Rebounding from failures and setbacks

As an educator, I’m becoming more and more aware of how formal schooling neglects to prepare our students to anticipate and cope with failures and setbacks in their careers and their lives in general.  Many in their early to mid twenties view life as linear and upward, and most of us who work with students do very little to dissuade them of this belief.  However, we all know that life rarely works out that way.  Hopefully the good outweighs the bad, but there are no guarantees.

Bruce Grierson, writing in Psychology Today, offers some interesting insights as to why some people bounce back from adversity while others let it get the better of them.  Here’s an excerpt where he talks about the possibility of “post-traumatic growth”:

A theory is gaining momentum that looks at failure differently. Failure, it says, is at worst a mixed blessing: It hurts, but can pay off in the form of learning and growth and wisdom. Some psychologists, like the University of Virginia’s Jonathan Haidt, go even further, arguing that adversity, setbacks, and even trauma may actually be necessary for people to be happy, successful, and fulfilled. “Post-traumatic growth,” it’s sometimes called. Its observers are building a solid foundation under the anecdotes about wildly successful people who credit their accomplishments to earlier failures that pushed them to the edge of the abyss.

Articles such as this one provide us with good food for thought on how we can recover and grow in response to difficult experiences and circumstances.  For Bruce Grierson’s “Weathering the Storm”:

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