How to Bounce Back From Disappointment

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We are moving along, living our life and then BAM! Something bad happens. It takes the wind out of our sails and we become discouraged. A tough day, week or year can destroy our motivation and send us into a slump. How do we bounce back and get back on track?

Something happened to me 3 years ago that knocked the breath out of me…. a divorce. To say that it was a disappointment is an understatement. I felt like Humpty Dumpty and I had to use every tool in the book to put my life back together. It didn’t happen overnight, however, it did happen. It is possible to make a comeback after a breakdown. Let’s look at how to do it.

Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest. While some recover quickly, others mire in frustration and blame. Slow recovery following a disappointment can lead to loss of motivation and even depression. If you are someone who recovers slowly, don’t worry, there is hope. With the right tools and support, you can become a person who gets knocked down and comes back even stronger!

Disappointment is the reflection of your passion towards something, be it a certain goal, dream, desire or outcome. Wherever there is a cause, there will be an effect. In my case the love was the cause and the disappointment was the effect. If you don’t care about something, you wouldn’t feel disappointed, would you? The very presence of disappointment suggests that you care about something so much that you feel bad over it. The higher your disappointment, the stronger your passion for this is.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” This deep love is what drives you towards your goals, dreams and desires. This deep love will be what fuels you in life, bringing you to places you have never been before. This deep love is what makes life worth living. Remember that disappointment is always a better emotional state than apathy or indifference. I would much rather feels a negative emotion than feel absolutely nothing. The ability to feel is what sets us apart from non-living beings. To feel nothing is to be a machine. And who wants that?

When things don’t go your way, it’s not the actual event, but your interpretation that causes pain. What happened happened, and it means nothing about you. When my marriage fell apart, my self-esteem was low for a while. What happened was a divorce. I made it mean that I was not desirable enough, not good enough. My interpretation caused me more pain than the actual event.

So, if our interpretation causes the pain, then why not create a positive interpretation? One that inspires you? Soon after my divorce, I made a decision to reframe the situation into something that made me feel good about myself. I memorized the sentence and said it to myself over and over until I actually believed it. This is what I said… “We were meant to be together for a time to learn, grow and to have 2 incredible children. Our time is now complete. I am ready to create the next chapter in my life…the best is yet to come!”

Disappointment also signals an opportunity for progress and growth. When we can take responsibility for our part in the breakdown, we gain power, grow and come out stronger. When we blame, we are victims and feel powerless.

As MLK once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Stay in the game, your best success will come after your greatest disappointment. I stayed in the game and now I have an incredible relationship and a fabulous life. One door closed then 50 windows opened.

In a 2004 article, the journal Psychology Today recommended handling disappointment through concrete steps including accepting that setbacks are a normal part of life, setting realistic goals, planning subsequent moves, thinking about positive role models, seeking support and tackling tasks by stages rather than focusing on the big picture. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Take it day by day.

Whenever you are disappointed, it means you have certain illusions about reality that you need to address. Sometimes we live on autopilot and do not see or want to see what is truly not working in our life. We ignore it hoping it will just go away. We hide our head in the sand like an ostrich. But it doesn’t go away and soon blows up in our face. Think of disappointment as a troubleshooting tool which helps you iron out the kinks in your perception of reality. Being present to what is real in your life allows you to make changes, grow and create the life you want.

Disappointment can be seen as an obstacle or an opportunity. Choose wisely and you will be unstoppable.

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