How to Overcome Major Setbacks in Life

No one is immune to setbacks in life. Some might have less than others but we all experience them. And, they tend to come at a time when you least expect it, leaving you to pick up the pieces. If you are in a situation where you are wondering how you will ever get out of it alive, we are here to tell you that you have what it takes to make it through to the other side – you just don’t know it yet.

We as human beings are resilient! But, the knowledge of that won’t help you overcome setbacks. It is only once you have come out on the other side that you realize your strength. You CAN rise above any challenge life throughs at you. Below are some of the biggest setbacks we as humans have to face at some stage in our lives.

Death of a Partner, Child or Loved One

Losing someone close to you is most probably one of the worst things that can happen to you. Death is so final and feels so unfair. While you will most probably never completely overcome it, you will learn to live with it and with every day that passes, it will get a little easier.


Whether you initiate it or your partner does, divorce is never easy. Especially when there are children involved. According to a recent report by StatsSA, nearly half of all marriages in South Africa end up in divorce before the ten-year mark. The biggest reasons are infidelity, financial strain and a lack of work/life balance.

Losing Your Job

The global economy is taking strain at the moment but in South Africa, it’s ten times worse. People are made redundant every single day. In most cases, it takes a good few months to find another job and bouncing back from the financial repercussions of unemployment is challenging.

Physical Illness Like Cancer

Health-related setbacks don’t only affect you physically and mentally, it also puts pressure on your finances. Overcoming illness takes supernatural strength but it can be done.

Abuse (Mental, Emotional or Physical)

You’d be surprised at how many people live with abuse, both mentally, emotionally and physically. Getting out isn’t as easy as you might think, especially if you’ve been broken down to nothing for years and years.


Overcoming addiction might seem as simple as making a decision, but it’s not. More often than not, it isn’t something you can do on your own.


Losing a limb or becoming disabled due to an accident or illness can be deliberating. Such a major setback can take years to overcome but it’s not impossible.

How to Overcome Setbacks in Life 

Setbacks will happen and when it comes to these challenges, your attitude and how you approach them are what will determine whether you’ll manage to overcome them and move forward. Here are some steps you can take.

Acknowledge Them

Acknowledgement is the start of the transformation. When you recognise your setback and see it for what it is, you can start to deal with it and ultimately start to heal. While you might never be the same person you were before, you’ll come out on the other side stronger and even more resilient. Pretending that it’s not happening won’t do you any favours. You will just be postponing the inevitable. Acknowledge that through the hard times, transformation happens, and we can grow and thrive on the other side.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

Blaming others for your situation is easy but counterproductive. Accept that things happen sometimes for no obvious reason and moving forward is much healthier than blaming everyone else for an irreversible setback.

Confront them

Staring your setback in the face is the next step to taking back control of your life. One way to confront it is to share it with other people. Being open and vulnerable like this carries enormous power. We can learn a lot from others who are dealing with the same difficulties, but to do it, we have to share our own.

Give Yourself Some Time

Everything takes time. Broken hearts need time to mend, your body needs time to heal. And you should allow yourself the time to overcome major setbacks. Being impatient will only make it more difficult than they need to be and extend the healing time.

Things People Who Have Overcome Setbacks Have in Common

Some people have it easier than others, or so it seems. Like we’ve said before, none of us can avoid major life setbacks. These people who seemingly have it easier merely know how to deal with it better. Here’s why.

They Expect Setbacks

The moment you realise that we’re all human and that anything can happen at any time that may change your life forever is the moment you start overcoming your setback. People who acknowledge that bad things happen to good (and bad) people are halfway there.

They Set Aside Time to Be Disappointed

Disappointment is a given any tough situation but wallowing in it won’t do you any favours. People who set time limits for disappointments and then redirect their focus toward progress overcome setbacks much faster.

They Don’t Rely on Their Emotions

We’re human and we have emotions. But there’s a difference between having emotions and having them rule our lives. The truth is, we mostly don’t understand emotions. Ignoring them doesn’t help but being seduced by them and having them rule you is as destructive. You can learn to objectively look at the situation as well as feel your emotions without getting swept away by them, that way you can navigate the setback constructively.

They Ask “Now What?”

People who focus on what to do next and what they have learnt, tend to overcome setbacks much quicker than those who focus on what happened to them and the “why me?” question. Finding a path to progress is the direction you want to go in.

They Look for the Lesson

With nearly everything that happens in life, there’s a lesson to be learned. Even the setbacks that hurt like crazy! While you’re in the midst of it, you might not understand why it happened but on the healing journey, the lesson will become clear, at least in most cases.

They Get Help

No one expects you do go at it alone. People are social creatures and communicating with others helps us process. If you don’t have anyone to talk to or you want an outsider’s perspective, you might want to get help from an executive coach, also known as a life coach or performance coach.

How Executive Coaching Can Help You Overcome Setbacks

Working with a life coach is a big decision but most probably the best decision you’ll ever make. A life coach can help you in the following ways:

Enhance communication skills – For you to heal, you need to talk about the things that happened in your life. This also teaches you how to better communicate with yourself as well as with others.

Teach new coping skills – Not everyone knows how to cope with difficult situations and major setbacks. A life coach can enlighten you and teach you how to address your emotions and thinking to speed up the healing process.

Give you the courage and motivation you need – Your life coach will be your biggest supporter. They will encourage you and support you which will enable you to make it through to the other side.

Overcoming Setbacks Will Enable You to Take on New Challenges

The best thing about overcoming setbacks is the fact that you’ll be able to take on new challenges. Stronger than ever, you can become the person you’ve always wanted to be. No more controlled by your past, from here it’s onwards and upwards. Your worth is not determined by what’s happened or what’s happening to you. Just because you were hurt, you’re getting a divorce or are facing a serious illness, doesn’t make you a failure at life. Your worth is constant, and can’t be shaken by the setbacks in life.

Need help to face challenges head-on? Book your free session with Integrative Coaching today!

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