Dealing with setbacks is pretty much part of life. We inflict a list of shoulds on our existence and the universe then laughs and laughs and deals us a different hand of cards to play. So how do we get back to the reality we’ve always wanted?

The first part of dealing with a setback is figuring out what you had to do with it. There are several possibilities. Were you expecting too much? Were you expecting it to just happen for free? For example, I really thought that after all this time working my ass off with CrossFit crap that I would be a better CrossFitter but what the hell is a better CrossFitter? Were my expectations out of sync with reality? In fact, I’m a damn good CrossFitter. I show up, I follow coaching prompts, I work hard. That’s pretty much the whole deal. Do I move as much iron as I would hope? No. Can I run a mile? No. Can I string together a whole mess of double unders? No.

Were my hopes pretty damn unrealistic? Yes. Because you see, I move iron, I walk fast, and I can do one damn double under at a time.

So was this a setback or just unrealistic expectations? If I label this differently and if I accept my own responsibility for my dissatisfaction, I can get past this setback, because it wasn’t one. It was just defeating self-talk.

So what about a real setback? I was an OR nurse for over a decade. I loved the job and I loved the work I did. But … isn’t there always a but? But, laparoscopy cases were increasing and Xenon light sources were giving me migraines. The job was making me physically ill. The job I loved was something that was causing me pain.

What was my responsibility in this case? None. I was a victim of circumstances. What could I do about this? I tried for years to just take a variety of medications to control the migraines and other than suicidal ideation, gaining a ton or weight, losing a ton of weight, being highly agitated and unable to sit still, and/or turning into a total slug they worked fine. Well, they mostly kept the migraines away for a while and then I would switch to the next one.

My job was going to have to change and that was a setback. This was the job I loved. I got a different one and it led me on a totally different path and a second degree, this time in computer networking. And my life went off in a totally different direction and I found I could love other things and do them well.

So how do you get past a setback? The only thing I know that works is realistically looking at the issue and then figuring out if you can conquer it or if you need to redefine who you are. I will never stop being a nurse, although I am now an unregistered one. All that stuff is still inside my head and I call upon it when needed. It’s just that I now have other layers of me on top of it.

After you have defined the problem accurately, it is time to figure out solutions. My solution to migraines was to remove myself from the triggers causing them. For the record, it worked. It wasn’t the stress of the job because no matter how much stress I’ve had since, I don’t get a migraine. So removing myself worked.

But that just led to a new series of questions. If I wasn’t going to be a nurse, what was I going to be? When I found something I could like, I did that. When it didn’t work, I quit doing it and moved on to something related but with enough difference to see if I could like that. Then I tweaked my situation and found something that would work. At least for a while.

And I think that last phrase is the key. To get over a setback, you have to define it correctly and then work your way through or around it. At least for a while. What you tried may not work at all or it may not work forever. Either way, you have moved past the initial setback and if your problem isn’t completely solved, you at least now have a new problem to work on.

By the way, your problem will never be completely solved. What worked for you when you were twenty doesn’t necessarily work when you are forty. When you figure it out by forty, it won’t work the same twenty years later, not only because you change, but because the world changes, too.

When I was twenty, the technological world I currently live in wasn’t even thought of. There was no social media, we were using punch cards and mostly doing math stuff.

The way to look at a setback which might help is that here a piece to a puzzle. Your job is to figure out where it goes to make the entire puzzle the prettiest picture it can be.

setback

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I am competitive. My baby sister just read that and said in a very sarcastic tone, “Ya think?”

Yes, I think so. I enjoy winning. Always. Set up a contest and I want to win it. There doesn’t have to be a prize, I just want to win. I want to be the best, not just the best me I can be, but the actual best. It is disheartening how often I fail at that, but it does keep me striving.

My biggest obstacle for CrossFit is how pitiful I am. Putting thing on the white board is often embarrassing. I’m supposed to feel good about the fact that I at least showed up. And I am. It is really hard to show up so many times a week – especially when the numbers on the white board are so crappy. Day after day, week after week, month after month. They are crappy numbers. They are much better numbers than they were before which is the only thing anyone can hope for and why I keep going back.

When I saw the invitation to a dinner party in the midst of this WLC, my first reaction was to just decline. I didn’t have to do this. But I enjoy spending an evening with our friends. This is the Whole LIFE Challenge, not a death sentence. It is supposed to show me how to have a better, more balanced, life. I am not supposed to hide. Health shouldn’t be something you tack on to the remainder of your day, but the foundation for the rest of your longer, healthier, stronger, fitter, more able life.

So after a few moments of stark terror and perhaps even getting misty eyed, I took a deep breath and opted to go. I knew I would be losing a point or two, but what the hell. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and this was going to be enjoyable.

I brought along fruit with homemade complaint (at beginner level) dips and figured it was a way to avoid what I knew would be tempting, tasty treats. It worked. We were served chicken Marsala with a pasta side and a salad. So I took a hit on the pasta. It was the first pasta I have had in six weeks and it was fabulous. So was the chicken. The salad was safe. I stayed away from the bread.

Steve brought some stuffed tomatoes that looked great and everyone said were wonderful. They had three different kinds of cheese and bread crumbs for the stuffing along with I don’t remember what else. But they would have been another point. Maybe next time.

Chris made something called potato candy which was mashed potatoes with confectioners sugar and other stuff in there squished between two graham crackers and topped with chocolate. I’m not sure about them no matter what. I don’t like mashed potatoes at all, ever. But I would probably have tried a bite.

The hardest thing to stay away from was Dianne’s tiramisu. It looked like it wanted me to take a slice and enjoy the moment. I could have. I have extra bonus points. It wouldn’t have killed me. But the deal I made with myself was fruit for dessert because I could. The only person I would have cheated was myself – the only person who really matters.

I made a promise to myself to not talk about either CrossFit or the Whole Life Challenge and this stupid diet and its dumb restrictions. But I couldn’t manage to keep my mouth shut. Everyone was kind and didn’t try to encourage me to eat outside my dietary restrictions and I was truly grateful. I got asked some quite lucid questions and I did my best to answer them.

I believe strongly in this health stuff I’m doing. I want to continue with some – but certainly not all – of the dietary stuff when this is over. I am totally astounded every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I’ve only lost between 15 and 20 pounds over the course of an entire year with just five in the last few weeks. But the packaging is so totally different.

All the hard work shows in what I look like now. But that is only the superficial part. I am stronger. I am more flexible. I am more balanced. I have more stamina. I am faster. Even my heart rate is better. I’m even more confident, which is probably something I didn’t need.

In fact, I’m winning at my life. This is the best me I can be at this age. I’m not the same as I was when I was playing racquetball as obsessively as I am now doing CrossFit. I was much younger back then. But I don’t shy away from stuff like I did a year ago. I’m still old and I don’t ever have a chance to forget that. But I am one strong, powerful, bitchin’ ass old broad. I’m totally rocking this old fart thing.

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