How to Overcome A Setback in Life and Training

Jannine Myers

I read this article last week, by Yoga Instructor Amy Annis, and I had to share it with you. Most of us will experience some type of major setback (if not already), yet some of us will cope with our trials much better than others. One of the advantages, I believe, of being a runner or athlete, is that we often immerse ourselves in a lifestyle that’s filled with positive energy and surround ourselves with friends who tend to lift us up rather than bring us down. And more often than not, we are inspired by our athlete peers who go through difficult times yet through sheer resilience and determination, manage to “get back on their feet.” This is exactly what Amy Annis did, and her story is indeed inspiring, but also incredibly helpful. This is a great read for all of us – for those of us currently experiencing a setback and for those of us who inevitably will.

With the passage into the New Year, my Facebook news feed has blown up with words of inspiration, suggestions of resolutions, and details on how to chase progress and perfections. As a yoga teacher, I love that people want to try something new and that yoga is on their list. The symbolism of a fresh new year and an opportunity to reinvent go hand-in-hand. I even offered some humble suggestions on walking the resolution path in an Athleta Chi article Turn Resolutions into Possibilities.

That said, in a quest for progress we forget to embrace the best lesson life deals, a setback. There is a huge value in experiencing one and still being able to dial into your inner GPS (intuition) and plow forward. When your setback occurs in 2014 (because it will), will you accept it as a defeat or will you file it away as a message from the universe to rethink, reorganize, and rework your plan.

Amy AnnisShifting gears has been a theme in my life the last five years. I’ve had some major life events… some that I invited and one that was a staggering setback. Re-evaluating, I still maintain I barreled through the setback (cancer) with the support of a rocking friend and family posse, great medical care, a yoga mat, and sheer orneriness. Here’s a glossed over synopsis of the path I have walked: Girl wakes up one morning and has cancer, girl kicks cancer’s ass, and then girl goes on to create a yoga business that affords her the opportunity to do what she loves every day. Sounds pretty shiny.

And yet, the unglossed version is my reality. Remembering it softens my perception on defeats and helps quelch the fears of self-doubt as I move forward.

Waking up to cancer in 2009 was a big setback. Emotionally, financially, and physically. And although I’ve written many times about the experience and the lessons learned, I don’t know if I have ever written about the reoccurring fears, the messiness of trying to rebuild, and the mistakes I made along the way. Adversity isn’t as interesting as triumph. But it was that ugly diagnosis which forced me to pull up my big girl pants and get resilient. So weirdly enough, I’m grateful for the diagnosis. It was that monstrous setback that made a no bullshit rebuild such a critical component to my healing. I got focused–fast, and decided that post-cancer Amy was going to make a dent.

So here are my theories on how to rebuild. And I write this this with a sincere prayer that many of you don’t need a cancer springboard to propel you forward. Just an “I’m ready to kick start a great new life spring board,” and 2014 is a great place to start.

  1. Define what you wish to accomplish. Write it down so you can refer to it again and again (with big chunky letters and a pretty-colored pen). It sounds simplistic, but do what you love. It’s not magic or frou-frou new age spirituality. If you can find what you are supposed to be doing and then do it; the happiness will come.
  2. Start planning and be prepared to restart again and again. Take a few steps forward and don’t be surprised when you have to take a few steps back. Push harder. Incorporate your left and right brain, your raw emotion, and a healthy respect for benefiting the community and world you live in.
  3. Embrace the setbacks, or at least be prepared to embrace them. Receive them as messages from the Universe. I mentioned the messiness of rebuilding earlier, and would be remiss if I didn’t confess to hurting feelings, missing out on important moments of my children, and piling loads of expectations upon my husband in order to make my dreams happen. I often had to step back in those situations and re-examine my priorities. Some of my ideas are crumpled at the bottom of my wastebasket. But my big picture still remains. Don’t lose the big picture. Refer back to item #1.
  4. Self-message the positive. Oh wow, this is big. Don’t allow self-doubt to creep in and definitely don’t speak it out loud. Do this for yourself and by the way do it for your kids! Science teaches us that negative massaging, “I’m overweight,” and “I’m not good enough,” are gateways to poor self-esteem and mismanaged behaviors. We all get frustrated with ourselves and messages in our brains are mistranslated but if you can create a positive self-image within yourself, others will see you in that same light. P.S. on this one: Don’t be reluctant to look for support or therapy on this rebuild. Realize that character building sometimes requires support.
  5. Be stubborn. Once you have established your goals, don’t give up. Build an armor of resilience and if it begins to melt from an attack of self-doubt pull out your super hero cape. Eventually you will plow through.

Amy Annis - Yoga

Finally, be strong enough to experience a setback but human enough to not pretend that you can always master it. File it away as a lesson learned and embrace the vulnerability it creates within you. It’s that human quality which we all posses that is a very strong launching pad to reconstructing our life. Ironically, we have that crazy-assed setback to thank for it.

2 thoughts on “How to Overcome A Setback in Life and Training

  1. Hi Jannine,

    I’m not sure how I stumbled across this page but just wanted to thank you for sharing my story. Life is and continues to be a series of lessons and I love that my experience spoke to you.

    Blessings on your running journey ~ (and please mention to your runners that yoga will help with their hamstrings for me 🙂
    Namaste and Whoot

    • Hi Amy,
      I enjoy reading all the posts on Athleta.Net; that’s how I came across your post! And so glad I did 🙂 Thanks for your comment, well wishes, and advice! Blessings to you too.

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