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How to Rise Fearlessly Above the Agony of Defeat

Disappointment is a normal aspect of life, and it doesn’t discriminate. I’ve had clients from the upper echelons of society talk to me with great disappointment about the multimillion-dollar business deal that got away, and I’ve had teenagers heartbroken over the girl or boy that got away. Disappointment happens and it knows no bounds. What you do in the wake of such disappointment can set you up for success or failure, should you find yourself in a similar situation down the road.

Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion you were banking on, or maybe your offer for the new home was just a bit too low. Whatever the case, a sense of loss, dismay, and defeat is the result. Without such emotion we wouldn’t be able to truly savor the taste of victory or bask in the glow of accomplishment and success when it happens. In many ways, it keeps us real, true, and humble — and can also keep us motivated.

Here’s how you can rise above the agony of defeat and keep moving forward:

  1. Give yourself a break. So often, self blame is the reason people can’t accept an outcome and move on. They obsess and ruminate over what they did or didn’t do that may have resulted in the negative result. Accept the notion that what is done is truly done and beating yourself up over things will not help you to move on.
  2. Step back and gain some perspective. It’s easy to stay mired in disappointment given that the emotion is so palpable. Try to step back by imagining the events playing out on a movie screen. Viewing it as a spectator rather than as a participant will help soften the blow and ease the raw emotion as there’s some distance created between you and the event.
  3. Don’t personalize it. Rather than thinking it is something you did or didn’t do, consider alternative explanations. For example, if you didn’t land that raise you were hoping for, consider that there may be a reason that has nothing to do with you. Maybe there are budget restrictions, for instance.
  4. Don’t define yourself by it. Just because a girl declined your invitation for a date, it doesn’t mean you’re a reject or undateable. It means you’re a person who goes after what you want, even when the outcome isn’t certain, and you can’t be everyone’s type. Another example, let’s say you didn’t do well in a race, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad runner. It means you didn’t have your best race day, that’s all.
  5. Be a problem solver. See any disappointment as an opportunity to evaluate your approach. What can you learn from the situation? How can you approach it next time to ensure a better outcome? Be open to trying a different approach and know that sometimes small changes in strategy can make a big difference in outcome.
  6. Think about your strengths. So often in the face of disappointment people have the tendency to dwell on what they perceive as their weaknesses. Instead, think about what you’re good at. What strengths do you have that have helped you to succeed thus far in your career? What skills have yet to be tapped that might help pull you through next time?
  7. Surround yourself with positive people. Who can you turn to in time of need? Think about people in your life who are encouraging and make you feel good. People you trust and those with whom you can strategize.  Reach out to them and not the naysayers.

So, next time things don’t go your way, will you wallow in your misery or will you change the way you think about the situation, learn from it, and move on and fearlessly face your next challenge?

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