How to deal with disappointment

945 reads

His team was behind one run in the ninth inning, the bases were loaded with two out, and the leading hitter on the team was coming to bat.  The crowd sat on the edge of its seat as he swung two bats in the on-deck circle, picked up the rosin bag, dropped it, straightened his helmet, knocked the dirt from his spikes, wiped his brow, raised the bat over his shoulder and wiggled it, pounded it on the plate, dug his spikes in, reached forward - and then watched the pitcher pick the runner off third base.

We all deal with disappointment in different ways.  Some pout, a few get angry and others go into denial.

Repressing your feelings is a recipe for disaster.  Ignoring things or holding them in only makes you feel worse.  And it often magnifies the issue so that you cannot deal with it reasonably.  

Getting angry isn't any better.  Remember, anger is just one letter short of danger.  You risk taking your anger out on someone who doesn't deserve it, making things worse.

Pouting - feeling sorry for yourself - is probably the most common response.  But it's not the best way to deal with the situation.  When you dwell on the negative aspects of a disappointing situation, you are blinded to the opportunities that could be staring you in the face.

Leadership consultant Kevin Eikenberry explains:  "We can become much better leaders and professionals if we can get past our internal language and live in the present moment.  The present offers us opportunities to learn, opportunities to teach, opportunities to reinforce positive behaviors in others, opportunities to see our world in new ways, and opportunities to enjoy our day more fully.

"Staying in pouting mode closes the door to all of these opportunities because we don't see them - we are too busy thinking about ourselves."

How will you possibly reach your potential if you are busy fretting about the past?  Allow me to share a little secret:  Life is full of disappointments, but it's also full of opportunity.

The first step to getting over a letdown is to let your feelings out - appropriately.  Talk to a trusted friend or write in a journal.  Resist the temptation to lash out at the offender or your co-workers.  Be extremely careful what you post on social media, because as you already know, the post will outlast the problem and potentially follow you indefinitely.  

Next, put your worries in perspective.  Was this just a blip on the radar or a life-and-death situation?  Did you lose out on a promotion or lose your entire career?  Was this more of a fender-bender or 50-car pile-up?  Ask yourself:  Will this matter a year from now . . . a month from now . . . two days from now?  Few disappointments will have the kind of lasting impact that are worth allowing to fester.  Carrying a grudge is a very heavy burden.

Then stop and think about the things that are going right for you.  As my mother used to say, "There is always something to be grateful for."  Focus on positive thinking and see if your attitude doesn't improve dramatically.  

Step back and analyze the outcome.  What did you learn from your disappointment?  Would it have mattered if you had handled the situation differently?  And perhaps the hardest question to ask yourself:  Did I set myself up to fail?  There is an important lesson in every disappointment.  You can learn a lot from some self-examination. 

Finally, don't give up.  Many people have surmounted enormous odds to overcome significant disappointments and have risen to the top.  No matter what your life goals are, you owe it to yourself to jump over the hurdle and get back in the race.  You might have to change your plans, you might adjust your thinking, you might take a different direction.  But you will be open to surprising opportunities if you keep hope alive.   

Over my lifetime in business, I've had plenty of disappointments.  It would have been easier to throw in the towel on several different occasions.  But I could not imagine what would happen to me if I let problems dictate my future.  I am in charge of my fate, not some outside influences.  

You may not be able to prevent disappointment, but you can control your response to it.   

Mackay's Moral:  Disappointment might knock you down, but don't let it knock you out. 

Trending

173
jackcanfield's picture

Try This Simple Night Meditation Called “The Evening Review”

Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps that will get them closer to the fulfillment of their
79
adamgrant's picture

The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams

You want teams that are cognitively diverse and psychologically safe. A variety of thinking styles—coupled with the freedom to take risks without being punished—enables groups to generate, test, and implement creative ideas.Imagine you are a fly on
102
changethis's picture

Making ‘Agile’ Business as Usual

“There is more to Agility than putting lipstick on a pig. Organizations that attempt to migrate to Agile approaches need to take accountability for their 'inner pig.' Any sector can espouse Agile practices, such as SCRUMS, Sprints, and Stand-ups.
103
danielhpink's picture

Things: The secrets of high standards and happiness

1. WHAT TO READ: Can you teach high standards? Each year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — whose current personal net worth exceeds the GDP of nearly 150 nations — writes a letter to shareholders. Most corporate missives are snoozers, but Bezos’s is
145
mashable's picture

Google just slashed the price on its massive storage plans with Google One upgrade

Google's storage plans are getting cheaper. The company has launched a new storage plan called Google One, which offers significantly better deals than Google Drive storage plans. There's no need to switch, because all current Drive storage
403
changethis's picture

Start Imagining a Future of Human + Machine

“In the first wave of transformation, businesses standardized processes. Think Henry Ford and the assembly line, where steps in the overall process were broken down, measured, and optimized to achieve gains in efficiency. The second wave of
148
davecrenshaw's picture

How far would you go for a friend?

I recently witnessed an act of compassion and friendship so unexpected, it moved me to tears. And it happened in a very unlikely place: Pelican Bay super-maximum security prison. I support a program called Defy Ventures, an organization that works
151
johnsullivan's picture

Here We Go Again – LinkedIn Updates Its User Agreement

There are times in my life when I hate that I am right about something. Like the time I thought an employee was stealing from my store back in the day and two days later I caught them doing just...
280
changethis's picture

How Women Rise: Helping Women Change the Behaviors that Get in Their Way

“It’s not surprising that many of the behaviors that hold men and women back would be different. After all, women often have very different experiences at work. And experience shapes habits and responses.Familiar habits and responses may feel