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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

What Is The Best Way To Deal With Disappointment?

As the A level results were released in August, some students were disappointed to learn that they hadn’t achieved the grades they had been predicted. In some cases, this meant that they couldn’t attend the university of their choice, and they may have even altered their chosen path in life completely. Disappointment on this scale is a hard lesson to learn at a young age, and even for older people, bouncing back from setbacks can be a difficult challenge. However, it happens to us all at some stage, whether in our careers or personal lives. Maybe you were turned down for a promotion, or a promising new relationship fizzled out.

Learning how to manage disappointment well is a valuable skill, and our grit and resilience in difficult times often contributes to our eventual success in life. In fact, learning from the situation and moving on can be much more valuable than all the qualifications, contacts, and talent which we think we need. We all have an inner voice that can be overly critical, and if unchallenged, it can drag us down into a negative spiral which is difficult to break out of. The mind can have a natural tendency to dwell on the past, rather than look outwards to the future, trapping us in endless unhelpful ruminations. Disappointment can be a complex emotion, and sometimes it takes a bit more unpacking than a brisk pep talk from well-meaning family and friends. It is derived from the primary human emotion of sadness, and we shouldn’t underestimate how powerful this can be. Typical approaches to overcoming setbacks often involve using language such as ‘bouncing back’ or ‘building resilience.’ However, this may result in us in trying to dismiss our overwhelming feelings of sadness. This can leave us vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and our self-confidence and motivation takes a nose dive. The emotions you feel may also manifest in other ways, such as anger and aggression. To avoid such a situation developing, avoid sitting still and letting your emotions fester. If you need an outlet for your sadness or anger, try and channel it into something constructive, such as exercise, or a creative activity such as writing or painting. Once you have let out those negative emotions, it is helpful to take an objective look at your circumstances. Try and review the situation as a compassionate but neutral outsider would. This can often help us put things in perspective, making us look at our mistakes without harsh judgement, and realising how we can make improvements for the future. Many people find that this type of self-acceptance is aided by learning some mindfulness

meditation techniques. These encourage you to focus on the present moment, and centre yourself and your emotions with controlled breathing. With practice, you will learn how to focus on the ‘now’, rather than look backwards or worry about the future. These techniques do take some practice to really get the best from them. You may find it helpful to work with a trained practitioner. If you are interested in finding out more about mindfulness therapy in London, please get in touch today.

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