Sunday, March 11, 2012

Head + Heart = Moving on from disappointment

Another week has gone by that you will never get back.  If you had to evaluate your work, your interactions with people, and your overall happiness and satisfaction with your life would you say that you are doing well?   As for me, I’ve had somewhat of a disappointing week.  There are times when I feel like I’m failing in every aspect of my life.  It’s incredibly disheartening and frustrating—causing a weird mix of agitation but unwillingness to do anything about the situation. 

When you’re down on your back looking up at the world, it’s easy to react emotionally.  Disappointment is after all, intensely emotional.  However in order to get back on your feet, you really need to effectively incorporate both your thoughts and emotions. 

Those messy things called emotions:
·         The first thing to do when encountering disappointment is acknowledge how you are feeling.  Once you’ve stopped ignoring the problem or denying how you feel, you can begin the painful but necessary process of progressing towards a healthier outlook. 
·         You may be angry at yourself, others, or at the cruel universe.  Realize that in every situation you bear at least partial responsibility for the way things have turned out.  Once you’ve accepted that truth, move on to forgiving yourself and others.  None of this will be easy, but having awareness and attempting to move through these steps is better than doing nothing to address your heart. 
·         Resolve to focus on the things you can influence and letting go of things that are outside your sphere of control.  Remember, the only person you can really change in the world is the one looking back at you from the mirror. 

Those confusing things called thoughts:
·         Look for the potholes, falling rocks, cyclists.  When you’re driving a car on a winding mountain road it would be foolish to ignore all the things that can cause you to lose control.  In life, these obstacles are not often clear.  Using your past experiences, try to recall if there were any events or factors which drove you off your preferred course.  Is there a particular person you can’t stand?  Are you unbearably cranky when tired and hungry?  What can you do to either avoid or minimize the effect of those land mines?  If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail again as you hit those same obstacles. 
·         Likewise, it is important to develop or recognize guard rails in your life.  What are the warning signs you can implement or use to signal when it’s time to modify your trajectory?  Biometric monitoring (heart rate, temperature, etc.) is being used to help those in stressful situations recognize the warning signs of distress.  Your guard rails can be as simple as that feeling you get in your stomach, or the sweat you get on your palms.   The important thing is recognizing your early warning signs and either modifying your environment or your reactions.  We’ve heard countless stories of individuals who reacted extraordinarily in difficult circumstances.  I want to encourage you to be intentional rather than reactional. 
·         Deal with your discouragement.  Everyone likes to think that their situation is unique but there really isn’t anything new under the sun in terms of human experience.  If you think it’s helpful, identify mentors or learn from those who can help you get through your experience.  Talking to someone else can help you see things outside of your perspective
·         Suck it up.  In the end you have to decide whether you are going to do something about your situation or not.  Are you the type of person who gets easily discouraged?  If so, realize that if you can’t find a solution to your problem, you really aren’t desperate enough.  Count the cost.  Decide if you would rather live with the pain of regret or the pain of the process.  

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