Dealing with Disappointment

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Life doesn’t always turn out the way that we would like it to. There are bumps in the road, surprises, shocks, and disappointments. It doesn’t matter how much progress we think we have made in life already; stuff still happens. How do we deal with the challenges that appear in our lives? The first thing that we must do is to accept that what has just cropped up has done so for a reason. If our first thought is instead to insist that what happened has no right to be there, then we will miss the opportunity to make something positive out of it. Worse than that if we attempt to just shove it away, all it will do is push right back at us, exacerbating an already challenging situation. Once you accept the reality of something you are empowering yourself to transform it.

The term that “Life is a Journey” tends to be a little over used these days. Maybe that’s because it does carry an element of truth within it. We can all feel like that we have purpose, goals, objectives, things that we want to experience, and activities that we want to do. This is true, but what life is actually about is the summation of these experiences. The integration of them into a larger whole. Focus on the person that you want to become as you traverse through the experience of life, not the things or experiences themselves. Life is not about what happens to us, instead it is what we do with what happens to us. Thus, the destination of life really is the journey.

Before I came across NLP I used this formula to look at events in my life when things weren’t going to plan. I would ask myself – 

  • Am I making enough effort, am I working hard enough? If not, work harder.
  • Do I think that I am following the right process? If not, what is the right process? Find out and follow that.
  • If I honestly thought that I was working hard enough and if I seemed to be following the right process, then I would consider that maybe this wasn’t the right path for me after all.

Before I became a trainer of NLP I was working as an accountant. My experience over the last few years of doing so was that the companies I was working for were in worse and worse financial straits. Was I working hard enough? Yes. Was I doing my role the way that it should be done? Yes. Therefore, in the end I decided that this wasn’t the path for me any longer.  

Another strategy that I employ today is that when something untoward happens in my life I realise that I may not have seen the whole unfolding of the events connected with this yet. Therefore, if I stay in a reasonable emotional state (as best I can), maybe what seems like a challenge may turn out to have happened for a very positive reason. There was a guy who came on a training, years ago. He was involved in a car accident. No one was seriously injured. But this challenge was how he met his future partner. She was the one who crashed into him. 

One of the underlying beliefs within NLP is that there is no failure, only feedback. What this is asking us to do is to regard events in our lives that do not seem to have worked out well, as an opportunity to learn something. This learning may be about ourselves, other people or the world in general. But the learning needs to be positive and self-empowering. This belief is asking us to initially treat whatever happens to us in a neutral way, devoid of negative judgement. 

What this also highlights for me is that no experience we ever have comes with a built-in meaning. We only ever know what events in our lives mean by comparing them to things that we have previously experienced or things that we imagine we could experience. This also highlights the idea that it is us who gets to choose what events in our lives mean. Find the courage to face disappointment with an open and curious mind. Ask yourself, “What could this mean? How can I use this in a positive way?” 

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

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