14 Feb How To Bounce Back From Challenges

My Dad was my hero and I lost him.

In his place, I got something I never expected.

I looked up to Dad for advice and guidance and he never let me down. We camped, and played baseball, and worked together on the farm. Born of solid farm stock, he was vibrant and physically fit his whole life. He was my model of what it mean to be a good man – patient, kind, generous, funny, and resourceful.

photo of Boyd Trommater

While Dad was busy in the orchards, it was Mom’s job to raise me and my sisters. Mom was the disciplinarian. Mom made sure we did our chores and homework. Mom nagged. While my relationship with her wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t great. I was short on patience and was often frustrated by her.

Fast forward to 2008.

Dad’s cancer finally caught up to him and I lost my hero.

I was absolutely crushed. I just couldn’t understand how this titan of a man could be gone. I felt lost and alone.

People often say that good can come from loss, but that idea was inconceivable to me.

Fast forward to 2012.

4 years after Dad’s death, Mom and I had a better relationship than I ever thought was possible. We laughed, and talked, and debated religion. We sewed together. I looked to her for advice and support. Up until her death in 2016, she became my model of what it means to be a good human – curious, kind, generous, funny and capable.

Priscilla and Dan Trommater quilting

Fast forward to today.

Now it’s clear to me that without my Dad’s death, I never would have had that wonderful relationship with Mom. It simply would not have happened. While it was absolutely impossible for me to see that in the aftermath of his death, it’s obvious to me now. It was that knowledge that lessened the pain of her death. Now, as hard as it is to deal with her absence, I’m absolutely confident that I’ll not only make it through, good will come out of it.

Loss, failure, and setbacks are inevitable.

The ways in which we deal with those challenges have a huge impact on our future performance and success. If we can find a way to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off when we get knocked down, life gets easier. So, it makes sense to equip ourselves with tools and ways of thinking that let you be more resilient and bounce back sooner.

A Tool To Build Your Ability To Bounce Back

tools to bounce back

Though it can be difficult to see in the moment, even the biggest setbacks and failures have some positive elements and outcomes if you know how to spot them.

From the field of Positive Psychology, “Benefit Finding” is a great way to build your resilience.

The goal of this exercise is to build your awareness of the potential benefits of life’s challenging events. This explicit focus on the positive side-effects of difficult life events can help boost your resilience.

This activity taps into your past struggles to help build your resiliency muscles so you can better deal with future setbacks. Originally created as a tool for people with major trauma and health struggles, Benefit Finding has recently been shown to have positive effects for less dramatic challenges.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Pick a past struggle or failure

Choose something from your past that you’ve experienced and made it through. It could be a loss, an injury, a career setback, etc. You might want to choose an event that isn’t too recent – if you’re still reeling from the setback, it can be hard to see anything but the very worst.

2. Talk or write about it in as much detail as possible for a few minutes

Try to capture and express your thoughts and emotions you have about the experience.This will likely be a predominantly negative step in the process.

3. Focus on the positive aspects of the experience

Here are some questions that may help you find the good in the bad:

  • How has the experience changed you?
  • What has the experience taught you?
  • How has the experience made you better equipped to meet similar challenges in the future?
  • How do you feel that this experience has made you grow as a person?

It’s a simple process but has the power to shift your perspective and help you see that every setback can give you an opportunity for growth.

I’d suggest making this a practice. When you have setbacks at work or home (and they don’t have to be monumental setbacks,) after you’ve taken some time to feel the pain, remember to go back and find the good hidden in the bad. You’ll shift your perspective and build your resilience muscles.

5 Positive Psychology Hacks Can You Implement

Make sure you check out 5 Powerful Positive Psychology Hacks To Transform Your Team for some great techniques that you can use to help you create a more positive mindset, life, and business.

Positive Pyschology download

2 Comments
  • Peter LePiane
    Posted at 12:53h, 15 February Reply

    Great article Dan! Thanks for being vulnerable with the personal story. They are perfect examples.

    I have many personal examples of pain that has shaped me (for the much better) into who I am today: a divorce, a bankruptcy, almost losing my house. I’m thankful that it hasn’t been worse. Life doesn’t seem to discriminate when it selects where misfortune lands.

    Out of crisis comes opportunity. I read that while in the throes of pain from my divorce. Am I ever grateful that I saw that quote. Using my divorce as the catalyst, I became a man capable of having a great relationship. Without that divorce, there is no way I end up being an attractive partner to my now, amazing wife (who I now have 2 amazing kids with). As I look back, I’m damn lucky that first one ended in so much pain. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have been such a great teacher.

    I’d love to detail all the other “benefit finding” opportunities I’ve had in life, but it’d take way more space :). I just ask for the wisdom and patience to recognize when I can use pain as a teacher as early as possible in the process and submit to the comfort that not only will the pain end but that something good will come of it. I’m still a work in progress in that regard.

    Maybe the Dan Trommater community needs a 30 day “benefit finding” challenge :).

    • Dan
      Posted at 12:58h, 20 February Reply

      (Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now.)
      Thanks so much for sharing Peter. Indeed, as Yoda says in The Last Jedi, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” But only if we make a conscious effort to learn. If we just keep on with our old ways, we can’t expect the results to change.
      I love the idea of a Benefit Finding Challenge! It may well be in the works. Thanks again!
      Dan

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