Have you ever been disappointed? Yes, I am aware this sounds like a rhetorical question. Everyone experiences disappointment, and experiences it often. How do you handle disappointment? Disappointments unchecked can run through our lives and create havoc and chaos if left unchecked. How do you handle and respond to the disappointments that come your way? I have nine steps that I follow:
- Is it as bad as it seems at first? Yes, some things are very bad. Disappointments come in all flavors and sizes. In my life after I settle down and regain my composure, I have to confess that many of life’s disappointments are not as bad as they seemed at first. They come in a wide array of options: relational, financial, personal, professional, health, just to name a few. Take a breath and step back and start here: Is this as bad as it seemed when I first experienced this present disappointment?
- Put it in perspective. Is it life or death? Will the world come to an end because this has happened? Is this even the worst thing I have ever experienced? Often, the answer is no! After some of the emotion has drained away from the situation, gain perspective.
- Remember disappointments happen to everyone! You are not being picked upon. Disappointments are a part of life, they visit the rich and poor and everyone in every nation and socio-economic level. This is likewise a perspective tool, but one I use to remind me that heartache is a universal problem.
- What I can I learn from this experience? I have learned that in all experiences and situations one should ask this important question. Life is a learning laboratory. Do not waste one tear, one moment of irritation without seeking to learn a lesson, make no mistake there is a lesson to be learned in all experiences. Look for it, find it, and apply it and incorporate it into your life.
- Take positive action. Do not give in to the feelings of negativity and striking back. Let some of the emotion subside and make up your mind that you will take positive action. Do not focus and wallow in negativity. What is something positive that can be gained from this experience? then immediately apply it in your life.
- Change a habit. What if anything did I do to bring this situation on? Is there a habit of mine that needs to be broken and replaced with a positive habit? Did I contribute in any way, and if so, what can I change in my life? Not only change but create a new and better habit. This does not apply in every disappointment, but sometimes this is a helpful exercise to go through when evaluating a disappointment.
- Learn to laugh. This cannot be done immediately. It will take a little time. Laughing is one of the better ways in which to handle disappointments. I have recently gone through a major disappointment. Early in the process, a good friend said: “Ron one day we will go and eat a hamburger and laugh at all of this..” I have to confess I did not find the comment funny or helpful at that moment but I am almost to the place where though not ready for the hamburger, I am almost ready for the laugh. Do not take yourself so seriously.
- What is the takeaway? This is a lot like what did I learn but slightly different. The takeaway is something I have learned that I can share with others when they are going through a hard time, as well as a principle that I can apply in similar situations.
- Continually make adjustments. Most of do not want to consider this last step, but it contains an important question: What did I do to contribute to this situation? What are the things I can do to improve and correct in my life? Introspection is a lost art. All leaders can improve. I need to improve and so do you! Disappointments are often tools used to make us better more sensitive leaders.
Know that you are loved and appreciated! I am sorry for whatever disappointment you may be going through today. God bless you and you will make it through! You are going to make it!