Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Manage Your Disappointments With These 6 Tips

Danica and Dakota are Disappointed and Mad

Disappointment often turns to frustration, frustration to resentment, resentment to anger, anger to rage, rage to indifference; never allow your disappointments to get to indifference. ~ Unknown

Have you ever been disappointed? If you're human, then my guess is that you have. It doesn't feel good, does it?

In today's article, I want to talk about a time where I was seriously disappointed and what I did as a result. My hope is that I will be able to share my feelings, reactions, and offer some ideas on how to deal with it when it happens to you. 

While I won't go into detail about the actual event, I will tell you that when it happened to me, I felt it very strongly. In fact, my disappointment ran side-by-side with anger. 

I recall the last event happening over the telephone where I learned of some very disheartening news. It definitely was not how I envisioned it would have happened. At first, I felt the sadness set in. My voice got quiet as I tried to respond to the caller. I could feel my body shrinking in the chair as the defeated feeling took over. I wanted to run and hide, but I also wanted the other party to know how I felt.  

In my mind, the issue could not be resolved. At best, all I could do was receive a replacement or an alternative solution, but it wasn't enough to take away the pain I was feeling. If I couldn't have what I wanted, I didn't want anything. Yeah, reading those words, it seems a bit childish, huh? In that moment, I felt raw emotion and I guess I resorted back to a younger version of myself.

Once I got off the phone, the dissatisfaction turned into anger. I wanted other people to feel my pain and know the depth of my frustration. No matter what I did, I could not change the news. All I could do was accept it.

Unfortunately, I didn't want to accept it. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it, but that fact alone would do absolutely nothing to remedy my emotional sensitivity. In turn, I started pointing my virtual fingers at everyone else. "They did this to me!" I argued strongly. As a result, I wanted to hurt them back. I really felt a long list of passive aggressive thoughts run through my mind. "Oh, I'll never let them hurt me again! This will be the LAST time that ever happens to me." I forcibly stressed while pacing around my living room floor. 

Thinking back to how I felt, I imagine those thoughts are normal. When we feel pain, we find the source of our problem and blame them for hurting us. Then, having that established, we seek to resolve our pain by avoiding it any further. "You are the source of my pain? Good, you'll never get another chance to hurt me again." We say convincingly while folding our arms in front of us.

Now that I've had the time to calm down and let my rational brain (versus my primal brain) take control again, I am able to safely revisit the incident and share some lessons in the process. In the following section, I share a few tips on how to handle disappointment when it comes again. 

Embrace the Feeling

The next time you are faced with a strong emotion like disappointment or anger, I would recommend that you allow yourself to feel it completely. If you're mad, sad, hurt, or disappointed, seek to understand how it's affecting you. What physical sensations are you experiencing? Where is it located on or in your body? What do you feel like doing as a result? 

By understanding how you feel and the effect is has on your body, you are better able to manage it in the future.

Get It Out Of You

Once I understand what's going on with me, I then want to get it out. For me, this is aided by writing or journaling. For some, talking with a friend, relative, or another trusted resource helps to alleviate the overwhelming emotions that are flowing through us.

Decide How You Will Respond 

In the moment when I was experiencing the most pain, I decided to initially detach from the world. Instead of taking it out on others, which is what I wanted to do, I decided to deal with it in the safety of my home. I knew, even while I was still feeling the residual effects of the event, that I didn't want to do or say the wrong thing. The only way that I could maintain control was by removing myself from the equation. Even a day later, I was still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.

Change the Emotional State  

Once I let the strong sensations run free, it's time to bring them back under control. I believe these strong emotions are tied to our primal brains where we lose the ability to think rationally and just act. In my case, it felt like the fight-or-flight response. 

Knowing that I don't want to do or say something that I would regret later, I excused myself and dealt with it on my own. Once I was ready to come out of that state, I started looking for ways to think happy thoughts. For me, it comes by watching comedians do stand-up, talking to excitable people, or increasing my physical activity. While it may take a few minutes, I'm able to forget my previous mood and adopt a much lighter state of being.

Figure Out the Lesson

By now, you should feel better. This could take a few hours or even a few days depending on how long you wallow in that space. My suggestion is that you don't let negative thoughts marinate for extended periods of time. Consider embracing the feeling just enough to capture and understand the emotional state that you're in.

After you've calmed down and let cooler heads prevail, take a moment to replay the events. What could you have done differently? What lessons will you take from this situation? What will you do next time a similar event arises? 

Whatever the lesson, make sure to capture it and game plan your response for the future.

Close the Loop

To help with the healing process, make sure to find closure. For me, this means going back to the offenders and talking it out. By now, you should be able to take ownership for your feelings and actions. Consider walking through your experience and be open about how it made you feel. Please understand that this is not a time to blame others. During this time, simply express how you felt and share your conclusions. Convey in a level-headed way what you plan to do differently next time, if appropriate.

By taking this step, parties can reconnect and strengthen relationships or at the very least set a plan for how everyone will proceed moving forward.

Additional Thoughts

While the previous steps are helpful in navigating disappointment, I would like to share a few miscellaneous thoughts.

Trouble Don't Last Always

Despite what you may be feeling at the time, know that it won't always be that way. Eventually, you will get over it. Yes, it feels intense, but remind yourself that it will be over soon. If you have to repeat that to yourself a couple of times just to remain in control, please do.

Seek To Understand

One of the things to consider when you're closing the loop on a situation is to try and understand the other party. Was it intentional? Many times, we tell ourselves that the offenders did something on purpose or we create a story that may not be true. Before you make your final decision on future actions, seek to understand what was going on in the other party's world. The truth could change everything, even your approach.

Stay In Control

No matter how you feel, stay in control. Remember, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. This means that you and you alone have the ability to temper your feelings and actions. While it may be easy to let go of your responsibilities and allow our primal brains to take over, know that you have the power to choose. It's OK to take a break or timeout. While the other party may not like it, express to them that you need some time alone to figure things out. Let them know that you will be back to discuss it at a later time. 

When you get done thinking, make sure you go back and close the loop.

It Will Happen Again

Despite our best effort to avoid it, we will be disappointed again. Knowing this fact means that we can be prepared to manage our strong emotions and have a game plan for how we choose to act both during and after the incident. 

Not only will you be disappointed, but you will also find yourself on the other side of the coin. When this happens, remember what it felt like and consider responding in a way that is sensitive to their feelings.

Share It!

As we bring this article to a close, I hope that you got something of value. If you did, please share it online or via email with someone who you think would benefit from it.

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Until next time...


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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