Ways to Cope With Life's Disappointments
Trust your feelings
Feeling your feelings through
They say you never know how someone feels until you walk in their shoes. The shoe fit me a few days ago when I received very disappointing news about a goal I set out to achieve almost two years ago. I put my heart, soul and body into it. I visualized the results. I put the effort and the work. I received guidance, advice, mentorship and even a lot of devil's advocacy from people that, well, you know, like to give advice but never contribute to the solution. However, I kept on. I thrived on the thought of making it to the finish--and I did, but then, due to an in-house policy, they told me I was disqualified.
I was done. Disappointed.
What now? How do I deal with this? Where do I find the strength to cope with the disappointment? What's my next step? I put my all into this. I earned it. I deserved it. They gave it to me and then they took it away. Where did I go wrong?
Tears gave birth to anger who had twins--devastation and bitterness. They were mean little ones raging inside and outside of me. They all colonized in my soul and conspired to take me, and everyone in my way. But, just as the mind numbing emotions were blinding me I began to feel my feelings through, one-by-one, slowly, steadily--calmly. Suddenly, I began to rid myself of the negativity disappointment had deposited in me.
Emotions are instinctual. They are designed to assist us with all the twists, turns, happiness, and ugliness that life has to offer. It allows us to feel. It allows us to be human. However, it is a natural state of mind that derives from our current circumstances, moods or relationships with others.
Our way of thinking and even our belief systems are sometimes based on this emotional state of mind. Therefore, it is something you can control and cope with. This is what I told myself over and over.
"Feeling my feelings through" is how I cope. I allow myself to go through them regardless of how hard and painful it is during that time to face them. I catch myself instinctively, yet responsibly, dealing with them and adjusting. I allow myself the benefit of the doubt. But, most importantly, I do not deny myself the ability to let my feelings run its course so that the pain ends and the healing begins--catharsis.
How do I allow myself to feel? By allowing myself to feel sad, angry, upset, bitter, resentful--momentarily. Why? Because how can you get over your emotional state if you never truly FELT them through? Feeling those feelings forces you to acknowledge that this is NOT how you want to feel anymore.
Adjustments to your psyche happen at this point and a clearer mind emerges. Coping strategies vary and differ for everyone, but I want to share what continues to work for me and hopefully may help you.
Friends are invaluable
Call a trustworthy friend
As an only child, trustworthy friends are your support system. Real friends, like the one's in my life, do not even have to ask me when I am down or when I am happy--they just know. A valuable, long-standing and meaningful friendship is one of the major ways I cope with disappointment.
Real friends listen. Real friends talk you through it and support you either way. They were there at the beginning, during and in the aftermath. They are your number one cheerleaders and your most prized relationships.
During this time of disappointment I reached out to my friends and each and every one of them said "I'm here for you. Let me know what I can do, and I will be there!" True friends support you when you are up and catch you when you fall down.
Alter your thinking
During this emotional state of duress, the mind begins to think all sorts of beliefs; from disappointment to disbelief to even self-loathing. But, at some point, I turn it around. How? By what I call "mind shifting." Mind shifting is just that; an immediate adjustment to a whole other level of awareness in the present.
I shift my mind to happier, more positive moments, feelings and emotions. I usually end up thinking of something really funny like my co-worker calling out sick for being 63 and feeling achy to my son singing his rendition of Beyonce's song, single ladies, as he showers! Hysterical!
Shifting your mind allows it to rest momentarily from the stress and displeasure of the issue at hand while physically letting your body regain its composure.
Reflect on past achievements
In conjunction with mind shifting, I love to reflect on my past achievements and one of those being the most happiest moments of my life--having my son.
During my pregnancy, my focus was on staying healthy for my unborn child. I did everything I had to do for myself which would also result in a happy and healthy child. And I sure did! My entire pregnancy and labor experience was not only challenging, but rewarding and most especially worth it. I felt empowered and proud to have had the opportunity to achieve such a positive and rewarding experience--the gift that keeps on giving.
Not only do past achievements make you feel good, but you realize that you are capable of achieving your goals and that most of the time things do happen your way; that life has ups and downs and that as you accomplish your wishes, hopes and expectations there will also be some that you will not. As a result, you form more of an accepting feeling; which in turn results in positive feelings of having at least done your best.
Dust yourself off!
It is hard to just pick up and keep on going after you feel like you did everything in your power to achieve the goal. I was even told "You are an excellent candidate...but," It's always the "but" that gets you, huh? And it stung me. It stung me hard. It was an acidic and toxic feeling that ran through me for days. I really did not want to hear it. I did not even want to let it go. But, as I started healing and using my coping mechanisms, I started realizing that I can do it. I can dust myself off just as easy as I have in the past. Just as easy as I did, during the hardest, toughest and painful moments in my life. I felt like new life was being pumped into me as I looked around and said "Wait, I have so much more to do. This one hurt, but there's more to take care of...get up and try again!"
And as simple as that, the dust settled and I see again.
That much sweeter!
Today, I feel vindicated because after such disappointing news a few days back, just yesterday I was nominated to be the next Hubnuggeteer! Now, what a come back, 'eh? So, you see, disappointments today turn into pleasant surprises tomorrow.
Many years ago, my Mom noticed I was struggling through my sophomore year of college. She lovingly said to me ,"If you really want it, just keep thinking that in the end it will be that much sweeter! Don't quit." Mom, you are so right because I can taste and see it now!
Now, move on and let it go!
All in all, disappointments do make us feel displeased, sad and just down right blah, but with them comes newer expectations and fulfillment that are so worth it in the long run.
Happiness is still a pursuit of many--I hope it is for you as it is for me; and life is most definitely given to us to enjoy, thrive, achieve, and live alive. Regardless if you believe or do not believe in a higher power, rest assured that life is not meant to be wasted; that higher power would not waste their time.
Do not live life dead by holding on to one disappointment while endless dreams and aspirations, yet to be attained, pass you by out of fear that they too will hold the same fate.
Now, it's over, but you have just begun.
Let it go.
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