Disappointments - get over them!
Disappointment tends to hit us when things don’t work out the way we had hoped. While it may be mild, such as just missing a green light on your way to work, it could also be something more substantial, like not getting that promotion you were working so hard for.
When it comes to major disappointments like the one above, it's important to do what you can to move past it as quickly as possible.
Allowing yourself to wallow in self pity may seem tempting, but in the end you don't gain anything and dwelling too long on the times you've let yourself down, or been let down by others is likely to do more harm than good.
Let go of your anxiety
The first thing you need to do is let it out. This does not mean lashing out at others, for that would be pointless. No one will ever be able to understand your disappointment as much as you do.
Crying is a wonderful and natural way to release emotion – and strangely enough, you will feel better for having a good cry, be you male or female. It is perfectly OK to feel bad about what happened for some time. However, unless you get it out of your system, you will never be able to move on.
Think rationally – if you can
This is what you may think of as putting things into perspective. Will what happened to you be relevant one year from now? How about a month from today? A week?
Sometimes, you might have suffered a setback at work. You might think it will mar your long-term career, but a disappointment can be for the better. Some people get fired up in the face of setbacks and start doing better at work, which forces management to sit up and take notice; and they eventually accomplish even more than they would have without encountering those setbacks.
For some people, it is an opportunity to move on to another employer – and still get a pay rise, or maybe that senior position that they wanted. This is how obstacles are often the stepping stones to success.
No door ever closes without another opening. But the problem is we keep staring too long at the door which is closed, instead of paying attention to the one which has just opened up.
But what often happens is that we are unable to think clearly, when our emotions cloud our judgment. This is perfectly understandable. In such a scenario, you would do well to talk to a trusted colleague, friend or family member, who will lend you his/her shoulder to cry on, and offer sympathetic advice. Another person’s perspective of the matter might be just what you need to get out of the funk you find yourself in.
Is this really something to get disappointed about? Having someone steal your car is terrible, sure – but is it as bad as your car getting written off in an accident? So while things may look grim from your point of view, it's important to keep in mind that things could be worse.
Count your blessings
We often focus on what we don’t have or what we didn’t get, instead of what we already have.
Try taking a little time to reflect on what is going right rather than what's going wrong. You may have had a terrible day, but in the end it's just one day and there's always tomorrow to look forward to.
If you're healthy, with food in your fridge a roof over your head and money in the bank (even if it's not as much as you wish), you're still doing a lot better compared to the millions who can't say the same.
If you've got good friends or a family that really cares about you, then there's still certainly a lot you can still look forward to.
In the grand scheme of things, even being able to read this post puts you ahead of those who never had to opportunity to learn how to read or get an education. Think about that…
Being grateful for what you have is a definite way to help you shrug off your disappointment. What is more, it can also help you be less affected by disappointment in the future when something undesirable happens.
Take time to heal
If it is a major disappointment, you need to take your mind off it. Do something that you enjoy. Then when you come back to the situation, you will find that you don’t feel as bad as before.
Self healing is an important element to dealing with disappointment – you can do it.
Take time to recognise your really good points and uniqueness in your life will aid your healing. We often spend time beating ourselves up over so called ‘failures’, but how often do we spend time congratulating ourselves and giving ourselves a good pat on the back?
See if there is anything you can learn
Most of the time, there is always a lesson to be learned. There are plenty of people who deal with disappointment the right way – by making the effort to ensure similar disappointing situations can be avoided in the future. This might require you to make changes, but it will be worth it. If you failed an exam, your best recourse may simply be to study harder.
If something didn’t happen, it could be because something better is meant to happen. Michelle Yeoh was so set on being a ballerina that she trained in ballet right from the age of four. Just imagine how crushed she must have been when told that she could never ever pursue her dream because of a spinal injury that she suffered as a teenager. She turned her focus to choreography, which led her to drama, and then film. Today, she is an internationally renowned actor.
Simply Accept that disappointment is a part of life but limit its affect
At the end of the day, you simply need to come to terms that life is always going to have its ups and downs. If you lived a life without any problems or challenges to overcome, it would eventually be dull and hardly worth living.
So in its own way, the occasional disappointment that comes once in a while – just like happiness – is a good thing. It helps you stay grounded and balanced.
Failure is indeed an option
So, lets turn this around and accept that failing could be the inevitable outcome. What then?
After overcoming obstacles all of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King was convinced that “the measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and adversity”
In our society, ‘fail’ has become an objectionable four-letter word, both personally and in business. We rarely use it, and most of us try not to even think about it, often resorting to blaming others about our personal misfortunes or perceived ‘failures’.
Young children learn early on that failing is not acceptable behaviour. In some cases, children are so frightened of failure that they often will not try out a new sport or accept a new challenge like learning a language. They have been conditioned to see failure as too harmful, too destructive and therefore to be avoided at all costs. It is far easier to say no and stay in a ‘comfortable’ place, than to risk ridicule from your peers and the outside world.
History is littered with examples of ‘failure’ that turned in some ways to triumph or success. The retreat of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940, Apollo 13’s abortive space mission, Earnest Shackleton’s Antarctica disaster are all examples of ‘failures’ that turned into triumphs of some sort. I too, have faced ‘failure’. My Indian Ocean Row in 2003 was a failure – in that we did not get to the end goal of rowing across an ocean. Did I find it easy to accept then – no. Do I find it easier to accept now – yes. I see it now as a triumph in understanding and developing myself.
Conversely by turning it around, it is also interesting that success is usually preceded by failure. In fact, most successful people today find that their success is the result of persisting beyond the disappointments and failures. Usually, not one failure but many failures enables them to discover their route to success.
A great example of course is Thomas Edison and his desire to perfect the electric incandescent light bulb. Many ‘failures’ eventually led him to success and his now famous quote “We now know a thousand ways how not to build a light bulb”. A good 10 minute talk about present day failures being something that you can embrace and even applaud can be found in the TED talk by Astro Teller called ‘The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure’ http://www.ted.com/talks/astro_teller_the_unexpected_benefit_of_celebrating_failure/transcript?language=en - t-527199
So, what choices do we have when faced with potential or actual failure?
Without doubt, the easiest choice is to be satisfied with failure and give up entirely. I mean completely walking away from something and never thinking about it again - ever. However, I say a very real option is to be persistent in achieving success, and ‘sticking in there’ by thinking about the motivation behind these 3 ideas:
So, it is up to you entirely what to do when things get tough – elicit help of course, work hard naturally, but keep going yourself is the key. Shifting perspective is sometimes more powerful than being smart, so a different perspective on the feeling and word ‘failure’ can bring unexpected results. You can most certainly do much more than you think you are capable of.
Finally, I give you one of my favourite quotes ever. It sums up what we all know to be true. No-one can knock the person who actually tried and gave it their best, whatever the outcome.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.