-Setback Growth. While difficult experiences are a natural part of life, we can actively choose to learn and benefit in the long run rather than letting them burden us indefinitely. While the setback itself may be challenging or even traumatic, its growth can be life transforming. Have you ever heard someone say “cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me?” This is not to say that we would ever wish an illness as horrible as cancer onto someone. Rather, when dealt a challenging card that they could not control, cancer patients found that beating their illness improved their overall life experience. Many patients reported that overcoming cancer taught them about their own inner strength, and gave them a newfound appreciation for life. In essence, when life inevitably hands us tough obstacles, we have the conscious choice to either wallow in its pain and let it overtake us or grow from what we overcome and conquer.
Post-Setback Growth in Our Lives
Almost everyone in the world has heard of Apple. It is one of the most dominant technological producing companies in the world worth over $1 trillion- and its exploding success started from a setback. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak the creators and founders of Apple Products created Apple in 1976. In its first few years it began rising in success, but soon there was unrest and conflict between the leaders of Apple, and Steve Jobs was kicked out of the very company that he created. Apple struggled after Jobs left and it began declining as new leadership failed to appeal to the changing market. In the meantime, Jobs was off working for other companies. He didn’t immerse himself in self-pity or pain, but rather used that setback to become successful in a variety of other industries. When he finally returned to Apple years later it was just weeks away from bankruptcy. It was after this return that Jobs launched the iPod and eventually the iPhone, the major staples of today’s Apple industry. Apple turned from a successful corporation to a mega producer that competes with Amazon, Microsoft and other giants of the tech industry. Imagine if Jobs decided to quit tech after he got fired from Apple. The world would definitely look very different today.
Obviously, not everyone is going to turn a failure into a $1 trillion profit. But, there are many setbacks and challenges that we face that can jumpstart new perspectives, passions, and successes. Take a more tangible example. The COVID-19 pandemic poses a number of challenges to almost everyone in the world. Whether you contract the illness itself, experience financial losses, struggle to balance household responsibilities or feel isolated in your home, it is undoubtedly a time of unexpected and uncharted territory. Take this time to discover strengths and positive growth within your life. Perhaps this has given you time to learn about interests or passions you haven’t been able to focus on in the past, provided the space for meaningful family bonding, fostered a new perspective on appreciating the mundane things in everyday life or prompted thoughts on how to expand your business or career. Regardless of the kind of experience, there is the possibility for growth and development.
The Resilience Training Program at Long Island Psychology teaches and trains people to develop Post-Setback Growth. Our therapists have developed a number of therapy tools, workshops, and activities rooted in empirically supported research that hone in on mental strengths, encourage psychological well-being, and promote a growth-oriented mindset. For more information on Post-Setback Growth visit our Resilience Training Program page or call 516-732-0273. To learn more about our Garden City and Rockville Centre, NY locations, please visit our contact us page.