THE BLOG
03/05/2014 05:20 pm ET Updated May 05, 2014

Coping With Disappointment: The Rule of Sevens

My teenage son has had a crush on a girl for sometime and, while driving him to school the other day, I nudged him once again to ask that girl out. He very much wanted to ask her out, but was afraid of being rejected and ruining the friendship. I encouraged him to "just do it" and he kept telling me that the time is not right yet.

Next time when I brought the topic up again, he told me quietly that he did ask the girl out a couple days ago, but the girl politely declined. I turned around and looked at him. He maintained a smile, yet looked a little sad. I asked him if he was OK. He told me that he was very disappointed initially, but he was certainly much better.

He told me about a rule he has.

He has a rule of sevens to overcome sadness: seven hours, seven days and seven weeks. He allows himself to get sad or angry for a certain period of time. For him, it can be seven hours, seven days or seven weeks. When the time is up, he tells himself that he needs to move on and stops dwelling on situations that he can no longer change.

He uses this technique to get over losing matches at tennis too, which he plays competitively.

I was intrigued that he actually sets time aside to "mourn." I asked him what he did during that time. He shrugged and said that he listens to sad music, plays warfare video games or simply goes for a run! A parent once told me that playing warfare video games could be a form of modern mourning. I finally understand what he was talking about.

I asked him how long it took to get over the rejection. He said: "Oh, seven hours. I listened to my 'sad music' play list and spent several hours gaming. You asked me 'what's wrong?' a couple days ago and I told you I didn't want to talk about it. That is why."

"How do you feel now?" I asked again as I stopped the car near the school entrance. "Mom, I am fine now. She moved on already. Why should I continue to feel sad?" he answered with a smile.

"What's the longest time you have felt sad? And why have you chosen sevens?" I asked.

"The longest time I have ever felt sad is seven days, but I don't remember what happened. Oh, Seven is my lucky number." He picked up his backpack, waved good-bye and walked into the school.

As a mother, I secretly hope that his heart will never be broken to such an extent that it would take him seven months or seven years to recover. At the same time, I've realized that I learned something from him today. I love the idea of allocating a fixed time to mourn and lick our wounds in our own personal ways.

Do you have your own rule of sevens? How do you overcome your sadness and despair?

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