Put Setbacks In Perspective

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Changing customary patterns of behavior is hard. We feel that pull, almost like being inexorably drawn towards a powerful magnet, to fall back into old ways of being and relating despite our best efforts. To find ultimate success it’s not just about expecting setbacks but also about putting them in perspective when they occur.

The temptation is to let a setback loom so large that all the focus is diverted to the failure of the immediate situation rather than to also remembering all of the successes leading up to it. This is especially true when we’re trying to quit something. Going back to an old pattern of behavior seems to act as tangible proof that our efforts were in vain. The result is a sense of failure and disappointment in ourselves which leads to giving up.

What to do when these setbacks invariably occur is to focus attention on how long we were able to resist the urge to enact the behavior we were trying to avoid and how exactly we were able to do it. We don’t let the setback overshadow all the time leading up to that setback where other ways of behaving were in play. To expect to quit something cold turkey is unreasonable for most of us, which means having that expectation is setting ourselves for disappointment. Of course cold turkey is the ideal but when we view changing customary patterns of behavior as a process sure to have bumps along the way we are more likely to keep our eyes on the prize, to keep pushing forward in spite of the temporary disturbances threatening to derail or progress.