05/18/2015 04:33 pm ET Updated May 18, 2016

Overcoming Disappointment

We've all had that time when we're holding onto a dream. We know what we want and can picture its perfection. But then... disappointment. We aren't chosen for the project; we don't get the job; we get overlooked. In short, we can't find our way to that for which we are searching. Our hearts are broken.

At that point, all rational thoughts are thrown out the window. Yes, we need time to grieve the loss, but was the loss real? As in, did we really lose something we had had at some point?

I don't think so. It was a loss of the dream. Once again, it's the stories that get us.

Mindfulness taught me this. When there's an upset or hurt feeling, is it because of something that is happening at that time, right then? Or is it a reminder from a past event, or an upset over something we had imagined the future would bring? So often, the stories we tell ourselves are so much worse than life's reality. They just fall short of the Nirvana we had been expecting.

And what's with those stories? What kind of stories do we tell ourselves?

Stories that are filled with negative self-talk.
There's always a catastrophe.
We exaggerate the negative.
We're busy imagining what others are saying or thinking.
Blame is placed on others, even if it's not their fault.

Our brains keep chattering away at us about anything and everything, and they're not telling us anything positive that will motivate or encourage us. It's time for those stories to stop.

Just like a puppy that needs to be trained, our minds have gotten into a very bad habit. They've been allowed to roam without boundaries, telling us one negative story after the next.

While training our brains to stop the negative narratives is a simple thing to do, that does not mean it is an easy thing to do. In fact, it takes time and a commitment to follow through.

  • First, unplug from technology a couple of times a day, at least for 5-10 minutes. This will give your brain a time out, a rest, from the constant noise and never-ending input.
  • Take a walk, or at least go outside where you can breathe the fresh air, feel the sun or a breeze on your face, and appreciate nature for a bit.
  • Practice some mindful breathing. Take 3 deep breaths and exhale each one of them slowly. Continue paying attention to your breath for the next 5-10 minutes, noticing the air as it enters and exits your body.
  • Practice some mindful listening. Silently, list each sound you hear. Don't get caught up in any words from conversations or songs, just name things: music playing, person talking, person laughing, door closing.

You'd be amazed at the difference doing just these few things will do for you. To make a difference in your life you needn't make giant alterations in your everyday schedule. But making small changes to the things you do each day can certainly make a giant difference in your life.

Try it. I think you'll be surprised. And relieved!

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