Disappointment is a normal aspect of life, and it doesn't discriminate. Whether you're rich, poor, educated, uneducated, young, old, or somewhere in the middle, disappointment happens and it knows no bounds. I've had clients from the upper echelons of society talk to me with great disappointment about the multimillion-dollar business deal that got away, and I've had teenagers heartbroken over the girl or boy that got away.
Perhaps you didn't get the promotion you were banking on, or maybe you missed out on that sale-priced piece of furniture you were considering buying. Whatever the case, a sense of loss, disappointment, and defeat is the result. Without such emotion we wouldn't be able to truly savor the taste of victory or bask in the glow of accomplishment and success when it happens. In many ways, it keeps us real, true, and humble -- and can also keep us motivated.
Here's how to rise above the agony of defeat and keep moving forward:
- Give yourself a break. So often, self blame is the reason people can't accept an outcome and move on. They obsess and ruminate over what they did or didn't do that may have resulted in the negative result. Accept the notion that what is done is truly done and beating yourself up over things will not help you to move on.
- Step back and gain some perspective. It's easy to stay mired in disappointment given that the emotion is so palpable. Try to step back by imagining the events playing out on a movie screen. Viewing it as a spectator rather than as a participant will help soften the blow and ease the raw emotion as there's some distance created between you and the event.
- Don't personalize it. Rather than thinking it is something you did or didn't do, consider alternative explanations. For example, if you didn't land that raise you were hoping for, consider that there may be a reason that has nothing to do with you. Maybe there are budget restrictions, for instance.
- Don't define yourself by it. Just because a girl declined your invitation for a date, doesn't mean you're a reject or undateable. It means you're a person who goes after what you want, even when the outcome isn't certain, and you can't be everyone's type. Another example, let's say you didn't do well in a race, it doesn't mean you're a bad runner. It means you didn't have your best race day, that's all.
- Be a problem solver. See any disappointment as an opportunity to evaluate your approach. What can you learn from the situation? How can you approach it next time to ensure a better outcome? Sometimes small changes in strategy can make a big difference in outcome.
- Think about your strengths. So often in the face of disappointment people have the tendency to dwell on what they perceive as their weaknesses. Instead, think about what you're good at. What skills have yet to be tapped that might help pull you through next time?
- Surround yourself with positive people. Who can you turn to in a time of need? Think about people in your life who are encouraging and make you feel good. Reach out to them and not the naysayers.