Three life skills that outwit disappointment. Yay!
Disappointment is the feeling we experience when something goes wrong or when something doesn’t turn out the way we intended. It also comes in a variety of guises; from minor setbacks, where we feel quite capable of bouncing back from small scale events, to disappointment on a grand scale with more serious consequences. This can take its toll leaving us feeling depleted and far less able to cope with the long term effects of what has happened.
So what can be done when disappointment sits at the grand end of the scale?
There's always something quite liberating when we pause and take time out to really get under the skin of something; because there's a very good chance we'll learn something about ourselves. So with your best foot forward and an open mind, the starting point has to be understanding the nature of the particular disappointment.
This will raise your self-awareness, increase yourpersonal resilience and capacity to cope; three life skills which can be used in all kinds of situations. They also come into their own when combined with patience and practice.
To take this idea further, the techniques below have been devised to help increase your self-awareness and how you respond when disappointment sets in. Over time, the development of these skills will help you become better equipped, more resourceful and more able to outwit and overcome the more disruptive events that life has a habit of throwing at us.
Simply pick and choose those which resonate with you most:
1) Get your feelings out – talk, rant, cry - in fact do what you need to in private or with someone you trust. It’s always better to express than suppress!
2) Though, if you are one to offload, don’t take to social media because once it’s out there, it’s out there. Instead, take a deep breath and confide in a coach, close friend or someone in your circle of trust.
3) However, if you struggle to talk about how you feel, write down as much as you can about the situation. Writing can be very therapeutic and help you articulate what you can’t say openly. The process of quiet reflection and writing will allow you to get to the heart of the matter so that you see the situation more clearly.
4) When things go wrong, there’s a tendency to generalise and think that everything was a total disaster. Is there just a teeny weeny chance there might be a silver lining? Is there anything good about the situation? What can I learn here? Break the disappointment down into a sequence of smaller events to help you understand the bigger picture.
5) Put your problem in perspective – will the issue matter in one week, one month, one year from now?
6) What’s really gone (or going) on here? This is likely to be the most difficult part because at some point it is important to face the truth for your own peace of mind and to accept what has happened. Being honest and true to yourself can be tough at times and takes courage. Put your faith in a sympathetic friend, parent, coach or colleague to hear you out.
7) What’s the gap between what happened and what you wanted to happen? Explore the gap – it will help you see the situation from different angles and will reveal how you might need to change your approach next time.
8) Get comfy and take a long walk so you can unwind and reflect - let your mind wander wherever it wants to. Notice what you feel and think about your situation. What is this telling you? Were your expectations realistic? What can you do better next time? What was missing? What could have been avoided? Be curious, not cross by blaming circumstances or those around you.
9) Be grateful – it’s easy to forget what you have already when you’re feeling down and disappointed. Your health, a loving home, family and friends.
10) Finally, learn to love the problem - in this case disappointment - because when you learn to adopt a ‘love the problem’ mindset it puts you in a totally different place; one that is objective, accepting and ideas generating, allowing you to see the world through a different lens, which may even include the disappointment itself.
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About Karen Hayns
Karen has an MSc in Coaching & Behavioural Change from Henley Business School and works with a mix of business and private clients.
‘Whether we are working 1-2-1 or in a group, ultimately what we are doing is creating opportunities to learn about ourselves. For me, it's an art and a life-long discipline. What’s not to love about that’ she says.