What do we do and how do we recover from disappointment?
I think disappointment recovery, or resilience as I think of it, is a skill. It’s like a muscle that you can strengthen, even if yours is really weak.
What do I mean by resilience? It’s the ability to recover, to return to emotional balance, after something upsetting has happened.
If someone cuts you off on your way to work, are you still talking about it at lunch? At dinner? The next day. OK. Hopefully, you’re not still talking about it the next day, but do you even want to carry it with you until lunch?
Then there are more serious disappointments or distressing events. A car accident, getting fired or being laid off. Having someone close to you get sick. Canceling vacation because of a hurricane or family emergency.
Life is full of disappointment. While I’m not advocating a by-pass of your feelings, I am saying there is a difference between the feelings triggered by an event and recovering to a normal state of emotional balance.
Think of a spectrum this way, something happens to me this morning and I’m angry. Nothing wrong with being angry. No emotion is wrong. I’m angry. If I carry that anger with me till lunch, someone at work may ask what’s wrong and comment that I’m in a bad mood. If I come to work tomorrow and I’m still cranky and angry, you could say I’ve had a bad couple of days. If I’m cranky and angry a week later, now I’m forming a personality. It’s just a feeling that doesn’t get processed and let go of.
When we are resilient, we feel our feelings and then go to our tool box of how to restore our energetic and emotional state back to balance. Think of emotions/feelings as energy in motion. They need to go somewhere. They are meant to be in motion. If we bottle them up, hold onto them, or hold them in, they can’t move. They are, quite literally, stuck.
How can you get out of being stuck in our emotions?
There are many ways and each of us needs to find what works best for us, but I’ll give you some good things to try.
Spend enough time with yourself to know how you are feeling and be specific. I love teaching emotional intelligence and often refer to the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. In the book there is a list of emotions. They report that only 36% of people can identify how they feel as they feel it. If we can identify how we feel, we tend to pick on of the easy ones, happy, sad, mad or glad. I encourage you to go deeper. Bradbury and Greaves list approximately 20 different emotions in the sad category. The same with angry, even happy. Knowing where you are on the spectrum of a feeling can help process it. Information is often power.
Journal about how you feel. Journaling can help you figure out how you feel if you’re struggling with number one. There’s something magical about the act of writing it down. I do this the old-fashioned way with paper and pen. I suppose a computer could work, but only if you get the cathartic release that you get writing something by hand, by typing into your computer. It’s a freaking miracle how many times I sit down with my journal, confused or emotionally stirred up and the simple act of writing it out gives me clarity or processes the emotion in a way that I’ve recovered to balance by the time I’m done. It’s really a miraculous tool. Try it if you haven’t. Give it a chance if you aren’t sure.
Get your body in motion. Emotions are energy in motion and getting your body in motion will often facilitate them moving along. It really is like a river that has gotten dammed up by rocks, so the water is stuck. It’s pooling and may even start attracting mosquitoes and algae. Moving your body is the equivalent of moving the rocks so the water can go on it’s merry way.
Always be compassionate and loving to yourself. Even if it’s three days later and you’re still pissed about that guy who cut you off on your way to work…. something else is going on. That experience has triggered something that you haven’t been paying attention to. Treat yourself the way you would a wounded or frightened child or animal. Be kind. Be gentle. Ask easy questions. Provide a comforting atmosphere. Drink water. Wrap up in a blanket. Give yourself the time and ask, “What is this feeling really about? What have I been ignoring that it wants me to see?”
Everything that happens to us, every disappointment, everything we feel, is ultimately there FOR our good. To support us in expressing the highest version of ourselves that is possible, in that moment. If we’re rushing about or yelling at ourselves, literally or figuratively, we’re not able to learn. We aren’t receptive to the lesson.
Give yourself a big hug, love on yourself and be with yourself. The answers will come.
I’d love to hear what helps you when you’ve been disappointed. Have you tried the tools I’ve suggested or do you have great ones of your own that work? Let us know in the comments below.
Taking care of ourselves, learning how to recover from life’s disappointments and return to balance is living lavishly!