Part 2: Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks

Dr Demartini shares more practical tools in Part 2 of this special series on Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks.

Many of the greatest names in history once faced enormous setbacks – challenges that they later transformed into memorable COMEBACKS .

Dr Demartini shares more practical tools for dealing with setbacks in Part 2. (Access Part 1 Here)

The many so-called setbacks or challenges that you may be facing are actually great opportunities for learning.

The next time you face something you perceive to be a setback, try asking yourself, “How specifically is whatever is happening in my life helping me fulfil my highest values or what I perceive to be most important or my current life mission?” The reason for this is that any time you link situations and setbacks to your highest values, you increase your adaptability, resilience and creative inspiration.

In this way, you will tend to see challenging events or situations as FEEDBACKs instead of setbacks – feedbacks being when you can say “thank you” for what is happening; and setbacks are being when you can’t.

I have had many events in my life that I thought were challenging or could be seen as a setback. One that comes to mind occurred about 38 years ago when my first accountant misclassified a $70,000 loan that I got from a bank as taxable income, which meant that the errored tax form showed I needed to pay tax on borrowed money that I did not pay. I was understandably frustrated with the setback when I later became audited over the oversight, and the auditor found that the IRS actually owed me $17,000! It was also when I made the decision to get my financial house more in order, and to hire a new accountant who has been with me ever since.

If you prefer to watch the video, click below. ↓


By looking at the upside of a challenging situation or setback, I was able to balance my thinking and dissolve my perception of a financial setback. Instead, I was able to see it as feedback, and say “thank you” for the lessons I learned that helped me become more financially aware.

It would be wise to take a moment or two to think about it this way:

  • The more accurate knowledge you have, the less emotional you will likely be.
  • The less emotionally distracted you are, the more focused you will be.
  • When you are more focused, you are likely to be more objective.
  • When you are more objective, you are likely to experience fewer skewed perceptions of having experienced a “setback” and will tend to see things as being “On the way” not “in the way”.

If you have a skewed view and are subjectively biased in your perception, you are likely to have more impulsive fantasies, which are the cause of many of those nightmare-like setbacks.

Much of the time, those “setbacks” are due to unrealistic fantasies where you compare what IS happening to what you THINK should be happening.

However, if you ask, “How specifically is whatever is happening in my life helping me fulfill my highest values and what is truly most important?” you will be more likely to see the situation as feedback instead of a setback, and to say “thank you” for the resulting lessons and learning.

Anything you can’t say “thank you” for becomes subconsciously stored baggage and friction, and anything you can say “thank you” for is fuel.

I watched a recent interview with Lance Armstrong where he said that being stripped of his Tour de France titles was one of the greatest setbacks that had ever happened in his life. What he once perceived to be something he wasn’t sure he could ever recover from actually freed him from a distorted view of life and of himself. He then went on to talk about how grounded and focused he is now, and how his attention is more on helping other people instead of just thinking about himself.

He also described those setbacks as a “gift” and a “blessing”.

When you see the blessings in whatever is going on in your life, or do the work to balance your mind, things around you change and they fuel opportunity.

I am certain that you can change the world within and around you by changing your PERCEPTION of the world around you.

For example, I had a wonderful woman tell me that my signature seminar program, the Breakthrough Experience changed her relationship with her family – her mom, daughter, and husband.

She said, “I had expectations based on my own values that I was projecting onto the world, particularly my family members and I was expecting the world to live in my highest values. I was creating my setbacks and my anger and my frustrations over and over again, because no one was ever living up to my expectations. Now that I have calmed that down, started seeing people for who they are, and expecting them to live according to their OWN highest values instead of MINE, I realized that all the things that I thought were setbacks are actually normal behaviors. The only thing that changed were my perceptions and expectations of others!”

 Many setbacks are the result of false, or unrealistic expectations.

These could include:

  • Expectations of other people to live according to or in your highest values;
  • Expectations of people to be one-sided – nice never mean, kind never cruel,  + never − etc.;
  • Expectations of yourself to be one-sided; and
  • Expectations of yourself to be living outside of your highest values and in someone else’s highest values, which often happens when you are infatuated with people.


-> If you’re ready to determine your own unique hierarchy of values, you can do so for FREE on our website. Just click HERE to access the online 13 step Demartini Value Determination process to gain clarity on what is most important to you. Determining your highest values is the foundation of all human empowerment and fulfillment.


Let us imagine that you’re infatuated with someone. In doing so, you are likely to exaggerate them and minimize you, while also trying to live in their highest values. It’s almost impossible to sustain and you’re likely to start resenting them because you want your own true life back. However, because you’re infatuated with them, you also fear the loss of them, or their rejection, as well as the fantasy of how it was “supposed to” work out.

When you balance your thinking and find the upsides to the downsides of the relationship ending, you may realize that parting ways will set you free to live in your own true highest values, be yourself and get back on top of your game in the world.

In that way, the end of the relationship can be perceived as being a gift instead of a setback, and something you are actually grateful for as a chapter in your book of life.

Many setbacks can be the result of not thinking ahead.

When you live in accordance with your highest values and live congruently, you have the highest probability of awakening your brain’s Executive Center. This is where you activate your foresight, think things out in advance, consider potential downsides and strategize how you can prepare for and mitigate any obstacles or setbacks.

The biggest difference between people who are thinking from foresight versus people living from hindsight, is that hindsight is way less efficient and involves learning through trial and error.

People who have foresight are likely to prepare in advance and think about what could go wrong and prepare for it. They therefore tend to have a lot less distress and be more balanced in their orientation. In fact, foresight implies balance and objectivity.

So, if you go through and think about the worst-case scenarios or setbacks that can occur and prepare for them in advance, you decrease the probability of having those setbacks and are actually prepared for them should they occur. In that way you are able to act more than react.

That is the key difference between setting a goal that is really an objective or setting up a fantasy that is not. So, setbacks are our feedbacks in that respect. They are letting us know we could polish our goals and transform them from fantasies with unrealistic expectations into truly thought through objectives.

In conclusion, it would be wise to:
  • Be mindful of the three things you have control of in your life: your perceptions, decisions and actions;
  • Ask yourself: “What are the upsides to whatever is happening?” or “What would be the downsides if this hadn’t happened?” in situations that you perceive to be a setback.
  • Focus on balanced thinking (not just blinded positive thinking) so you can be resilient, adaptable, objective and grounded.
  • View setbacks as valuable feedback and opportunities for learning.
  • Master your life by transforming every perceived setback as an opportunity to fulfil your values, mission, purpose and vision in life.

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About Dr John Demartini:

Dr. John Demartini, is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author. He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award.

His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today. His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.

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