Aug. 16, 2023

Managing Setbacks: A Stepping Stone to Success

While setbacks can be a source of stress, they can also be an opportunity to learn, grow, and get better.

What does a setback mean to you? It could mean not achieving the grades you hoped for, failing a course, not getting a job, or experiencing relationship problems. While it may seem like the worst outcome, the truth is: all setbacks, big or small, are an inevitable part of life. While setbacks can be a source of stress, they can also be an opportunity to learn, grow, and get better.

In this blog post, we will explore helpful tips on how to cope with challenges and come out stronger than ever before.

Give yourself permission to feel

When you encounter setbacks, it is important to acknowledge your feelings. This means you taking the time to recognize and validate the emotions that arise within you, whether it is sadness, disappointment, anxiety, anger or even a sense of loss. By doing so, you create a space for healing and self-reflection.

Practice self-compassion

While we tend to be warm, caring, and understanding toward others, we don't always extend that same compassion to ourselves. An important step when dealing with setbacks is to treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Examples of ways to practice self-compassion could be as simple as giving a big hug to yourself, practicing self-meditation (this really helps!), treating yourself with your favorite food, giving yourself encouragement, or just being patient with your shortcomings.

Focus on your effort, not just the outcome

Whether you have failed an exam or are struggling to keep up with a course, ask yourself the following questions:

"Did I try my best?"

"Have I done everything I could to prevent this from happening?"

If the answer is yes, recognize that you have already succeeded in giving your all. If the answer is no, use the experience as a valuable opportunity for growth. Reflect on what you can learn from the situation and how you can improve in the future. By focusing on your efforts, you can find motivation to keep moving forward and strive for even greater achievements.


Your shortcomings do not define who you are. We all feel inadequate at times. By changing how you think about setbacks, you open yourself up to new possibilities and growth. Remember to embrace your emotions, be kind to yourself, focus on your effort, and learn from every challenge. Overcoming a setback is just a stepping stone on your path to success.

Remember that you have the power to face any obstacle and turn a setback into a springboard for success.

If you are looking for additional support, please visit Student Wellness Services or the Student Success Centre.