Things Go Wrong. Get Over It. 4 Failsafe Ways To Do It

Things go wrong. Get over it.

Don’t you just hate when things go wrong. No question mark needed on the end of that sentence. Because as humans, we hate when it happens. At least initially.

And while I’m a proponent of feeling the hurt, pain, anger—whatever emotion—I know I can’t stay there.

You know it too.

And whether you had a career setback, a romance foiled, a friendship gotten prickly, the car won’t start or the carpet came up, most times you’re left with having to do something about it. Talk about adding insult to injury! I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at a flat tire and said, “Fix your ownself.”

Of course, said tire never did. And not much else does either.

Isn’t it just a truth of this life that we have to spend the effort to take care of the stuff that’s broken in whatever way, whether looking for a new job, working through that friendship problem, calling the carpet folks, or soothing our own broken hearts.

For me, anyway, it’s easy to get caught up in the pity pot if I’m not careful. Real careful. I do give myself a set time to wallow, but it’s not a long time. And then the focus has to turn to going forward.

And don’t’cha know that’s easier said than done!

So here’s a list of what to I do when things go wrong. It’s a short list, but then, when I’m upset, I need to cut to the chase.

1. The How of It.

Although we all know that asking some kinds of ‘why’ questions is fruitless—why did this happen to me?—the understanding of what went wrong and how that came about sure helps me to see my own part.

I do believe we create our own realities, so I always have a part in the problem. Even if it was simply that my attitude stunk.

Then, I can go on to what I can do differently in the future. I find that comforting. For God’s sake, the last thing I want to do is repeat mistakes!

2. Forgiving Myself and Others.

That part, I just gotta do. Otherwise, I replay the transgressions over and over in my head, and the pain and suffering (no matter how the emotion comes out) remains. And this is especially a tough one for me if I’m more than a little at fault. Takes me longer to forgive myself than to forgive you! But that’s a topic for another day.

Something that’s come up for me quite often of late is not to judge. I’ve been re-watching The Power of Myth (so love Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers!) and Campbell has a long segment of how myths from all cultures have the same motif of non-judgment and forgiveness. About how even in the face of mass killings, starvations, whatever horror faces us today, our job isn’t to judge. That doesn’t mean we don’t take action to correct said horror, but just that we don’t attach judgment to it.

I’m still working on this one. Especially in light of Charlottesville, but again, another topic for another day . . . .

And of course, I take more consolation from the words of writers, as in Oscar Wilde’s take on this: Everyone may not be good, but there’s always something good in everyone. Never judge anyone shortly because every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

And I have to laugh—this is something I tell my writers all the time about creating multi-faceted characters!

Once I go through that process (although both of those are often ongoing until I dig it all out), I get to the one that actually shoots me forward:

3. Will this matter 6 months—or even 6 weeks—from now?

That speaks to ‘how important is it,’ but I can’t think of it that way yet.

At first, my ego shouts, “This is vital! If x doesn’t happen we die!”

Now, your ego might not be as dramatic as mine, but that’s where I usually go.

But by looking at the occurrence in the harsh light of day, I can almost always discern whether I’ll even think about it months or even weeks from now. And if I won’t, well, shoot! Why am I stressing over it today? Call the stinking plumber and get on with it!

4. And Finally, Acceptance of Things I Cannot Change.

Yep, the old 12-step motto (I learned an awfully lot in the Al-anon groups). Maybe I shouldn’t have driven the Mini Cooper down that dirt road. Or, maybe it picked up the nail in a paved parking lot. Who knows. The thing is, the tire’s flat, so again, fix it!

Course, that sentiment’s easier with something as simple as a tire. Matters of the heart, in all fashions, are different indeed.

But if Viktor Frankl, who had things far worse than I can ever imagine, can do this, than so can I: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How do you get over setbacks?

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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38 comments
robin rue says August 23, 2017

It’s pretty hard to accept things we can’t change sometimes, but you are so right – we have to learn to do it. Great advice.

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    Susan Malone says August 23, 2017

    It’s one of those things that may be simple, but simple isn’t easy, is it, Robin!

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Joyce Hansen says August 23, 2017

I think it takes us a while, or for some never, to realize that we have to fix ourselves. It’s always, fate, the other guy, or the world is against us.We have all the reasons why it’s not us. We talk about life being an experience but not an experience that we can create. Still much to learn here, but it’s a start if we can look to fixing ourselves first.

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    Susan Malone says August 23, 2017

    Isn’t that it in a nutshell, Joyce–it always comes back to personal responsibility. Life is in our court 🙂

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Colleeen says August 23, 2017

Hey, Susan. Good reminders! One thing I’ve started to really lean on that helps is good ol’ experience. The more we solve problems, the better we get at it. I’ve learned to breathe through the initial emotional reaction and remember that I’ve solved problems successfully before. It works, and I solve another problem, and gain more experience for the next time around. Practice practice. We just have to learn to do everything! (ha)

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    Susan Malone says August 23, 2017

    I know I do, Colleen! And I do the same thing–take a deep breath and know I’ve handled issues before 🙂 That works for me too!

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Marcie W. says August 23, 2017

Fantastic points and wonderful things to think about. I feel forgiveness is one of my toughest struggles, but I also understand that doing so is more about healing myself than making the other person feel better.

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Heather says August 23, 2017

It’s unhealthy to hold in resentment, pout, or be depressed over it. This is so very true!

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Neely Moldovan says August 23, 2017

I think the how and the why are so important with setbacks. Just reevaluating things adn figuring out a new plan.

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Brandy says August 23, 2017

The hardest part in life for me, when making mistakes especially in parenthood to be honest, is letting go of how hard of a time I give myself. I am so glad you wrote this, quite helpful!

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    Isn’t that just the toughest one, Brandy! But we do know that beating ourselves up for a mistake doesn’t do one whit of good 🙂

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Tamuria says August 23, 2017

Excellent advice, Susan. I recently had an issue that left me feeling really let down by a certain group of people and pretty much followed these exact steps to get over it. It’s important to give your self a little time for wallowing but more important not to get stuck there, With all the rotten things happening everywhere on the planet right now, I too find it tough not to judge. I agree, as creators of our realities we need to be prepared to recognise where we went wrong, and then forgive ourselves.

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    And that’s just it in a nutshell, isn’t it, Tami. Can be hard to do! But then we can see where we can actually help the situation.

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Katarina Andersson says August 23, 2017

GOod tips Susan, and I think the last one to just accept the things you cannot control is the one I like the most….as most often you otherwise just obsess to much about the stuff.

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    Which I’ve been good at doing, Katarina. Lol. But getting better about it!

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Jen says August 23, 2017

I love the idea of thinking about “6 months or 6 years…will this matter”! It really puts it into perspective and allows us not to let the negativity hang around.

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    It does, doesn’t it, Jen. So often what I obsess about today, I won’t even remember down the road!

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Scott says August 23, 2017

Not getting upset over the things you cannot change is the hardest. You still always wonder what you could have done differently.

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    So true, Scott. The old ‘what if’ game. Now I try and focus on ‘what if’ something goes right!

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Heather Johnson says August 23, 2017

Things go wrong for everyone all the time. Learning to deal with those disappointments is a big part of adulting!

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    It is, Heather! One of those things about adulting we don’t often like. Lol

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Hey Sharonoox says August 24, 2017

It’s not the easiest thing to accept defeat and to shallow it like a bitter pill but life isn’t a bed of roses everyday. My biggest setback is self-forginess. I need to work on it more.

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    We all do, don’t we. That’s one of the biggest bugaboos we as humans face!

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com says August 24, 2017

Hi Susan! Wouldn’t you know this is EXACTLY what I needed to be reminded about this morning. When I tried to check my website–barely one week in with my new host–and my website was DOWN! Don’t you just hate that???? Anyway, the good news is that this “isn’t my first rodeo” so I contacted them and have been told it was a slight variation on one of the plugins that caused the problem and that it might take an hour or two to resolve. What’s a girl to do? Well your suggestions are perfect. And a great reminder that by this afternoon it will be all forgotten. And as you say, remembering others have it far, far worse than I is always helpful. ~Kathy

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    Susan Malone says August 24, 2017

    Eeeek! I feel your pain, Kathy! I’ve had that happen, and oh, the dread in the belly! But thankfully, as you say, you know how to fix it–call the hosting company. Lol. And yep, soon you’ll be back up and running!

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Mindy Iannelli says August 24, 2017

Perfect beginning, ending, and everything in between! It is so freeing to know that we are in control of something, at least, when things go very wrong. We are in control of how we respond and what we do next. Lovely lesson that unfortunately some will never learn, too stuck in the past to enjoy the future.

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    Susan Malone says August 25, 2017

    That’s about all we can control, isn’t it, Mindy–our own side of the street. One of life’s most difficult lessons!

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Angela Noel says August 25, 2017

What a fantastic list–short and powerful. I asked for THE POWER OF MYTH series two years ago for my birthday! Campbell’s message (and love of myth) shows us all that the stories we tell ourselves and each other throughout time haven’t changed much in theme, but evolve to fit the times and context of the storytellers.
I also think your point on dissecting the “how” is magical. Seeing how I contributed to the situation helps me regain the power I give up when I blame others or “the situation” for something I’m unhappy about. When I understand my role in the problem, I can take steps to effect change. I’m not deluded into thinking I have total control. Only that I do have the power to affect my reactions, emotions, and next steps in any given situation. Powerful!

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    Susan Malone says August 25, 2017

    Isn’t The Power of Myth just fabulous, Angela! I watched it with my dad (a psychiatrist) when it first aired, and oh, the discussions we had! I too have the dvd series, and now and then will just re-watch. I so, so love Campbell, and Moyers was just brilliant bringing out all the various tangents. May just watch it again this weekend 🙂
    And isn’t it the truth–when we see our parts in things, we can begin to change. That’s it in a nutshell, no?

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Reba Linker says August 27, 2017

“Will this matter 6 months—or even 6 weeks—from now?” That is a great question to ask myself as I know in a week’s time this thing – my irritation du jour – will probably be far, far from my consciousness.

I find that the most powerful mindset shift is switching from the natural response of “why is this happening TO me?” to “why is this happening FOR me?” That one shift has helped clients reframe their entire lives and sent them in all kinds of powerful new directions. For people who embrace it, it is magic.

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    Susan Malone says August 28, 2017

    Oh, I love that shift, Reba–“why is this happening FOR me?” Now that’s powerful!

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Candess M Campbell says August 28, 2017

I love this Susan and it was very time appropriate for me. Thanks for the reminder. I am so impressed with your wisdom!

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    Susan Malone says August 29, 2017

    Isn’t it funny how we run into what we need at just the right time, Candess!

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Lorii Abela says August 29, 2017

I love your presentation here. It is interesting that if one can just analyze all of these items, it can lessen one’s stress. Stress is a killer and it makes life less fun. If you get attached to the result, then there is much resistance to some great opportunities that the Universe may present.

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    Susan Malone says August 30, 2017

    So true, Lorii–by detaching from the result, we set the Universe free to bring what we couldn’t even dream of!

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