Disappointment, it feels horrible and it can be hard to shake. You feel useless and numb, you want to hide and disappear.
I’ve had to deal with a dose of disappointment on a large scale myself recently, publicly too. Although I qualified for the Rio Olympic Games and became British Champion along the way, I wasn't picked to represent Team GB.
The biggest sporting spectacle on the planet, the pinnacle of sport. It hurt, not just mentally, it was physical too. I could feel that my soul was bruised, my heart felt heavy and ached uncontrollably. Four years of hard-work - early mornings, sore muscles, sacrifices, missed birthdays; time with friends, family occasions, all so that I could put maximum effort into performing at my third Olympic Games and tussle with the World’s finest for a medal. It all came crashing down around me.
How do you pick yourself up from such a setback like this?
1. Did you give it your best shot?
Giving it your all, leaving no stone unturned, every option covered means that you can rest easy that you done all you could. You done your absolute best, you can ask no more, it may not have been enough this time but you gave it everything.
If you haven't done this, then you should feel even more disappointed in yourself (didn’t expect that? I’m not here to babysit you!). If you did not push as hard as possible, were not diligent, you slacked off, did not focus and commit, then you should be disappointed in yourself, you let yourself down.
If you gave it your best, then thats all you can do, you can be at peace with that.
2. Feel it and accept it.
The initial thought with disappointment is to runaway from the disappointment, bury it deep somewhere - ‘if I pretend it didn't happen it didn't happen’, that won't be helpful to you in the long run.
You are an emotional being, feel the pain. It is important to feel emotions as they arise, it is part of the process. It is not being weak or not resilient, in fact it is part of being resilient.
Feeling the pain will eventually give you motivation, the fuel to go at it again, fuel for the fire.
3. Three day rule.
Allow yourself to feel the pain, mope, be upset and beat yourself up for a maximum of three days. After this, decide that enough is enough, it is time to start looking forward and hatching a new plan.
Adversity breeds strength, you become wise by what you experience. Disappointment will have lessons, work out what yours are: What did you do right? What did you do wrong? Who has been an integral part of your team? Did you make any mistakes in your plan? What can you do to lower the chance of this happening again?
5. Time for fun
This disappointment is one element of your life. Have some fun with the other areas of your life. There is more to your life than this one disappointment.
Laughter is brain juice. Your dopamine levels, which is a neurotransmitter that helps control reward and pleasure will be low. Dopamine effects your mood, behaviour, energy levels and focus. This is why many resort to cakes, ice-cream, chocolate and shopping at low times because they spike your dopamine levels. Not a wise or healthy route to take, a little of what you fancy is good and I said a little…!
Time to boost your dopamine levels - listen to music, exercise, laugh, be creative, meditate, socialise with friends, spend time with your family, do what gives you pleasure.
The upside to disappointment is what opportunity have you now been given? What can you now do that you wouldn't have been able to do if you achieved your goal?
Make the best of a bad situation, take advantage of it.
7. Look forward - Your new journey
Now that you've dealt with all that. Where are you going next? Whats the new journey that you are going to take? Whats your new desire?
This focus helps you put your disappointment into perspective and start to plan out the processes and steps that are needed to achieve your new ambition. Working backwards from your goal can often be helpful.
Anticipating achieving this new goal will keep your dopamine levels topped up too and aid your motivation.
8. Be ready!
The Rio Olympic Games will soon start. Will disappointment rear its head again? Yes. I will once again feel that tinge of disappointment.
We are human. Expect disappointment to crop back up, it is all part of the process, it is natural, it may even crop up years later. Knowing this will happen will help you to deal with it swiftly and move on.
Feeling that disappointment as it pops up, now that you have your new sparkly plan, will add fuel to the fire of your new burning desire, use it!
Part of being ambitious and having high expectations means that you will fail more than you succeed, you have to be able to handle disappointment. Disappointment shows that you put yourself out there and gave it a shot, that is brave and takes courage. Get back up, keep your expectations high, stay ambitious and go back at it!
Nathan Douglas - Peak Performance Expert and Life Coach. Double Olympian.
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