The other day, as I was eating lunch at a restaurant, I overheard an argument between a husband and wife several seats away.
From what it seemed like, the wife was angry at the husband because he ordered what she had been keen on making that night. He didn’t know, but she had assumed that he knew what she had planned on making but decided to order anyways.
Their conversation went something along the lines of this:
“I don’t know why you thought it was a good idea to order the chicken. I was going to make it tonight! I even bought all the ingredients already.”
“I didn’t know…”
“You’re lying. There’s no way you couldn’t have known! The ingredients were in the fridge for the past two days!”
Listening to the her logic, I couldn’t help but find the entire premises of her very argument groundless and reeking of naivety.
Could her husband have deduced what she had planned to make just from the ingredients alone? She assumed he knew, but did he? And even if he did know, and chose to order the entree anyways, is it really that big of a deal?
The way I see it, the wife is being given opportunities, an opportunity to learn and innovate and come up with an entirely new dish for dinner and the opportunity to compare her skills against the restaurant at which they ate. Both are great opportunities but because the wife is so focused on the setback and the obstacle, she can’t see anything else. She doesn’t see the opportunities given to her.
All of us will at some point or another, whether we like it or not encounter setbacks and obstacles that prevent us from progressing, from moving forward. These are things that will happen no matter how much we plan or prepare for it. It comes unexpectedly; it doesn’t matter if we stick to a schedule, attempt to account for every scenario that might go wrong, it’ll still happen because that’s exactly how life is — full of factors that will be always out of our control.
There’s a common misconception that setbacks help you grow; it’s not true. It’s not the setback that helps you grow, it’s how you proceed after you’ve encountered that setback that determines your growth.
There’s a story I’ve read in a children’s book somewhere that illustrates this point. It’s about a thirsty crow that tries to drink water out of a vase but can’t.
A crow, thirsty, after having flown for miles under the hot scorching sun searches for water. It sees vase of water by a windowsill, seemingly left behind by a forgetful gardener. The crow, desperate for water, rushes to the vase and attempts to drink from it. He tries and tries but his beak is unable to reach the water. Eventually he gives up and flies away, but moments later the crow flies back with a pebble in its beak. He drops the pebble in the vase and continues to do so until water level rises to the point where he can reach it and he satisfies his thirst.
The crow in the story could’ve easily given up. He could’ve given up, just like the some of us do when we encounter setbacks. And because he didn’t, not only did he succeed but he also learned a new way to get water, a lesson to benefit him for the rest of his life.
All too often, we put ourselves in a situation where we focus only on what’s happened but not what’s next. We mull over, contemplate, argue over what’s already past, the milk that’s already spoilt. The wife, had she chose to, could’ve avoided the argument and instead sought the opportunities given to her and grew from the experience. She could’ve chosen any alternative to move on from the setback but she decided not to and blamed her husband instead.
When we’re unable to adapt and overcome the setbacks and obstacles we encounter, we become stuck in time, unable to progress. On a deeper level, we’re unable to make good on our promises to do better, to achieve our dreams and desires. We’re unable to turn our lives around for the better and decide on the destiny that we want. We blame our luck, our misfortune and the people we can to cover our own inability in overcoming that obstacle. We blame because it’s easier to do.
If we really wanted to, we could blame something, someone for our setbacks. We really could because nobody would care. Nobody would care about what happens to you if you don’t take responsibility for what happens next. They won’t care because they’re too busy dealing with their own setbacks that they don’t have the time to care. They’ve got their own goals, their own dreams and desires to achieve.
The only person that’ll ever truly care and perpetually be there to overcome your setbacks is yourself. That’s the one person you can always rely on. That’s the only one. If you don’t help yourself see past the obstacles, you’ll be forever stuck in time, in that very moment as others grasp the opportunities that once belonged to you. It’s by choice, and it’s always your choice.
“The past doesn’t define you, your present does. It’s okay to create a vision of the future because it affects your behavior in the “now,” but don’t dwell on past mistakes. Learn from them and focus those lessons in the moment. Thats where change can really happen. — Jillian Michaels