Journeys And Destinations

virginia-sI don’t know about you, but one of the things that can bring me down and upset my life balance is disappointment.  Simply put, disappointment can happen as the result of two things:

Something happens that you didn’t want to happen, and something you wanted to happen, but didn’t.

Now, as a life coach, I am a big believer in the “it’s not about the journey, but about the destination” concept.  Most of the time, focusing on the present moment, detaching from outcomes and being open to many different outcomes works great.  But sometimes, we just really want a particular thing and if it doesn’t work out, well, it just hurts!  Of course when something hurts us, we need to take care of ourselves and take the time we need to heal and experience the personal growth and development that often comes from these kinds of challenging life lessons.

Aside from that process, there are some things that we can do to help us move forward. There are things that could motivate us, try again or try something new, reduce stress, increase confidence and allow us to have some self- compassion.  These are things that I have found to be helpful in making sure I allow the hurt to pass through me, rather than get stuck inside of me and bring me down any further than necessary:

  1. ACCEPTANCE: When something disappointing happens, a common automatic reaction is to resist what is happening. When something happens to us that doesn’t feel good, we drop our jaw to the floor and gasp “NO!” Ignoring, denying, pretending events are different, wishing reality to be other than exactly as they are—is unproductive; it doesn’t allow us to move forward on the issue. Hence, it keeps us stuck behind the obstacle that is on our path. To cope effectively with disappointment and restore life balance, we must accept it first. This does NOT mean we roll over and let something bad happens if we have the power to do something about it. It also doesn’t mean we have to pretend it’s not bothering us when it is. What it does mean is that we can’t do anything about a situation that we refuse to accept it is even real; make sense?  The sooner we can come to find acceptance, the sooner we can take effective action that allows us to work THROUGH the problem rather than get stuck inside of it.  Acceptance is an empowering foundation to stand upon when facing any obstacle.
  2. KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE: Sometimes when “bad” things happen, it’s easy to go back and recall other bad things that have happened to us in the past. We can get into a position where we convince ourselves that “life sucks” or that this is “just our lot in life.” This is called “catastrophizing.” No doubt, we all have negative experiences in life. But what we may fail to notice is that so many good things happen as well; it’s just that those things sometimes go unnoticed as a part of our daily experience. This is why it’s always a great idea to keep a gratitude list.  Psychological research suggests that an attitude of gratitude can increase happiness by 25%.  You can have one ongoing list that you refer too often or do a daily gratitude list of 3-5 things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. No matter how bad something may seem, there is always something in life to be grateful, after all.
  3. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY: When something disappointing happens, don’t view it as an unfortunate event external to you. Neither internalize it and make it mean something about you and the person you know yourself to be. Don’t consider disappointment as something negative about you. Don’t convince yourself that you are a failure, or that you’re not good enough, or ask yourself why this kind of thing always happens to you. Do you tell yourself that you should have done something differently to avoid the issue and feel guilt or shame about actions you did or didn’t take? We all make mistakes, and that doesn’t make us bad or defective in any way. It makes us human!  Show yourself compassion and do your best to learn from your mistakes and then move forward by committing not to make the same mistakes again. I believe that in every circumstance, there is an opportunity for personal development and growth.  It is up to us to decide what we take away from each situation and whether we let it elevate us or tear us down. Sometimes “bad things happen” and the choice to move forward or get trapped by self-defeating beliefs is yours and yours alone. It can be an effective stress management tool if you do not take these bad things personally, and by doing so, they will allow you to build confidence and restore your sense of emotional wellness more quickly.

By Virginia Lundy