Setbacks + Emotions + Reflection = Road to Recovery Part 2

We all experience some despair when setbacks occur. That’s quite normal.

It is one thing to rejoice, give thanks and praise when things go right. But it’s not as easy when things go wrong.  A couple of weeks ago, I shared how emotions can paralyze you and keep you from moving towards recovery.


Photo credit: Psychiatric News Alert

It’s important to take time to reflect, even grieve so that you can move on. The important thing is that taking the time to deal with your emotions is the first step.  The problem is that too often people get stuck in that emotional state. Instead of merely reflecting and then moving on they get stuck there. You can read Part 1 HERE.

What most people don’t realize is that rejoicing is a very deliberate step on the road to recovery from setbacks. “What’s there to rejoice about?” you grumble. If you think about it there’s lots to be grateful for.  

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.

You never achieve nothing! Yes you have read right, it’s not a grammar mistake using a double negative. If you have experienced a setback it doesn’t mean you have achieved nothing. It doesn’t mean you have failed. There is always an opportunity to learn something and then build on that to generate success. No setback no matter how big or small has the final say, you do. How you respond will ultimately determine the outcome more than anything else.

Focus on what is left, not what is lost

It’s much easier to focus on the loss rather than what is left. Imagine a natural disaster that leaves homes flattened and flooded. If that was your home what would your options be? You could seek temporary shelter and wait for water levels to recede. But eventually you will return. You will pull back the rubble, sift through the remains and find a way to start rebuilding. It’s unlikely you will simply leave and never return.  Even if all you have left is a piece of land, that’s still worth something. Focus on what you have left and use it to take the next step forward.

Rejoice Always!

As children many of us learnt the song “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” these are not idle words. In fact these are the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians. In the same letter he talks about “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead.”  Philippians 3:13. At this stage of his life Paul has experienced what many would describe as major setbacks, yet he has a different view.

Everything he has lost – position, influence, money, lifestyle – he doesn’t see as a loss, but rather as an opportunity to continue with the work of spreading God’s word. His response is not to bemoan his fate. Instead he chooses to rejoice and instructs his followers to rejoice with him: “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on a sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with all of me.”

Find your foundation

The purpose in rejoicing after setbacks is to find your foundation again. You’ve had your time to reflect, the next step is to find your feet and move forward. When you rejoice it makes you look up and look around you. You leave what is behind you and start to look forward.

Most people who succeed in the face of seemingly impossible conditions are people who simply don’t know how to quit. – Unknown

Rejoice, look up, look at what is left and then use that to move forward.


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