Most of us are processing some level of disappointment right now. It could be as simple as fun outings cancelled or as significant as life altering changes like job layoffs. When we mapped out our plans for 2020, none of us planned for the interruption that is COVID-19.
Some people are very quick to discount this disappointment by saying it’s really inappropriate to complain when nurses and doctors are on the front lines risking their lives or families are grieving the loss of loved ones to this virus. But that’s not usually helpful. Not only does that feedback not take away the disappointment, but it adds guilt on top of it. So now you feel guilt for being disappointed, which just takes you lower.
So what is actually helpful when facing disappointment?
First, acknowledge it. If we don’t feel our emotions, we store them. We suppress them. This is not healthy for our bodies or minds. Admit that you are feeling disappointed and fully feel the emotion.
Second, react in a way that helps you release it. For many people that is crying. If you need to cry, cry. Maybe you need to let it out through a run or some other exertion of energy. Find something helpful to you.
Third, create a Plan B. Once we can accept that Plan A was never going to happen we can move on. It only existed in our minds. It was just a thought we created and attached emotions to. We can make new thoughts. And create new stories around them.
This is the magic sauce. These thoughts and stories are where we can take full ownership of our situation. If our cancelled plans have left us sitting on the couch, then we can decide what story we attach to that new experience. You have facts and then you have thoughts and emotions you attach to the facts.
Fact: I am sitting on my couch on the evening I was supposed to __________.
I’m so lazy, I really shouldn’t sit here and watch TV. I should be doing something more productive. [Guilt]
I’m so angry. They have robbed me. These rules are stupid. [Victim-mentality]
I’m so grateful I have a home to be safe in with electricity and entertainment. [Gratitude]
I’m so lonely. I guess I’m not worthy of anyone’s love. [Shame]
I wonder if there’s something I could be learning about? I heard there’s a bunch of free courses from Ivy league schools. I didn’t want to be stuck on my couch, but maybe I can find something interesting to learn. [Curiosity]
I bet I’m not the only one stuck on my couch tonight. I’m going to text some friends until I find someone else sitting around. Maybe we can Facetime and have a wine night in our pajamas and catch up. [Connection]
Do I know anyone who is probably lonely right now? Who can call/text and check in on? [Service]
(And my personal favorite that I choose the most) This sucks. This was not what I intended. What would make me feel good right now? This doesn’t feel good so how can make myself feel better? A long, hot bath. Yes. [Restoration]
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. When you read through those statements, did you feel the emotions? There are countless other responses.
As we continue to navigate through disappointment, my hope is that we will respond in a way that serves us and makes the best of what we are facing. My prayer is that we will choose to be kind to ourselves and to others.
P.S. To watch a video about the Stronger Mindset with me and Tom Ziglar, click here.
P.P.S. As a Choose to Win coach I help people fill the gap to get from where they are to where they want to be. To download a free assessment to help you see which area of your life may be holding you back, scroll to the bottom of this page.