I bet many of us have uttered my subject line at some point in the past, or even recently. Maybe people have even continued the statement with something like “…and then four steps forward, then three steps back.” I know that kind of progress, or lack thereof, can be extremely frustrating, and maybe even lead to hopelessness, and becoming overwhelmed. It has happened to me a lot because of my bipolar disorder. I sink into a depression, and then struggle to get better. Then I get manic, and that pushes me back, too, and on and on. When and if I get the chance to bolt forward significantly it becomes ultra-satisfying. I have to do whatever I can to hold that ground, but relapse is often inevitable. Long-term stability and progress is also very much possible. I must keep that in mind.
Believe me, I’ve had to learn patience and tolerance over the years, and the will to continue, or “keep on keeping on”. Without that tolerance and will I would fall and never get up, or worse. I’m not willing to do that, and neither should you be.
How have I managed with so many setbacks? In many ways. I utter “The Little Engine That Could” speech, or when I’m done falling or stepping further back, I breathe in and breathe out slowly and find my way up again, even if it requires requesting someone to give me a hand for a lift or to stay steady. If I feel stuck in one place, I try to make the best of that place for a bit by finding some positives in that spot. For example, if I get up from a fall I dust myself off and look around and find something about that spot that can inspire. When the fear or anxiety dies down even a touch, I lift my left leg forward, and then the right. Or maybe someone helps drag me a bit by a figurative rope wrapped around my waist.
It doesn’t always take a lot of strength, money, or other resources to continue on. It takes brute determination. Yes, sometimes a little anger can be a good thing, if the anger is focused appropriately. Some anger has provided adrenaline I thought didn’t exist.
It is very important when you find yourself at or near the bottom of the steps or further back on the road to stand there for a bit and analyze what has been forcing you backwards. Sometimes moves forward without such knowledge are a sure way to trip down or back again. When you figure out the causes of your descents or back stepping, learn and then use the tools needed to move forward and stay forward. Tools like getting help sooner than before, learning better organization skills, better healthy living skills, confidence, new approaches, and sometimes even simplification can all be helpful.
Remember that life will continue to have setbacks occasionally for all of us. You are not alone. Perhaps knowing that can provide some comfort.
What strategies and tools have you used to help you move forward after setbacks?