How to Begin Again after a Setback

How do you begin again after a setback? It could be a minor or a major setback or somewhere inbetween. After you take in what has happened, maybe a financial blow, an illness or a rejection, it’scommon to feel depressed. Maybe you made a mistake on something or maybe you were wrong and had to apologize. Whatever it is, make no mistake, it will serve to grow you, but first it will tear you down.

As a psychotherapist I believe in supporting people through times of stress, helping them with action plans and giving them hope. But I also know that sometimes life just sucks and we can only take it oneday, sometimes one hour at a time. We often ask why is this happening, what’s the lesson here? I don’t know about you, but for me the lesson isn’t always clear. Sometimes the clarity comes weeks or monthslater. I do know that we can’t bear these times alone. I hear people, especially adolescents say they don’t want to burden their family or friends with their stress or their “drama”. But isn’t that what arefriends and family for? Allow someone to be there for you, allow someone to listen to you because it helps them too. It reminds them that they are not alone and that everyone suffers. The great illusion is of course that some people have perfect lives, always having fun, going places….things come easy forthem. Well some people do have it easier than others but that doesn’t mean they are any happier. Thepersona may cover up their own pain. Try not to compare. I tell my clients to stay in your own lane.

During these difficult times we may just have to go through the motions until the clouds part. I do know that stopping your engagement with friends and family, ceasing exercise or your spiritual involvement,or stopping activities you’ve loved, won’t work out well for you. It just allows you more time to sit andruminate on what’s wrong or obsess about the stress you’re currently under.

By all means take care of yourself and say no when you have to but don’t stop living your life or doing things. You will get through this.


Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver: beautifully writes about life, loss, pain and the will to begin again.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created
Under the orange Sticks of the sun
The heaped
Ashes of the night Turn into leaves again

And fasten themselves to the high branches And the ponds appear
Like black cloth
On which are painted islands

Of summer lilies
If it is your nature
To be happy
You will swim away along the soft trails

For hours, your imagination Alighting everywhere.
And if you spirit
Carries within it

The thorn
That is heavier than leadIf it’s all you can do
To keep on trudging

There is still somewhere deep within you A beast shouting that the earth
Is exactly what it wanted

Each pond with its blazing lilies Is a prayer heard and answered Lavishly,
Every morning.

Whether or not
You have ever dared to be happy, Whether or not
You have ever dared to pray.