Whether it’s the mess-up of New Year’s resolutions or an unexpected change in plans, maybe a relationship is changing, or the job did not come through, life is always changing – it’s how we handle it that matters most. Disappointment is not a destination; it’s just one part of the human journey. Here are 10 ways to bounce back faster, and reclaim your vibrancy, your hope, and your spark.
1. Accept that you feel disappointed – don’t try to sugar coat it. Sometimes, the hardest thing is to feel your feelings. The good news is that they aren’t permanent; they come and they go. Feel the feeling and watch it dissipate. You will be surprised at how disappointment can be a passing episode, not a way of walking through the world.
2. Realize the difference - you are disappointed (verb) about a situation or about the way you handled a situation. Both of these do not define you on an identity level. You are not “the disappointment.” You experienced a feeling of disappointment when a disappointing thing happened in your life. How you handle it now is up to you.
3. Resist the habit to beat yourself up if the picture is not as you would like. If you’re disappointed in something that was beyond your control (like a promotion), realize that it wasn’t in your hands. If you’re disappointed in yourself, know that guilt is when you realize you made a mistake, can recalibrate and try to make it better; shame makes you think you are the mistake – this is never the truth! Instead…
4. Be compassionate with yourself: When you consider, “Oh that was a hard situation, I did the best I could with what I knew,” you will bounce back faster. For example, If you broke a new year's resolution, it’s helpful to think of it as a streak that you were on for a few days or weeks AND simply start a new one. It’s the self-judgment that we attach to “breaking a resolution” that is worse than the actual situation. Every day is a new opportunity to grow.
5. Everything is learning: there’s an expression "life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you." Ask: what did I learn from this, what would I do differently next time, how has it made me stronger? And if this is a habit, don’t think of how I can break it, but what can I replace it with that would be more exciting, more fun, more fulfilling. Move towards what you want, not away from what you don’t. If you want to get fit, what is an activity that would not be torture to do, what would make you feel alive?
6. Reframe your expectations: you are bound to get disappointed when you stretch out of your comfort zone. Applaud yourself for being in the game, instead of sitting by the sidelines. You are embracing life. If your best friend was in the same situation, how would you coach them to get through it?
7. Gratitude is an antidote. This thing you’re disappointed about is only one part of life. Focus on and journal about what is working in other areas of your life, and what you did well that day. An easy way to get started is to take part in the "Make your next 10 Years Your Best 10 Years," which gives you a blueprint to seeing all the aspects of your life in a different way.
8. Ditch perfectionism: Life by definition is messy – it was designed that way, so we can grow. Do your best, iterate, you’ll get better. The growth mindset says, I haven’t mastered it YET. "Yet" is an important word, as it reminds you that you will get there - give yourself a chance. It's important to be satisfied with this moment, be present for it, be excited about the journey…
9. Re-inspire: mind, body, and soul: Re-inspire your mind with an uplifting film or book or whatever captures your imagination – this is all intentional; get into your body with exercise; connect with your soul through meditation. You are so much bigger than this situation.
10. Reach out to friends who can give you a better perspective on the whole situation. Get help to talk it out, so it doesn’t devolve into depression. Spend more time with your "go-team" and less time with blamers or dream crushers.
11. The Long Game: Life is not a sprint, it’s a journey – always anticipate what could come up along the way, and have a plan B. That way, you feel like you have options, and that you, not circumstances, are leading your life. I am not saying, temper your dreams, play small and safe so you won't be hurt. On the contrary, LIVE full out, and recognize that when you are learning and curious about life, the best is always yet to come.
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