We all have disappointments. Some are big and some are small, but we don’t want to let them ruin our day, throw us off track of out bigger goals, or spend too much time dwelling on them.
I’m sure if you have tried to get over a disappointment, you may have tried the usual tactics of distracting yourself, counting your blessings, or simply putting it out of your mind. But if those things don’t work, you might like some new ideas, especially if you find yourself in a rut or unable to move beyond the disappointment.
4 Simple Steps
Figure out how to avoid the same disappointment in the future.
Whatever it was that was a disappointment to you, don’t assume you know all the facts that led to it. Gather information, ask questions, and try to understand the situation better. For instance, if a potential business client decided to hire a competitor instead of you, find out why. Without trying to change his mind, ask him the main reasons for his decision and what you might have done differently to win his business.
Also, examine your own actions and see if you contributed in any way. Sometimes it’s easier to accept a disappointment if you can pinpoint exactly where you went wrong. It puts you in the driver’s seat to know exactly how to avoid the same disappointment in the future.
In my job as a legal recruiter, I was recently working on with a client to place a paralegal in a new position. I was practically obsessive with preparing my candidate and I did everything I could do make sure my client would offer her a position and she would accept – or so I thought. Very late in the process (at the very last step before an offer would be extended), there was a breakdown, and the whole thing fell apart. What a huge disappointment! But when I found out the details of the breakdown, I saw exactly where I failed to take an important step. Instead of beating myself up for it, I realized immediately that this was a huge learning experience and a lesson I wouldn’t forget. It didn’t take me long to get over the disappointment and move forward with finding another candidate for my client because I knew exactly what I needed to do to avoid that problem in the future
Stop Going Over The Details
That’s right, in Step One I said to go over the details, and now I’m saying to stop! The thing is, once you get your best understanding of the situation, that’s all you can do. It’s okay if you want to talk about it once to someone who will sympathize or if you feel the need to vent – once. But then after that, stop repeating your story, and stop going over it in your head.
This is important even if you can’t get a good understanding of what happened. Sometimes there is no logical explanation to something that happened, and there might not even be a way to avoid it in the future.
We’ve all known someone in a new romantic relationship who thinks it’s going great, and then just like that – it’s over. Why? Who knows. Maybe there’s no explanation. Or maybe there are a million reasons. But if you can’t get a good read on what happened, and the other person isn’t forthcoming, let it go. Some things just can’t be explained, and going over every detail of the relationship in your head over and over again still won’t provide you with any answers.
Don’t make the situation worse once you have done your best to understand it, and don’t let it suffocate you.
Get Completely Engrossed In Something Fun
After you’ve done your best to understand the disappointment and you have put a stop to going over it in your head, think of something fun you can do for a short time that will completely absorb your time and energy for a bit. My suggestion? Plan a surprise for someone!
The thing about planning a surprise is that you have to be secretive about it, and you really have to pay attention to details, so the person you’re surprising doesn’t find out.
If you plan a simple surprise, it won’t take up too much of your time, it will completely distract you for a brief period, and you will lift your own spirits with the excitement of lifting someone else’s.
Go online and hunt for the perfect surprise bouquet to send to your mom, plan a surprise picnic lunch for your spouse in the middle of the work week, or even plan a surprise scavenger hunt for your kids!
Take It In Stride
When you suffer a disappointment in life, remember that it is NOT about you. A failure to get a promotion does not mean you’re a failure, it just means you have room to improve. If your brother lets you down, your friend forgets your birthday, or your child tells you a lie – that’s more about the things going on in their lives, and not about you.
Rather than thinking the disappointment highlights your own shortcoming, think about not letting it define you. Here are a few examples of people who didn’t let disappointments define them:
- Albert Einstein failed his first college entrance exam.
- John Canfield, author of the famous Chicken Soup For The Soul series, was rejected by 123 publishers before it was accepted for publication.
- Before he was Indian aJones, Harrison Ford was fired by Columbia Pictures and told he would never make it as an actor.
Remember success isn’t built only on previous success. It is also built by learning from past disappointments. Learn from them, put them behind you, and then use them as a step toward your next big goal!