No matter how well you plan out a process for achieving goals, there are bound to be unexpected setbacks (minor and major) along the way. Whether you walk out of the bathroom with toilet paper hanging from the back of your pants, communicate with someone in a regretful manner, or lose a major business contract, the skills you utilize to address, recover and grow through setbacks are vital to staying on the right path.
Learning from the school of hard knocks can feel brutal. Our brains love certainty and work hard to connect data points stored in our subconscious mind to predict the future and avoid failure. When things go as planned, we are rewarded with a dopamine rush, like the high we feel when we deliver a well-received presentation, masterfully negotiate a business deal, or receive kudos from people we admire.
On the other hand, when the stakes are high and things don’t go as planned, the brain dumps stress hormones which disrupt thought patterns and can create a cascading flow of stress inducing events such as being caught off guard with a question in a business meeting, then proceeding to handle it less than optimally, miscommunicating to your boss in that important meeting, then realizing your presentation to the board of directors is today and not next week.
Learn from experiences, don’t take up residence with them!
When things don’t go according to plan, we can be rushed with a litany of negative self-talk like, “If I had only….”, “I wish I….”, “I should have....”.
Additionally, there are the external blaming and excuse enumerations like. “They should have….”, “If that person had only….”, “If the traffic wasn’t so awful....”, “They needed to_____, it wasn’t my fault”.
Cascading negative self-talk is simply how the mind works to make sense of misfortune. The good news is that by having this knowledge, you can reverse engineer the default mental dynamic and shift your self-talk in a more positive direction!
Leverage the MIST model to increase clarity and become a resiliency ninja!
Below is a model that I developed and now tailor for clients to strengthen mental agility and boost resiliency:
1. Mindfulness - Become aware of the litany of thoughts you are having after an event that didn’t go your way. Being mindful of these thoughts increases your ability to access personal choice and moves you into a place of control. You now can begin to shape the experience, instead of allowing the experience to shape you.
2. Imagine - Visualize a big STOP SIGN after becoming aware of these thoughts, by doing this you consciously press down the brakes on your negative self-talk.
3. Slow down - With the STOP SIGN visual, imagine hearing brakes or riding a horse and gently pulling back on the reigns while saying, “Whoa!” This will enhance the process of consciously pressing down on the brakes of your thoughts.
4. Train - Retrain the brain by gently saying to yourself, “NEXT TIME I’ll ____.” and fill in the blank. By repeating this simple phrase, your creative mind shifts toward seeking solutions for growth, resilience and higher potential!
Setbacks are opportunities to strengthen your mind and mindset
You don’t have to shrink or be stopped by negative circumstances. Become a resiliency ninja and build your mental agility so you can move past setbacks with increasing ease and speed while accelerating the ability to achieve your desired level of success!