Stay Out Of The Rabbit Hole: Dealing With Disappointment
Dealing with Disappointment is never easy whether it be a low grade on a test, a lost tennis match, or not getting the job you interviewed for. Life is full of opportunities to practice dealing with disappointment, Finding ways to soften the blow is a vital skill for resiliency. So how do we do this? For better or worse, I often have the chance to practice dealing with disappointment in the sport of dog agility. I run agility with my corgi, Ziggy. We compete frequently-sometimes qualifying in our run, sometimes not. A few weeks ago we were having our share of not qualifying runs. After a particularly frustrating run, I thought about scratching the rest of the day, thinking we were never going to do better. I cursed the judge for being too picky and setting courses that were too difficult. I compared myself to other competitors and thought I’d never be as good as them. I felt doubtful about achieving our goals. I refer to these thoughts/feelings as ones that take me down a rabbit hole of self-criticism, anger, and blame. Needless to say, the rabbit hole is not a very resilient place to stay. What better place to practice what I tell others to do when they are in that same hole. We had one more run to complete that day. I decided I needed to adjust my thinking if we had any chance of qualifying in it. I did this by first looking at what went well in all our previous runs, and there were a lot of really good moments. In fact they outweighed the not so great ones. The second thing I did was look at the places where we had made mistakes and I saw why they happened. It wasn’t because of the judge or the course. I saw what I had mishandled and how I could do it differently the next time. I let those things be my guide for future practice Finally I reminded myself of how far Ziggy and I have come. He is my first agility dog, and we are already competing at high levels. We are actually quite amazing. I felt myself getting lighter and more positive as I did these things, and the transformation happened quite quickly. With renewed confidence and a sense of hope, Ziggy and I nailed the last run of the weekend.
Not all disappointments are this easy to overcome, and it was only this easy because I had practiced these skills of resiliency many times. So…to sum it up when you are facing a disappointment, take a moment to reflect on what went well in the game, the interview, on the test. Next, look at where you stumbled and take time to figure out how you could improve. Let those things be your guide as you prepare you for the future. Finally, remember successes that you have had in the past and remind yourself that you too are amazing.