Sorry to Disappoint You

This week, amidst some significant wins and progress on both the business and personal front there was something else, and that something is called The Elements That Are Outside of My Control.

A check I had been counting on never came because somebody was on vacation, and no other money showed up to replace that amount, which led to a cascading effect of other things that couldn’t get paid and various people who were disappointed, including my own kids who didn’t get to do something they had really been looking forward to.

When this happened it made me remember that life can be going along swimmingly and then – KAPOW – something happens that just knocks you right off of your center. Something disappointing. Unexpected. Unpleasant. And what happens? Well, for many of us, no matter how much personal growth and self-improvement we’ve managed to work on, it often means that we go right back to old habits of self-blame, of beating ourselves up and feeling inadequate, weak and insecure.

We might know intellectually that true happiness originates from within, but when we are affected by external factors we frequently forget that and revert back into a self-protective fetal position – at least proverbially. It’s easy enough to do and it feels kind of good to revel in how bad you feel and how unfair everything is – at least for the first minute or two, but then something happens and you begin to sense that staying too long in this place of self-pity and self-abuse is not beneficial and in fact might be downright dangerous.

Instead, try taking asking these questions when life hands you some lemons…

  1. What are you truly grateful for? You can’t go wrong when you’re focusing on what you’re grateful for, and this is a sure-fire way to start to feel better immediately. Even when things are looking dire there is always, always something to be grateful for.
  2. What’s the lesson here? Most of the things we suffer over are those things that don’t matter one single bit in another week, month or year. Although the pain is usually temporary the lessons tend to be longer lasting. What do you think this situation is trying to teach you?
  3. Who can you help? Even when life is tough there is someone else who is worse off than you are. It feels good to offer a helping hand. Who can you give support to in some way, even if you yourself are not feeling very strong?
  4. What can you celebrate? It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong in life and to totally miss acknowledging the small wins, the things that are going right, but taking the time to remember and give a nod to the good can make you feel better, and it can also help to shift your focus into a more productive place.
  5. What can I do differently next time? Even when there are things that are outside of your control there is often some part that you played in the creation of the situation. If this is the case, own the responsibility and take steps to act differently next time around.

From time to time all of us are going to stumble and fall, but if we remember to not allow ourselves to fall into “panic” mode and to follow the steps above to help shift the energy we’ll quickly be able to step back into a place of productivity and growth. The most important thing is to remember to pause, take a deep breath, then go through those five steps and in no time your big disappointment will turn into a distant memory – or maybe even a funny story. It’s all a matter of time and perspective.

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