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When you face a setback, what’s your response - frustration, patience or something else?




From time to time we all face setbacks and recently I experienced a painful one. When I’m not coaching there’s a good chance I’ll be out hiking. I often rack up 15 – 20 miles a day with a smile on my face, a backpack of snacks (of course!) and not too many aches afterwards. But 6 (ish) weeks ago, I woke up to a sharp pain in my knee. I didn't think much of it at first, but when the pain increased with every step I took and I had to hobble up and down stairs, I began to take it a little more seriously.


Being the optimist I am, I reckoned that if I rested for a day the pain would go and I’d be back out hiking. This time reality didn’t match my optimism. After three days of rest, I realised that my knee wasn't going to get better quickly and I probably wouldn’t be lacing up my hiking shoes any time soon. At this point, I won’t lie, frustration crept (well, barged) in! I was frustrated because I didn’t know how this happened and also because it was stopping me from hiking – something I love to do which brings me calmness, clarity and great joy. I then began to catastrophise a tiny (huge) bit – "what if my knee doesn’t heal and I can't train for the ultra-series I’m signed up for next year? What if I can’t hike at all?"


So, I took a deep breath and chose to focus on what I could do, rather than the what ifs. I reset my goals - instead of walking 15 miles a day I scaled right back and aimed to walk pain free for 10 minutes every other day.


At times I felt angry that my daily goal was so basic compared to what I was used to and annoyed that I couldn’t always achieve it. But then I tapped into the patience and compassion I have when supporting others and applied it to myself. Instead of getting annoyed I began to notice the little day by day progress I was making; I could walk downstairs without hobbling, the pain wasn’t their when I first woke up, and wow – the first day when I could walk 20 minutes without pain – I was over the moon.


Being patient and noticing the small signs of progress gave me the determination to carry on and while I’m not yet walking 15 miles, I am up to around 9 miles - which is one gigantic step from where I began.


It makes me wonder what your experience of setbacks is and what’s helped you to bounce back from them? If you would like to try a different approach, join me in a conversation.

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