DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.  Martin Luther King Jr

What a wonderful feeling to achieve your dream goal! It doesn’t matter if you are two or eighty two, achieving something—anything—is just magic! When we achieving our goal—no matter how big or small—we can feel just as elated as Katie Taylor or Cian O’Connor at the London Olympics but we have all felt like Fionnuala Britton and Annalise Murphy too.

Disappointment is a complex uncomfortable feeling that hovers at the front of your mind and niggles at the back like a fly in our bedroom at night—it just can’t be ignored. As Team GB collected their medals like squirrels before the winter chill Team Ireland faced disappointment after disappointment. Who will forget the agonizing expression on the face of Kieran Behan, momentarily forgetting how he overcame impossible odds to realise his gymnastics dream. After a traumatic brain injury, what a majour achievement it was to compete at London ’12 in the first place but disappointed athletes like Behan, Cragg and Irvine, among others, can be an inspiration to us all because they believe they will come back stronger. They are holding on to infinite hope.

Every single one of us faces challenges at various times. How you deal with these disappointments will determine how you succeed in the future. The next time you face a disappointment, pay attention to how you react. Do you get mad or sulk? Blame yourself or other people? Do you immediately think you are the most unlucky person in the planet? These kinds of reactions will only keep you stuck in self pity.

As human beings, we are not always willing to accept disappointment. To accept that disappointment is a part of life is a lifelong challenge and fundamental to dealing with disappointment. I will be disappointed, I will disappoint, you will be disappointed, and you will disappoint. Life will be disappointing—but it will pass if you learn to ride the wave of disappointment.

Allow yourself to feel.

Whatever you are feeling is OK. Take some time to just sit with your emotion and experience it without moving to fix or change it. As the saying goes if it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger. Don’t shy away from these moments. Be present in them.

 View life with a wide angle lens.

Try not to look on disappointments as punishment or to keep you down. Disappointment can often put things into perspective and remind us of what really matters. The initial disappointment may actually turn out to be a gift or you may end up getting something much better.

 Know your own heart.

Disappointment can ripple through to the core of who you are. If you don’t know what your core values are, you may not have a framework to support you when you experience negative emotions. The challenge of disappointment allows us to practice living closer to our values.

Accept things just as they are.

At the heart of adjustment lies acceptance. As soon as you accept your reality you remove a lot of stress and will enable you to become resourceful and positive again.

Disappointment is a part of life, but all parts of life can help us grow. We can be present and aware even in the midst of negative emotions and therefore live life more fully.

I came here to give it everything and I put in everything I had. So, I’m not disappointed, no. I did what I could. Aileen Morrison. Triathlete.

 

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