Dealing with Disappointment

Disappointment sucks, right?

Wouldn’t it be great to never be disappointed? Well, I guess it would be great. But maybe not. Maybe a life with no disappointment would be boring. Maybe without the lows, the highs would be nothing special.

How do you deal with disappointment? Do you focus on what disappointed you? Do you learn from the disappointment and then move on? Do you not even think about it and move on? Do you get dragged down or energized by disappointment? Some people use the experience to fuel them, to challenge them, to drive them to future success. For others, disappointment brings them down, whether they make that conscious choice or not.

All of these questions rushed through my head recently as I had to deal with a disappointment. Do I allow myself to get bogged down in the negative feelings, or brush them aside and move on? If I moved on too quickly, maybe I’d miss out on a learning experience. But if I focused on it too long, that wouldn’t help either. What to do?

I ended up reflecting on a few times in the past when something similar happened and realized that every time that I can recall, the disappointment led to something better. A major disappointment in a work situation led to a much better career – one that I would not have had if I had been satisfied with where I was. My disappointment with the performance of my race car, for instance, led me to proactively look for another opportunity with a different team.

The key in each of these situations was to realize that the disappointing situation was not going to last forever. It was temporary and one that I could choose my attitude about. I could focus on the disappointment and be miserable or I could choose to focus on the opportunity that could come from it.

Choice is an amazing thing and it’s something that we always have. At least we have the choice how we’re going to react to a situation. No one can force us to behave a certain way, to react a certain way, or to have a certain attitude. That’s our choice.

I’ve chosen to look at a disappointing situation, learn what I can from it, remind myself that most every other disappointment in my life turned into a positive experience, and then focus on what’s next. Of course, that’s just my strategy; it’s not for everyone.

How about you? What’s your strategy for dealing with disappointment?

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