We all get disappointed sometimes.  And mostly we follow a pretty simple process of feeling tremendously upset, thinking about it way too much, then finding some way to comfort ourselves and then moving on.  With the help of some friends, some carb-heavy comfort food (or herb tea or martinis or double-chocolate
fudge crunch ice cream
or whatever your narcotic of choice may be…) and perhaps a period of true unbridled wallowing, we get over it.

Mostly.

But some disappointments linger.  Some become a permanent part of our internal landscape.  Some even feel as though they have become part of our identity, and we almost can’t imagine letting them go, even though they cause us so much pain.

Here’s the good news: you’re reading this.

That tells me that you:

  1. Actually WANT to get over it
  2. Can at least sort of imagine that you COULD get over it
Welcome to Bouncing Back from Disappointment: Three Strategies to Really Get Over It. 

I hope we’re going to make some good progress
here – I can’t guarantee anything, but I have seen people make some miraculous shifts in very brief amounts of time, so I
wouldn’t rule anything out.  Now, it’s not possible to “unthink” something, and you can’t not feel the way you feel
about something.  There’s no magic pill.

But you can
unscrew the bolts a little bit on the ideas that are keeping the experience both fixed and
painful.

(One possible exception:  Grief.  My
experience is that other kinds of pain and disappointment can shift and move
but grief – even old grief – just sweeps up on you and feels for all the world like it just happened this morning.  So I want you to be working on a specific
frustration or disappointment or failure here, and I want you to pick one, but
if it’s a Grief, then maybe, just for the purposes of today, pick another, less
knotty one.)

Everybody have one particular disappointment in mind?  Good.

Maybe it’s just a little one: I over salted the
turkey meatloaf the other night and I’m a little disappointed in myself.

Or a medium one: I’m still so bummed I
never finished college, or that we got outbid on that house.

Or a big one: I got fired.

Or a really big one: I still can’t
believe he or she had that affair.


Now, let’s get a
reading here:

On a scale of 1-5, how disappointed are you about your
thing? 

1 = Actually, I’m mostly
over it

2 = Still stings a bit

3 = This causes me some pain when I think about it

4 = Ouch! Ouch!  Ouch!!!!!!!

5 = I almost can’t imagine EVER being over this

Are you at a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?  Whatever it is, just guesstimate and write
down the number.

It’s important that you be honest with yourself about your level of disappointment.

Sometimes we can get caught up in Enforced Optimism (“Oh, it’s all good…”) or Depressive Diminishment (“It’s no big deal”) and I don’t want that.  I want you to haul the monsters out from under the bed and look them in the eye.  Be straight with yourself.  There’s no sense pretending that you feel all yippee-skippy when you don’t, and there’s no sense hanging on to a disappointment from which, you discover, you are really mostly already recovered.


STEP ONE: We Are Not Amused (but maybe we could be…)

So the first thing I want you
to do is give this event a new, more disastrous name.  Really exaggerate.  Unleash your Inner Drama Queen.  Go for it.  Write it down.

“I blew the presentation,” could be
re-named “I’m Headed For The Poorhouse For Sure!!!”

“I fell off my diet,” becomes “I Am
The Walrus, Koo Koo Ka Choo”

“I didn’t finish my novel,” becomes “I Will Never Be A Real Writer Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever”

Got it?
Be melodramatic.  Make yourself laugh.

 
(
It’s great if you can do this with a trusted friend who can laugh with you.)

How does it feel to give it this extreme name?  What do you notice?  What shifts?

Next, I want you to write down a really minimizing name for your event.  Brush it off.  Spin it like a crooked politician. Or imagine you have an eccentric great-aunt who hears about your disappointment and just waves it away with a word.  What does she call it?

“Nobody’s buying my product,” becomes “Well, This Has Been Some Fascinating Market Research…”

“I’ll never get another date,” becomes “Oh, Pish Posh, Silly Old Dating, Who Cares?”  

“I’m chronically disorganized,” becomes “I Am So Creative With Where I Put Things!”

Again, write them down and notice how each one feels.  (Don’t worry – you can always go back to the same way you’ve always felt.  No pressure.)

We’re
just experimenting with perspectives here, so you don’t need to actually believe your new names for this event, but you do need to acknowledge that there may be some alternatives to the lonely, empty feeling you’ve allowed the memory of this event to trigger in you.

If you like this Step, then keep going:

– What would your dearest, best friend call this event?

– What would your Guardian Angel call it?

– What would a poet call it?

– What would a late-night infomercial spokesperson call it?

– What would a gypsy fortune-teller call it?

Experimenting with different names can remind you that when it comes to your own life, you are in a position of choice. 

You get to decide what you think about it.  

And that can move you from feeling like a disappointed victim to feeling like the confident, empowered, creative genius that you truly are.

NOTE: I’m curious – what names did you come up with?  Please comment because I’d love to hear them!

Coming soon: Step Two!