Q I’ve suffered a few setbacks and disappointments in the last year, and seem to be bogged down in them. I don’t seem able to bounce back.

Motivational speaker W. Mitchell has been quoted as saying “It’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s what we do about it that makes the difference.”

When presented with rejection and/or defeat, most people have one of two reactions. They either let it beat them or they rise above it.

I call these two responses “dropping dead” and “bouncing back.”

How to ‘drop dead’

• Believe that this event defines you and your life now and forever.

• Focus only on what happened to you and nothing else.

• Organize whole life, around what happened. Talk about nothing else. Bore your friends.

• Quit. Give up. Throw in the towel.

• Believe in your heart that you have failed. Even worse, define yourself as a failure.

• Focus on the past, something you can do nothing about.

• Go it alone.

How to ‘bounce back’

• It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “People are about as happy as they decide to be.”

• Implement the principle of NEXT!!! This one comes from the world of sales. The top sales people in any field have trained themselves to handle rejection by saying “next” to themselves. In this context “next” means to move on into the future and not get stuck in the past, even the recent past.

• Implement the principle of Open Doors. God never closes one door without opening several others. We have to look for them, however.

• Focus on the present and future, two things you can do something about. The best way to predict the future is to create it as close as you can to the way you would like it to be.

• Install a new belief that says I can only fail if I quit or if I don’t learn something from the experience.

• Get the support you need.

• Make a place for what has happened in your life. It may stink, not be fair, and you may hate it. But it did happen, and denying it will only come back to bite you later on. Then put it in its place. Which is behind you, in the past. Think of the event like a chapter in a book that you do not have to read again and again.

• Become a bouncer! A bouncer is someone who has taken a huge leap past just merely surviving. Some folks consider it a compliment to be called a survivor. Spare me. Let’s bounce back and live our best life!

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist.

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