Any situation in the right context can become a positive experience. Even failure, grave loss and discouragement are potentially powerful if we will frame them correctly and accept personal responsibility for our actions and responses.

Have you ever lost a loved one, had a business fail after a strong, sincere effort on your part, had a relationship crumble that you had hoped would last?

Setbacks like these are often defining events in a person's life. How we metabolize these experiences on a mental, emotional and physical level can strongly affect our well-being. Some people appear to rebound quickly. Others have difficulty recovering and getting back on track for a fulfilling life. Some never do recover.

Admitting that death, lawsuits, divorce and large scale failure are formidable challenges, here is a proposal on how to deal with them.

1. Define exactly your major challenge. Even if it is obvious, write it down. The act of defining on paper helps to make a problem appear more manageable.

2. Determine whether you need professional help and guidance to recover from the experience. If you don't know, or if the situation has you confused and not thinking clearly, assume that you do need help. Ask competent friends, co-workers, medical, clergy or financial contacts for suggestions on where to get help and then get the help you need.

3. Here is the logic flow that allows a negative experience to become a positive one, but it takes courage and determination. The end of the process is a renewed purpose and energy for life. The alternative is possible self-destructive behavior and sub-optimal living.

A severe setback causes suffering.

Suffering leads to questioning. We wonder what went wrong. We ask, "Could we have avoided it somehow?" Guilt might enter the equation if we feel that we did not do all we could have done to avoid the situation.

Questioning leads to seeking. We try to find answers to the questions that the suffering has raised. Here is where professional help can shorten the recovery process.

Counselors and consultants can help sort the questions we ask ourselves. They can help us understand the processes involved. They can help us devise a recovery plan. They can help us stay on track as we carry out the plan.

Seeking eventually leads to the discussion of options and alternatives. Again, professionals can help in this process.

From seeking we move toward finding solutions. Solutions lead to answers to the probing questions originally raised by the suffering we experience.

Correct answers lead to understanding. When we know the why and the how of an experience, we can understand it in its context. Understanding allows for acceptance. Although we don't like what happened, although it caused pain and we wished it had not happened, we can come to accept that it did happen.

From acceptance can come personal peace and growth. Once we accept a situation or experience, we can decide to move on, beyond it. We can decide to learn about ourselves through the healing and recovery process.

Recovery is not always an easy process. However, it is always a necessary process for one who wants to get back to living a productive and fulfilling life.