It’s not just a conversation with friends anymore. You finally have that plan together to achieve those future hopes and dreams that have been on your heart since you were twelve.

Unfortunately, a felt sense of doom is already flowing through you, indicating another battle will be lost. You thought, “this time was going to be different,” and even with some expert advice, you still “feel stuck.” What you might be experiencing are common setbacks that are a part of learning while chasing your passion. If this is the case, it can be a natural part of this process. What you may need is some tweaking of how you are handling and planning for the setbacks internally.

All too often, the fear of failure increases from the inside-out due to stressful situations. You realize this is one of those moments for you as the automatic flight or fight (AFOF) response we all have is present (Craske & Barlow 2006). For you, it may include racing thoughts, shallow and quicker breathing sweaty palms, tense muscles, nausea, the heart beats faster, and changes in vision. Overlooking these, particularly when starting something so important to you, may lead to
feeling overwhelmed and losing hope. Unattended, it can be what causes us to not only “feel stuck,” but can also be the death of our future hopes and dreams. Three ways to ensure this is not the case include recalibrating inner-balance, problem-solving, and thinking realistically (Bilsker, Goldner, & Anderson 2012). These tools explore within-self obstacles to navigate and prevent them from happening again. They can become our dream catchers and reverse any self-imposed
constructions, relapses, or limitations that do not exist.

Recalibrating Inner Balance: In an (AFOF) moment, we can get this illusion that commitment to this endeavor is to do whatever it takes to get there even if it costs us our health in the process. After all, we have ten books on “success” telling us to be up at 4:00 am if we want to get ahead or suggest “sleep when you die.” As a result, we forget to keep up with areas of self-care and can become out of balance. As the situation plays out, we do not consider how our inner world of
thoughts and emotions impact our actions and external functioning. Bilsker, Goldner, and Anderson (2012) highlight that we may sleep less or begin to drink too much coffee or alcohol or change what, how, and when we eat, as examples. Maybe it is physical activities that drop off to meet the new demands. We may engage in this phase of life and do not consider other responsibilities. We may assume our work encounters are social interactions, and we do not realize we have become withdrawn socially. We are caught in our own “cul-de-sac of inanity” resulting in a state of interpersonal ineffectiveness. However, there is a way out of this through attunement to relationships, the balance of priorities and demands, balance of wants-to and should-to, and adjusting. To get there, we need a process to solve the problem.

Problem Solving: As we recalibrate our inner world, we need to be able to problem solve while using our strengths and left constraints. We begin by identifying the constraints and brainstorming solutions to solve the problem with our strengths. Next, after we select three solutions and compare the advantages and disadvantages, we will choose one. Using that solution, we execute realistic goals such as SMART Goals. SMART Goals will allow a review of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound testing of the solution (Bilsker, Goldner & Anderson (2012). Once in place, we can carry out actions and evaluate the results. This will lead to having a solution, revisions, or a new approach.

Thinking Realistically: During problem-solving, we all need a plan to handle and prevent setbacks. Strategies that can help us identify and be aware of our internal thoughts and emotions and how they may be impacting our view of the situation, ourselves, and others. As an example, if specific ideas are not helping, we challenge them and replace them with truths. Also, along the way, we will begin to become aware of any triggering situations. Once we are more aware of
inefficiencies in our inner world, triggering conditions, and external behaviors, we can be proactive. Over time accepting realistic thoughts as the truth and catching triggers before they have an impact will bring balance to our inner world. As we work towards interpersonal effectiveness, a proactive mindset will also help avoid predicting the future as well as navigating setbacks, and struggles.