Like Alanis Morisette’s hit song, “Ironic” puts it:
“It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take…”
Life can be quite ironic, and things often don’t work out the way we planned. It can be a weekend you looked forward to for a month that got cancelled at the last minute or a dream job that went to another candidate with less experience. Life sometimes is unfair and it sucks big time. It can be even worse when you are bearing the consequences of someone else’s actions or when you are being forced to pay a price because of something out of your control. I have had a couple of those happen to me in my lifetime and it’s possibly the hardest to deal with. When you get what you didn’t deserve. When your well-weaved plans and months of hard work get derailed because of someone else.
Few things can ruin your mood quite like major disappointment and getting to the other side can be intolerably hard. It asks for strength, emotional resilience and focus and it is definitely not emotions or actions that feel possible at the time.
There are various actions one can take according to this Harvard Business Review, to more effectively deal with disappointment – like managing your expectations, seeing it as a learning experience and understanding your own coping style. In the end it is about finding your own way forward and putting one foot in front of the other.
No two people react to disappointment in quite the same way, and if the stakes are high, it can be doubly devastating when things are not going according to plan. For me, the most important is to remember that you are human and to experience the emotions that come with disappointment, but do be gentle with yourself and try to get to the other side sooner rather than later. What we experience and how that affects our mood is controlled by what happens in our heads, so why not start there?
A helicopter view
If you could adopt a wider view, a bigger picture, or considering the situation in the bigger scheme of things, can you change the outcome? Will there be another opportunity? Does it perhaps only require a bit more time?
A timeline view
Consider your life as a timeline from birth. Where are you now? Will this still be important in 5 years time or can you try again? Can you find a different route to the same destination? Life can change in an instant. All things pass, this will too and when you are down, well – the only way is up. Hang in there.
A personal worth view
Was there a lesson around self-worth, self-love or self-respect that you had to learn? I know it could sound peculiar, but most of us have ourselves at the bottom of our list of priorities. If you were not valued or recognised as a person, perhaps you are exactly where you are supposed to be. On a different, better road for you!
Sometimes, in hindsight we are grateful for the things we wanted so badly at one point but was denied. I can think of a couple of examples from my own experience. Life sometimes may save us from ourselves. This might have been one of those moments for you. Could be quite “ironic, don’t you think?”
Alanis’s song as quoted above ends with a lesson too:
“And, yeah, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out”
Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and life happens while we are making other plans. Tomorrow is another day full of new opportunity and promise. Why not grab it with both hands?