This weekend I watched my sister perform in the musical “Into the Woods.” And she did a great job, by the way! In the story, the woods is where the action happens – challenges, lessons, temptation, and loss.
I work with a lot of students who are in the woods. They are struggling with a challenge or disappointment and trying to navigate their way through it. Almost daily I find myself reminding students and parents that there are many paths to success.
Disappointment can come in many forms – low grades, loss of employment, ending of a relationship. We don’t always get the life we planned – and even when we do, it’s not always the way we expected it to be.
Here are 5 strategies for dealing with disappointment:
1. Don’t take it personally. This is not to say it doesn’t hurt. Rejection, criticism, and disappointment can be painful. It’s ok to be sad, upset, or angry. But don’t let your ego get you stuck there. Our ego tells us everything is personal, but many of life’s disappointments are not about us but rather about the way someone else sees the world.
2. Try again. The way you respond to rejection is a choice you make about who you want to be. You may be steps away from victory, but if you give up now you will never know. Let your disappointment fuel your creativity and drive. Focus on your strengths and look for opportunities to take another chance.
3. Be flexible.Disappointment is the result of reality not meeting our expectations. When we allow our expectations to be flexible, we create more possible acceptable outcomes. Look for another path that may lead in the same direction. Think of rejection as redirection.
4. Remember you are not alone. If you have been rejected, you are in good company. Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, and Marilyn Monroe were no strangers to rejection. If you aren’t getting rejected, you aren’t taking enough risks.
5. Have an awesome backup plan. We don’t always have control over getting what we want in life – having a baby, getting a job, meeting someone special – but there are still plenty of great options that are within our control. If plan A doesn’t work out, what is something awesome you can do that is within your control? Invest your time, money, and energy into yourself – plan a vacation, pamper yourself, or pick up a new hobby.
Image by Nicolas Raymond