My son recently wrote to me about a conversation he had with one of his music students. Here's what he wrote,
"Today one of my 10 year old drum students came in wearing a knitted hat. He said he made it himself, and I replied 'Hey that's cool, how did you get into knitting?' He answered, 'my mom missed soccer registration.'"
Funny? Absolutely! But it's also impressive when a ten year old shows both resilience and creativity in the face of disappointment.
Disappointment takes its toll but it doesn't have to take everything. Yes, it can be quite painful but it doesn't have to be devastating. Of course, there are degrees of disappointment. Getting plain M&M's instead of the ones with peanuts may be disappointing but not as much as getting a rejection notice from the college of your dreams. But either way, you still have options, and good ones too. Snickers candy has both peanuts and chocolate plus caramel! You may have missed soccer signups but now you have this cool hat. (You see where this is going?)
Disappointment is really about unmet expectations. It's something we all deal with. Not having every expectation met is a fact of life that we learn early and manage in one way or another as long as we live. The most successful people have had their share of failures on the way to their great achievements. They have also learned how to respond to disappointing events. We all know about their celebrated achievements but the failures seldom receive as much publicity. Perhaps they should.
How do you respond when things don't turn out as expected? How could you respond? Have you ever had a disappointing loss turn out to be an unexpected opportunity? Since disappointment is a fact of life, I think it makes sense to learn how to anticipate it and develop some responses that will help see the unexpected opportunity more often and more quickly. My suggestion? SLOW down. Here's what I mean.
See the situation clearly. We often respond before we fully understand what has happened. Slow down and make sure you know what you're responding to.
Learn from the past but don't live there. I don't think we should forget the past. It's a part of who we are. Learn from it but don't live there. Let forgiveness, grace, and a measure of understanding lead you into a more hopeful future.
Open yourself to new possibilities. There are many ways to be ok. Allow yourself to be open to more than one way of being happy. When options are too narrow the chances for disappointment are greater. Expand your vision to where you can see more hopeful opportunities.
Walk forward when the time is right. Depending on the intensity of the disappointment and the impact it has on you, it may be wise to give yourself some time before moving forward. The ever-quotable C.S. Lewis offers good advice here. He wrote, "Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do."