fast-track setback

A fast-track recovery plan to overcome a major setback – Part I – Get on with your past (6 advice)

SOS message from Judy (a fictional character): “After experiencing a major setback, my life has changed completely. My perception, motivation, and everything are upside-down. I have seen the worst side of life. The effects are still going on, and I need an emergency pack to get my life back after this major setback.”

Answer: Judy, please know that you are not the only one who is experiencing this. I understand how it might have influenced your self-confidence and life motivation. The ideal is to get psychological help in this situation, but what if you cannot? Here are some techniques and books that might potentially help you pull yourself together after a setback.

1) Start with healthy grieving for this setback

Grieving is usually associated with someone’s death; however, it also happens when you experience a major loss. You need some time to accept the situation, give yourself time. Take your time, cry it out, long for the loss, take long walks, journal. Whatever comforts you to deal with the loss. Grieving has certain stages that are Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, Surprise. Click to read details about the grieving process, and how to proceed.

2) Accept what happened

Acceptance comes after the grieving process. It might take some time, and the ideal is not to hurry. When you accept the situation, then you can finally be ready to take the step to move forward. The first step is to acknowledge that you cannot escape from difficult emotions. Resistance would take unnecessary energy, and it might be harmful for the emotional wellbeing. When you confront negative emotions, just accept them. Surrender, feel them. Yes, they are all unpleasant emotions, but when you just let them in, it will feel less after a while. Being disappointed, frustrated, angry, and unhappy, they can be part of our lives from time to time. As you process these emotions they will hurt less.

3) Leave the setback in the past

Yes, this part needs some work. Did the catastrophic event cause any trauma on you?  Here is a website that lists the causes and symptoms of trauma. They are re-experiencing symptoms, performing avoidance behavior, hyper-arousal and negative changes in your behavior. (Please seek for help if you can). Your family history might influence your triggers and the way you experience trauma after the event has happened. 

Reframe your negative thoughts: Write down how you feel and your thoughts about the situation. Check whether there are generalizations or over negativity in your thoughts.

Note: These are components from cognitive therapy. Click to read more. Seek for professional help to apply the methods of cognitive therapy.  

4) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Developed by Francine Shapiro to overcome depression and anxiety, panic attacks and grief. In 1989, it became an official behavioral intervention to work on to work on a specific problem or memory. It is a practical method to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in which the disturbing memory keeps coming back while the disturbing experience recorded. The rationale behind is that while retrieving the memory in the long term, it helps to process a lot of information at the same time.

During an EMDR procedure, you remember the disturbing emotion, and the therapist moves eyes rapidly to help you overcome the disturbing memory. Then you slowly detach from the disturbing memory. As you move on in the EMDR procedure, it will help you to think differently. In this way, you would process the disturbing memories and move on with life after the setback.

The two books that could help you to do EMDR is:

EMDR books to help wirth setback
Francine-Shapiro – Getting past your past

With using this book, you can;

This is an effective book that explains the rationale of EMDR and effectively addresses traumatic and painful experiences such as anxiety, flashbacks, sleep issues. We change our brains, rewire it, overcome disturbing memories from the past, strengthen safe or calm places through imagery and create good memories in our head, can take control of our lives.

  • Heal from trauma
  • Let go of the past and embrace the future
  • Increase awareness
  • Discover hidden and limiting factors
  • Unveil the unconscious patterns of self-growth

“The book contains techniques to help readers identify the memories that are causing the negative reactions, and other techniques that will allow them to change the negative thoughts, emotions and body reactions.”

Francine Shapiro
Ada M. Hall – Self Guided EMDR and Shadow Work Workbook for Healing Trauma and Anxiety

This is an illustration book that explains the process of EMDR and guides the reader’s hands to practice at home where they can feel safe. With this book, you can:

  • You can heal from trauma
  • Let go of the past and embrace the future
  • Increase awareness
  • Discover hidden and limiting factors
  • Unveil the unconscious patterns for self-growth

5) Improve your mood

You might be feeling low and depressed, and it is so normal after experiencing such catastrophic things. Yet, there is a solution. There are already many self-help aids are developed to work on your mood after a setback.

David D. Burns, MD, – Feeling good

This book helps to improve mood. The experienced psychotherapist has carried out hundreds of sessions with clients who were suffering from anxiety and depression. He realized that your perception towards something plays a significant role in your feelings and life experiences. Particularly when you are depressed, your thoughts are dominated by pervasive negativity. He clearly explains the cognitive distortions and suggests the following.

  • Talk back to the inner critic
  • Write down your thoughts, identify cognitive distortions and find out why they are upsetting
  • Count your negative thoughts
  • Understand the structure of your thoughts

“Your feelings are hopelessness and total despair of symptoms of depressive illness and not just facts. People who feel hopeless are never actually are hopeless.”

David D. Burns

6) Overcome your worries

Worry time: When you get into an uncertainty period, there could be many worries coming with this period. It’s ok, they are just thoughts, and you can get over them. According to scientists, an effective strategy is to schedule “worry time”. In this way, you can train your brain to worry at a given time.

Breathing exercise: Deep breathing is an effective way to overcome worry. So take a deep breath, breathe in and breathe out. Here is a breathing exercise to guide you.

Progressive muscle relaxation: This is a way to release stress and worry. First you tight your muscles over a certain region and you lose them. Here is an exercise about progressive muscle relaxation.

“What if”?: Another way to overcome negative thoughts is to dig deep into “what if?” Here is an example of how to dig deep. “I am afraid to fail again.” until you reach to the core, and understand your biggest fears.

Dr. David Burns described in his book “Feeling Good” a method to overcome your fears. Another way to overcome negative thoughts is to dig deep into “what if?” Here is an example of how to dig deep. “I am afraid to fail again.” until you reach to the core, and understand your biggest fears.

It can be seen in this exercise that the core fear is being excluded. Then maybe you can take it further by doing a reframing exercise that would help you to work on your fears and cope with the setback.


The information provided in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health concerns. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk. The author and the blog are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions on this site. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of medical professionals or health care providers.

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