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Don’t let mistakes and setbacks stop you

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One thing that some of us are good at is remembering all the mistakes we have made in the past. This especially applies to not-so-confident people. It is almost as though they have a running commentary of their failures, their mistakes and their mishaps. This feeds into the negative internal dialogue of “I’m not good enough”.

It is therefore important to release your hold on those past mistakes in order to move on with more confidence. By keeping your focus on the negatives, you effectively drag yourself down and do not allow yourself to progress. You cannot change what has already happened, you can only change what you do in the present.

Let’s take a look at some techniques on how to better deal with mistakes and setbacks.

Let go of mistakes and focus on the present

If you do make a mistake, ask yourself these questions to help you learn and grow from the experience. What contributed to the mistake? How could you do things differently if you were in the same situation in the future? Remind yourself that the mistake is simply the result of an action you took (or did not take) and not a reflection of you as a human being, as a person. Then adjust your behaviour and your mindset for the future so you do not repeat the same mistake again.

Put setbacks into perspective

In regards to setbacks, we all experience setbacks when the results we achieve are not what we wanted or expected. This may affect your confidence levels. Therefore, it is important to keep things in perspective and take a step back. Reflect on whether you did everything you could have done, whether there were any external or extenuating factors that impacted on the results, and also, in the grand scheme of things, on how this one result fits in.

For example, say you are working on a big client presentation and then someone in your family got seriously ill. The stress, worry and possible time out of the office to take care of that person may impact on your ability to focus and deliver the kind of presentation that you would like. Sometimes a change in personal circumstances, the death of close family or friend or a change in routine, can impact on your abilities and your confidence levels.

So, it is important to put things into perspective with the grand scheme of your life and learn any lessons. Ask yourself: did you do the best you could give the circumstances? Could you have delegated some of the work or even the entire presentation to a colleague while you focused on things that were more important at the time?

Build mental resilience

Another example is not being able to meet a deadline due to something beyond your control. This might require reviewing and revising the original deadline. By doing that, you can at least maintain a sense of confidence in what you are doing rather than failing to meet the original goal and have that impact negatively on your confidence levels. This helps you build your mental resilience. What about when you did not get that job you were going for; did that dent your confidence levels? How did you recover from that? What sorts of things did you say to yourself?

This mental resilience, the ability to bounce back after setbacks and remain positive regardless of the situation, will help you become a strong and more confident individual.

The key to mental resilience is your ability to stay calm under pressure and deal with stress; stay strong in your belief that you can do what you set out to do, make your motivation work for you, and maintain focus on what you need to do and what you can control.

According to the American Psychological Association (2013, cited in Thompson, 2013), some of the keys to developing mental resilience include:

  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You cannot change what has happened however you do have control over how you react after they have happened.
  • Move towards your goals. Continue to do whatever you can towards your goals, even if this is just small steps towards ultimately getting you back on track with things.
  • Keep things in perspective. Look at things keeping the bigger picture and long-term goals in sight rather than blowing the situation out of proportion.
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook. Keep an optimistic outlook that things will improve rather than worrying or being fearful about things and the future.
  • Take care of yourself. Even though you may face a challenging situation, nurture yourself and be kind to yourself.

Thompson (2013) suggests that rather than spending lots of time and energy worrying about what could be, simply stay focused on what you can do today to help remain hopeful about what you can do tomorrow.

Even if you have to revise your goal, you can still continue onwards and remember to pursue progress, not perfection. Above all else, make sure you take care of yourself and be gentle, acknowledging the small steps you make, and know that you are indeed making progress.

Soar with Confidence

To find out more about this topic you might want to read "Soar with Confidence"

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