Resilience – how to bounce back from a setback

Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK
24 January 2017

Andy Murray, currently ranked world number one and the most successful British tennis champion, has been knocked out early of the Australian Open in Melbourne. So what lessons can be learned from failure, even for the best in the field?

Clinical Director for Bupa UK, Pablo Vandenabeele, gives his run down on how to mentally get back on track after failure, particularly when it comes to our health and fitness regimes.

Image of a tennis ball on court

Why so surprised?

Are you surprised you haven’t done as well as you thought at meeting your goal? Sometimes we don’t read the signals that things aren’t working until it’s too late – and that’s natural. Other times we deny problems as a way of addressing the issues. To avoid being shocked by failure in the future, try to understand why things haven’t gone to plan this time round. Have you not been able to commit enough time to your fitness; was there an injury you ignored for a while?

Acknowledging these hurdles will help you to move on quicker mentally.

Don’t blame the game

Your situation may have treated you badly. Perhaps your sports partner didn’t play fair? It’s important to realise nothing can be gained from blaming the situation. The springboard to success is what sets us back. The only thing that can be controlled in the future is understanding if you did anything that led to the outcome and learning from these mistakes.

Take it easy on yourself

You’ve reflected back on your action which is great for moving forward, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Setbacks happen to all of us and accepting failure is not a bad thing as it takes us away from the idea of being perfect. Murray has lost five Grand Slams in his career. Try talking to someone who’s been through a similar situation and you will feel quickly that you’re not so alone.

Breathe in and try to let your thoughts go – or as Taylor Swift would say, “Shake it off”.

What’s the feedback?

Setbacks can leave you a little mentally wounded and asking for feedback takes courage. Asking a friend or colleague for a second opinion on your situation may give you a window into better understanding your setbacks and can be a motivator to pick yourself up. It’s in your remit to ask and if you’re lacking the energy to move on you can rely on them to be straight talking.

Don’t get bogged down on the past – move forward

Don’t get stuck on focusing on failure, instead think about what you need to do to succeed. What’s the next step to losing that extra pound of weight or should you try something new? Make that change and move forward. It’s these experiences that shape us into winners.

Pablo Vandenabeele
Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK

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