Struggle to deal with setbacks? TikTok’s 'Burnt Toast Theory' might help

Most of us tend to fall within two camps: the glass half full cohort and the glass half empty community.

But a new theory on TikTok aims to recruit more people into the former category  – all through the power of positive thinking.

‘The Burnt Toast’ theory, that’s currently doing the rounds on the platform, is the idea that when something irritating, annoying or frustrating happens – like burning your morning toast – it’s because it’s part of a bigger plan.

That failure or inconvenience might have delayed something even worse happening.

One TikToker explains: ‘Burnt toast theory is the idea that if you burn your toast before work and it adds five to 10 minutes to your trip, it’s actually saving you from something catastrophic.

‘Maybe saving you from a car accident. Maybe saving me from someone who you don’t want to run into. But this is the idea that inconveniences in our lives, or when something releases us in the universe, it’s either saving us from something more detrimental or pushing us in the direction that we need to go in.’

Monday morning thoughts… shoutout to the internet for sharing this wisdom so passing it along 💖❤️‍🩹 #therapytiktok #advice #anxiousattachment #fyp

Psychotherapist and therapeutic counsellor Rosalind Miles, from Counselling Directory, says: ‘People might find Burnt Toast Theory resonates with their values of compassion and reasoning. It helps them to find acceptance surrounding the “why” of something that has happened within their life. 

‘This can be a small trigger, or a bigger life event. The theory is not limited to the amount of meaning it can offer.’

However, it also could be a good way to approach setbacks. Of course, burning toast is only a minor setback in comparison to losing out on a job, being dumped, getting injured, or simply having a terrible day – but we can still applying the same thinking.

Life and career coach Natalie Trice says: ‘The theory looks at is how we can be aware of our mindset, how we tackle setbacks and view the world around us.

‘Yes, when things don’t go our way, it can be frustrating but ultimately it will lead to something else. You don’t get the job could lead to you getting a promotion where you are or landing something better. Being dumped by text isn’t fun, but letting that bad date go free opens you up to meeting someone who will be kind and considerate. 

‘Essentially, setbacks aren’t the end of the world and if you think of challenges this way, you are on the road to being more self-aware and building more of a growth mindset.’

Natalie says this way of thinking ultimately helps us to build mental resilience, too.

She says: ‘The next time something unexpected, uncomfortable or annoying happens, just take a moment to see if it really is bad. Are you in danger? Are you hurt? Is there a new way ahead?

‘Yes, you can write a blasting review on Glassdoor or post a passive aggressive TikTok, or you can reassess, find a new way forward and drop the negativity that could cloud the rest of your day.

‘There will of course be instances when you really do feel like the universe is against you but building resilience means you don’t have to sweat the small stuff and have the strength to deal with challenges with ease and calm.’

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