Disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes. From losing the support of loved one to not receiving a job offer to being dropped from the team to coming in second place. Let's face it, sometime in your life someone or something has let you down. You felt defeated and how you recover is just at significant as the setback itself. Here are six steps to overcoming disappointment:
1. Acknowledge the disappointment -- This may seem completely obvious, but too often people will put on a brave face with others and minimize what occurred. This is not the time to rationalize or blame yourself. Simply state on paper or to yourself exactly what happened. Go ahead and be direct.
2. Give yourself permission to vent -- While this won't change the event, getting support from others can provide comfort. You're feeling isolated and sharing can help. Gaining a sympathetic ear can provide relief and break up the tension.
3. Put a timer on your story -- This may seem like it is a contradiction to number two; however, keep in mind that extensive dwelling on it can be disruptive. Venting is helpful, but be cautious that you are not setting yourself up for an extended pity party. Repeating your situation non-stop will drain you of precious energy. And you need this energy to prepare for your next step. Look this as a bank account -- oversharing is like an overdraft. You are the one who is going to end up in the negative.
4. Open yourself up to new possibilities -- The toughest part when dealing with a disappointment is that you remain so focused on the past that it tends to constrict your vision. Looking through a lens of yesterday will not allow you to see all that is possible. In other words, you have such a tight grip on the past that you can't open yourself up to what awaits. Over focusing on what you think should have happened will limit your future outcomes. Some people find mediation soothing and a way to awaken the part of oneself that contains unlimited possibilities. Others find comfort in exercise, yoga, prayer. It is often while doing something that is healthy, like taking a walk, that one thinks of a new perspective or a new idea that creates the stage for a comeback.
5. Ask yourself important questions -- This is the time to take an honest inventory of your status. Ask yourself, "What can I learn? What is valuable about this process? What can I improve upon? How can I cope better? What do I really desire? Was I pursing this goal for myself or someone else?"
6. Practice gratitude -- Creating a list of what did go right will help you see things in a fresh perspective. Perhaps you are thankful for your friend who treated you to dinner after a bad day. Maybe you are grateful that you were able to walk gracefully out of a meeting without saying a harsh word. This will also help to put things into perspective.
Setbacks are a natural consequence of taking a risk. You won't hit a home run every time, but putting yourself out there and becoming vulnerable makes you ahead of the person who does nothing. Remember it is how you handle disappointment that will determine your present situation.
Kristin Meekhof is a licensed Master's Level Social Worker. She is the author of the forthcoming book, A Widow's Guide To Healing: Gentle Support And Advice for the First Five Years. She can be found at kristinmeekhof.com