The way you manage your disappointments can have big impact on your life. Here’s how you can learn to do it right.
We all struggle with our frequent mood changes and disappointments which are an inevitable and inescapable part of life. They can be from various reasons and arise as a result of specific events or situations. They have high influence on the way we react and in the actions we take. We all have expectations like winning at something or to succeed in something that we care deeply about and so on and so forth. Each time something falls short of our expectation, we tend to feel disappointed and this leads to our mood changes. Some of the disappointments may not make much of a difference, but there are some that can make huge difference. The feelings of disappointment may last for a short while, or might hang over for long period of time depending on how we deal with them. If not dealt with properly, they affect our behavioural, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.
With frequent mood changes and disappointments, we lose the ability to concentrate and may experience lapses in memory. Some experience irritability and prolonged period of disappointments may result in depression and sadness. Most of the times, our expectations lead to this complex and confused feeling. When faced with disappointment, some tend to attribute it to their personal failings and resort to self-blaming. They direct their anger inwards. This makes them feel they were not good enough. Others turn their anger outwardly which makes them feel bitter and vindictive.
Your mood changes can destroy your efforts
In order to avoid the feeling of disappointment, some distract themselves by turning to random, mindless activities instead of facing the problems head on. This may make them happy in short run, but does not resolve the actual problem and makes them underachievers. They tend to deny their goals by conditioning themselves not to set any expectations. This leads to self-depreciation and to a discontented life. Others seek to avoid by setting high expectations. They come under their presumptions that their expectations are realistic and when it turns out to be not true, it often leads to disappointment.
Getting caught up in your mood changes can cause feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. You avoid taking risks to prevent yourself or others from being disappointed. Focusing on your disappointments for long can destruct your efforts and have a negative impact on your confidence. When you are preoccupied by disappointment, you fail to put in the right effort. Instead if you treat them as learning experiences, they can become stepping stones for growth.
Know the reasons for your disappointments
You cannot snap out of your bad mood and feeling of disappointment quickly if you are not aware of what is causing them. Here are some reasons.
• The main reason for disappointment is the gap between the reality and your expectations. Having higher expectations can make you feel not being good enough.
• Feelings of guilt can lead to negative emotions and have a big impact on your mood.
• Rejections cause an emotional injury and thereby lead to your disappointments.
• Out standing tasks and mental to-do lists can nag at you and make feel discontented and disappointed.
• Brooding over past occurrences can get you stuck in replaying them over and over again.
• Feeling of failure and getting caught up on small annoyances can ruin your mood.
• Hanging on to false perceptions and negative beliefs like, “nothing works”, “not good enough”.
• Attachment to certain outcomes and too much fixation on your unrealistic goals.
We can deal with our disappointments constructively and more appropriately if we can differentiate between situations that fall within our control and factors that are beyond it.
Use your disappointments positively
You need not always get discouraged by your disappointments. If taken in positive way and dealt with constructively, they can strengthen you. Remember that your disappointments actually show your passion and can motivate you to succeed.
They help you manage your expectations
When we feel disappointed, our expectations fall out of line with the truth. By understanding the gap between your expectations and the reality, you can use them to correct your assumptions and adjust your expectations accordingly to achieve your goals.
They provide opportunity for growth. You can learn to deal with them in a positive manner and use them as opportunities to improve yourself. What you originally thought was sufficient to achieve your goal may not be enough and may need to increase your effort or change your approach to get the results you want.
They align you with your inner-self
Sometimes disappointments provide us with a better emotional state to get in touch with your inner self. By focusing on your underlying desire for your goal, rather than the external projection, you can create other possibilities to realise your desire.
Here are some strategies to get over disappointment and to deal with them constructively.
Put it in perspective
Often, small annoyances can become exaggerated and ruin your mood. You might feel disappointed about things you are unlikely to remember in a month’s time. If your disappointment is significant, try to focus on the larger picture and remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for. If not, it is not worth getting disappointed about.
Don’t dwell about what might have been
The more you dwell on the disappointment, the more it will hurt and disrupts your ability to focus, concentrate, solve or be creative. Give yourself a limited time to feel bad and move on. Do not internalise feelings of sadness and anger. Hanging on to these for long can make them part of your identity and deepen your emotional hurt.
Don’t be too self-critical and don’t get pulled down by your thoughts. Do not indulge in self-pity as it takes away feelings of empowerment. Look for positive activities and those that you most enjoy to recharge your consciousness to a positive level. This will help you gain some clarity and you can learn other perspectives which you may not be aware of.
Identify the next opportunity
There is always a next opportunity regardless of what disappointed you. Live in alignment with your abilities and inner desire. When you lose, use it to learn, and then go on to win next time.
Increase your possibilities
Do not limit yourself on a single goal and believe that it is the only way to make your dreams come true. There is always more than one reason why you are committed to a path. Increase your possibilities by creating other paths to realise your dreams.
Reevaluate your perceptions
Attaching yourself to a certain outcome causes anguish and prevents you from putting effort in moving on. Becoming aware of false perceptions or unrealistic expectations you are clinging on to and by releasing them, you can overcome disappointment and can move towards your goals.
Finally, Realign your focus
Don’t be discouraged by momentary disappointments.Everyone experiences disappointments. By being hard on yourself and thinking you are not good enough will not take you forward. Remember that you are much more capable at focusing on the positive than you think.
Next time, if you struggle to deal with your disappointments, try to reevaluate your expectations by asking yourself: what expectations do I have from my self?, what false perceptions am I getting hung up over?, could I have done something different to arrive at a desired outcome?. Reframe your disappointments as learning experiences. Cultivate a capacity to deal with them more constructively and start again to pursue your dreams.
“Life is not always a celebration; so be ready to courageously face disappointments when they come, and be sure to grow stronger and wiser from them.” – Edmond Mbiaka
Make an effort to think in the direction of simplicity
“with simple thinking, we can maximise our focus with minimum distractions.”
Many things influence our lives and decisions we make. The primary influences being the perceptions and most of the times, the mistakes of perception leads to our complex thinking. we get used to the complex processes, procedures and matters in our day-to-day tasks which in turn add to our complicated thinking. We acquire habits, possessions, relationships, needs, etc., which are part of richness and enjoyment of life — but also are the reason of the complexity of our thinking.
We get continually bullied by opportunities which seem to be attractive and get pressurised by them thereby making our lives more complex. Sometimes fear of boredom leads you into a complexity of temptations and pressures of ‘have to do things.’ This makes our thinking a complex process driving us to busyness, approval of others, anxiety, performance and control.
Some of this complexity is created by us and some we accept and take on as part of our daily lives. Having things to take care of, people to deal with or processes to attend to, our thoughts create clutter giving rise to complicated ideas and create confusion and disappointments. We get caught up in the day-to-day complex tasks we have to get done and often run out of time to do the things that really matter and those that are essential.
We get so comfortable things being familiar and certain way that we don’t want to find simpler way of doing things. Simplicity in thinking is something that is deliberate and intentional and should be a choice you make. By adopting to a ‘simple perspective’ in your thinking, you can free yourself from all the distractions and you can maximise your focus on that which is essential, can eliminate complexities, create effective solutions and can reach your objectives or goals much faster.
Simplicity makes it easier to do things. But finding a simpler way is usually not that simple.
The perspective of ‘simple thinking’
Complex is something which is hard to understand, explain, or deal with and leads to inefficiency, wastage of time, attention and mental energy in unnecessary things. But there is always a much simpler way of doing things. The perspective of ‘simple thinking’ and doing is always possible and is very important to improve efficiency and to reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. By identifying areas, matters and procedures which seem unnecessary and replacing them with simple processes, you can learn to take action much faster.
“When we begin pursuing a more simple, intentional life, we obtain a new perspective.”
Perspective of ‘simple thinking’ is a value, a habit and an attitude of mind as much as it is a process. You accept something complex because you are not looking for simple solutions and your outputs also tend to be complex. Simplicity will not happen unless you are prepared to work hard and make a real effort to achieve it. The emphasis needs to be on simple perspective at every moment of your decision-making process.
‘Is there a simpler way to do this?’
‘Is this really necessary?’
‘Does this add to simplicity or complexity?’
By having the intention of making something simple, you can prioritise your actions towards simple processes.
Ways to achieve a ‘simple perspective’
Many of us consider thinking as a complex process because we have never made any attempt to make it simpler. We tie ourselves up in complex rules when in reality, most of our practical thinking takes place in ‘simple perspective’ and is mostly based on self-organising system of brain. So, We can design simple tools for thinking to improve productivity in number of ways and for a more focused effort.
You need not always depend on major changes to make things simple. You can Make slight changes in small things to simplify your efforts of doing difficult things.
Here are some small changes that can be made to achieve ‘simple perspective’ in your efforts of achieving your tasks.
One thing at a time
We are capable of thinking many things at the same time. But if you find matters getting too complex, then it is always better to pay attention to only one thing at a time. It does not mean that you cannot do more than one thing at a time — but you choose not to for the moment.
Express in words
Complexity is difficult to cope with while it remains out of consciousness and you will find it difficult to arrive at decisions. When something seems complex and difficult, verbalise why you are making that choice, the reasons behind your decision. This can simplify and clarify your decision-making process.
Complexity arises when you are trying to deal with more than one matter at same time. If there are two separate issues, separate them out and deal with each one on its own. Analyse and break it down to deal with it one at a time.
Take small steps
If the task is complex, it can be broken down into tiny steps. Certain tasks may seem impossibly complex on the whole, but if broken down to small steps, each step can be simple and doable. It is simpler to focus on the next step than to focus on the entire task.
Concepts are a broad and general way of simplifying things. They simplify the action into stages. Making use of concepts in thinking can simplify your efforts. Once the concept is formed, the details of the concept will still need to be worked out but they set the direction of the action.
Think in stages
Always have a clear objective in mind and figure out how to reach the objective.
• The direction to reach your objective.
• The concepts that can be used in order to move in that direction.
• The ideas that can be used to put those concepts into action.
Thinking in this kind of framework helps you arrive at possible action alternatives to achieve your complex tasks.
Do things slowly
If your mind is minimally occupied, as in doing things slowly, it will be more able to have new ideas. This also helps the mind to clarify or simplify things and requires discipline and concentration.
Things which were needed at one time may be no longer needed. Shedding approach simply involves throwing things out and putting nothing in their place. Sometimes things are ‘unnecessary’ or ‘redundant’. If these things add to clarity they should be retained, but if they add to the complexity of the situation, they should be shredded and thrown out.
Clarity and simplicity go together. What is the situation? What do we really need to do? What is going on? Questions of this sort can clarify and provide thorough understanding of the situation or process. The perspective of simple thinking comes from thorough understanding.
As a self-organising information system, our brain allows incoming information to organise itself into routine patterns. Once we identify with these patterns, we flow along with them without much effort. Setting up routines can simplify your perception and action.
Be determined to seek simplicity.
When things are highly complicated we do often wish for simple perspective. But when things are not complicated we rarely strive to make something simple. Always find simpler ways of doing things. Make the ‘simple perspective’ as part of your normal thinking process to free up time, reduce stress and to make better decisions.
Put yourself in ‘simple perspective’
• Be determined to make an active effort to make things more simple.
• Be motivated and creative to arrive at a possible simple, effective and practical solution to a problem.
• Have the willingness to simplify process instead of coping with complexity.
• Look for simple alternatives and be willing to invest time and effort in that search.
• Spell out in words what you are seeking to achieve. This creates a path to move in defined direction thereby avoiding unnecessary.
• Design the ideal simple process and then seek to work incrementally step by step.
• Consider all the things you are busy with right now and consider how few of these are really necessary.
• Take notice of your habits and cut back on clutter, distractions and focus on the essentials.
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
Acceptance of present moment is the center of anything being done well.
“We need to focus on the present moment, the only one we can really live in, to be truly effective.”
Ability to manage our attention is an important determinant of our success. But we are continuously bombarded by external events in our daily life and experience various distractions and information overload all the time. Most of us never go beyond a narrow, personalised sense of self that is conditioned by past and an anticipated future which is far from present. As a result, our ability to pay attention at will comes under control by external factors and by our past conditioning. We constantly attach thoughts and feelings to external factors, events from past and imaginary future. Because of this, the world around and people in particular come to be perceived as threatening. We begin to judge and the need to compete and dominate arises. Our perceptions and interpretations change and we take actions based on anger, despair, fear and frustration. The actions thus taken generate an automated cycle of negative behaviour where we tend to react to everything automatically without any present moment awareness and attention.
Performing right actions comes down to making right choices and this requires the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Giving full attention to whatever the moment present is possible only through complete acceptance, because you cannot give your full attention to something at the same time resist it.
Importance of acceptance
Accepting yourself unconditionally fosters your efforts to attain your highest potential and encourages you to live up to the highest in you. The non-evaluative observation of ‘what is’ without distortion through mindful acceptance and attention allows you to break the automatic response to the external events by disrupting the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions. You can bring peace by connecting to your true self. This helps in promoting physical and emotional well-being by removing stress and inner conflict.
Acceptance means positive action
To some people, acceptance may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, lethargy and so on. They might think by always accepting the way things are, they are not going to make any efforts to improve them. True acceptance does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease initiating positive action. Accepting the present moment unconditionally is to let go inner resistance to ‘what is’. Inner resistance is to say ‘no’ to ‘what is’ through mental judgment and emotional negativity. Acceptance of what is does not mean that you cannot take action and change the situation. You don’t need to accept undesirable life situation, but just narrow your attention to the present moment without mentally labelling it in any way. Action with no resistance, no judgment, and no emotional negativity results in positive action and is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair or frustration.
If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only through acceptance that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates the situation. Acceptance is the starting point. Unless there is complete acceptance, we will never develop the willingness to change ourselves. This is true for every experience, addiction and weakness. Accepting your true self and of ‘what is’, you can begin to take action, initiate change or achieve goals.
Practice accepting ‘what is’
Focusing on the present moment through conscious acceptance allows you to improve your attention by breaking the automatic feeling-thought-action cycle. Acceptance allows you to take wiser decisions and enables you to cultivate a more balanced relationships. Here is how you can practice acceptance.
• Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action. Give attention to the ‘doing’ than the result that you want to achieve and in time you will be freed from what now seems impossible.
• Accumulation of past in your psyche reinforces false sense of ‘self’ by denying the present moment. You don’t need the past moment, refer to it only when it is relevant to present.
• Don’t be a ‘habitual waiter’, waiting to achieve your goals — with every kind of waiting, you reduce the present moment to a means to an end leading to non fulfilment and dissatisfaction. Strive to achieve your goals but don’t use them to substitute for the feeling of being, whole and complete.
• Watch your thoughts as well as your reactions in various situations. Notice how often your attention is in the past or future. Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future when they are not needed.
• Practice meditation to rediscover your unconditional self. Notice your breathing patterns and observe your thoughts and emotions. Accepting your situation through being mindful helps you gain focus and clarity about what triggers certain feelings and emotions.
• Practice focusing your attention in the present moment while eating, drinking, working and while communicating. This reduces stress and anxiety, as well as increases your emotional intelligence. Giving your complete attention to what you do results in empowered action.
• Avoid labelling every perception and experience. When you mentally name or label a situation in some way as undesirable or bad, you tend to personalise the resentment which in turn brings a reactive “me.” Break this habit by practicing “not naming.” Don’t name an experience as “bad” and instead bring an inner “yes” to it.
• When you are unhappy, stay totally with what is. Do not unconsciously designate your deficient sense of self through being ‘right’ and making something ‘wrong’. This leads to reactivity and creates conflict between your external circumstances at that moment. Instead of complaining about the circumstances, accept. This will allow you to make peace and you will be able to turn to present.
• Patiently work with your difficulties. Acceptance builds trust into the current situation and you can focus on underlying opportunities.
Notice how total are you in what you do or in your daily activities.
Watch how it feels like when you don’t want to be where you are — the traffic, work place, the people you are with, dealing with the countless things that make up your daily life — accept the ‘isness’ of the moments in your life. Whatever your life situation is,
practice completely accepting it as it is — where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing. This improves your full attention to the moment and your doing becomes more effective, fulfilling and joyful.
“Pause and remember— When you fight reality, you will lose every time. Once you accept the situation for what it truly is, not what you want it to be, you are then free to move forward.” — Jenni Young