Pushing Past Setbacks to Silver Linings…

A friend recently gave me his refrigerator when he bought a new one. Since his old one was much newer than mine, I eagerly accepted his gift before offering my old fridge to another family who needed one. We secured a truck, picked a day, and then did some heavy lifting for a few hours.

How cool is that? I mean, my new fridge cost me nothing but a little time…

Oh, and a ruptured disk in my lower back.

So given what I’ve spend on medications and chiropractors to date—let’s just say that it would have been cheaper had I purchased a new refrigerator.

Where’s my silver lining?

When you find a lottery ticket on the street, and that ticket ends up being worth $500 million, you don’t think about silver linings.

When the person you love brings you flowers just because, you don’t think about silver linings.

When your child is presented with The Child of the Century Award, you don’t think about silver linings.

We don’t think about silver linings when everything goes according to plan, or when the outcomes we experience exceed our wildest dreams. We reserve the words silver lining for those momentary bright flashes we see after we’ve been hit hard by a setback, often called clouds or storms by poets.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was right when he wrote,

Into each life some rain must fall…

As not to leave you feeling pessimistic, remember that in the same poem he wrote,

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining…

In other words, even when you can’t see it, the sun—the silver lining—is still out there.

What unplanned, unexpected setback hit you today?  Have you encountered a relationship setback? A job setback? A financial setback?

Setbacks can be HUGE and unavoidable. Instead of living in fear of them, learn to train your eyes on the silver linings they bring.

Even my back injury had a silver lining. I hurt myself before my busy travel schedule hits, meaning that I’m recovering at home instead of on the road. Since going to my chiropractor, I’ve started regular physical therapy I can do by myself. And I’ve regained mobility that I assumed was lost permanently as part of the regular aging process. And maybe the best part is that, in the future, I’ve learned how to prevent lower back problems: I can say NO! I AM NOT LIFTING THAT!

So what can you do to move your eyes from setbacks to silver linings?

3 Tips to Pushing Past Setbacks to Silver Linings:

  1. Encourage yourself with your own past experiences. Recall a time that a trial ended up taking you to a greater and better place. For example, one time I lost a job. I didn’t do a happy-dance immediately or instantly see a silver lining. But that event set in motion my current career, one that I absolutely love.
  2. Encourage yourself with the words you wish others would tell you. If you don’t have anyone in your life encouraging  you in your setbacks, be your own best friend. What do you want to hear? “It will get better”? “Something good will come of this, I promise”? “I’ve been in harder situations”? Develop the mantra you most need to hear. Then write it to yourself. Repeat it to yourself. Say it aloud to yourself. And most importantly, believe it.
  3. Encourage yourself by holding your head up high. Psychologists use the term self-fulfilling prophecy to describe how our beliefs consciously or unconsciously determine our behaviors…and outcomes. In other words, if you tell yourself that you will fail, your behavior will live up to that belief–and you WILL fail. But self-fulfilling prophecies work in the positive, too. If you tell yourself that you will make it, be successful, weather the storm, and end up stronger–well, then you will hold your head up high, walk with positive determination, and ensure that you will get to the other side in no time.

Our responses, not our circumstances, determine the darkness of the storm or the brightness of the silver lining.


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