How To Deal With Setbacks In Healing

Setbacks are a normal part of healing an injury. Here are helpful coaching tips to help you overcome setbacks and keep moving forward.

Setbacks

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Experiencing a healing setback when you thought you were getting better is a total drag. It’s painful, scary, interferes with your life, and messes with your mindset. It’s especially discouraging when you’ve been working really hard and been really patient. I get it.

The truth is, healing, or change of any kind, isn’t linear. The “down” bits of this up-and-down path can be really, really difficult. It’s essential to improve how you handle setbacks so that you can continue to move forward towards healing progress. There are ways to take care of yourself, keep from freaking out, shorten the amount of time it takes to get back to normal, and use your setback to learn more about what your body needs.

The good news for all of us: there’s hope.  Over the past decade I have worked with people all over the globe who struggle with healing setbacks of varying degrees.  Through my work, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to bouncing back and making progress. Here’s what works:

How To Deal With Setbacks In Healing

Take this time to watch this video on “How To Deal With Setbacks In Healing”, it will serve you.

How to Care for Yourself During a Setback:

So how do you deal with it when symptoms return and it feels like you’re not getting better any more? Here are my suggestions:

Accept it. There are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you.  When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.  Acceptance is letting go and allowing things to be the way they truly are.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care about improving the realities of life – it’s just realizing that the only thing you really have control over is yourself in the present moment.  This simple understanding is the foundation of acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be peace and growth in your life. Practicing acceptance can often be the most powerful step in moving past a setback.

Don’t assume it’s the same old thing. Keep your curiosity open. Notice the details of what’s happening this time, and make room for the possibility that it might be different. Often, for example, the symptoms look similar but the recovery from them is faster and easier. Remember that occasional visits back to the old pattern are actually a normal and important part of healing that helps solidify the new, healthier pattern.

Take really, really, super-good care of yourself. Take this as a time to step back and focus on you. Sometimes when we get better we forget about self care, and you know what? We still need it. If you’re being forced into it, try to embrace it. Take a break and do some of the things that helped you get better in the first place.

If it’s hard to make space for this, ask for help. Especially if you have kids (3-year-olds are not known for their ability to observe “be gentle with mommy day”). And while you’re at it: have the audacity to enjoy taking care of yourself. It’s really okay.

Take note of what might have started the setback. We all have body parts that are vulnerable, and things that push us over the edge, no matter how healthy we are. Knowing yours can help you manage them better and stay healthier.

Take note of what helps. Sometimes when symptoms are milder and more intermittent, it’s easier to notice what provides some relief. Put that in your set of tools for the future, so you can continue learning how to recover more quickly and completely when you do have setbacks.

Reflect and grow better. Ask yourself the following questions after a setback:

  • How can I make sense of this?
  • What have I learned from it?
  • Now that I know this, what would I do differently?

By reflecting back on your setbacks, you can turn them into learning opportunities and become stronger than you were before. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Take a moment for perspective and self-compassion.

Get support from your loved ones. You’re going to feel a little scared, discouraged, pissed off, and/or stressed out when symptoms come back. Talk about it. Let the people around you love you and care for you. If you’re feeling worried or guilty about not meeting all your responsibilities, talk about that too. Just don’t let it keep you from getting support.

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Yes, there may be pain and uncertainty for a while, but it never lasts forever.  Time heals. It’s easy to get caught up in a bad situation and think, “The world is over!” But actually, this bad feeling and situation are just passing clouds.  They’re just part of an ever-changing experience, and while it’s not always pleasant, it will pass like everything else has passed.  Life doesn’t stop for anyone.

Reach out and help people.

Our setbacks are often mostly about us, wallowing in our own self-pity.  This doesn’t sound great, but we all do it almost every day to a small extent without noticing it.  When you catch yourself doing this, know that the best antidote is to get outside yourself, stop being self-centered, and re-focus on the people around you.  Try to find a way to help someone else.  It will inevitably, infallibly, make you feel better.

Find gratitude in the present moment. Keep your head up.  Take a deep breath and be grateful for everything that remains and everything that’s growing stronger in your life.  When it feels like everything is falling apart, remind yourself that you can either let it define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

If you’re experiencing this kind of setback right now, I’m really sorry. I know how painful and scary and damned inconvenient it is. It can really help to stay focused on what you can do for yourself, right now, in order to keep healing, calm your fears, and even find some joy and fun in the midst of it all!

What Works for You?
How do you take care of yourself when your health backslides for a little while? What’s your experience with the ups and downs of healing? Please leave a comment and let me know!

I am sending you love and positive energy. Stay strong and keep your chin up my friends. And please share this post with someone who could use some encouragement. We all could use a little positive light in our lives.

Here’s to you, growing stronger

Caroline

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