Disappointments Don’t Have to be a Setback

December 19, 2013

Martha Germann
Founder, Mindful Games Institute LLC

I used to think that I dealt with disappointments in a positive manner.

I remember applying for the open manager’s position in my department. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted the job but the moment I decided to apply I got very excited. I felt I had something to offer the team and was able to picture myself as a leader.

Then I got the call from the director.

“Thank you, Martha, for interviewing for the manager’s position. However, we didn’t feel you had the qualifications and experience that we are looking for at this time and you did not get selected. We are continuing our search.”

I wasn’t even beaten out by someone that was better than me. I was just plain rejected -and very disappointed. I went for something and it fell through.

After the initial sting, I didn’t become bitter or indignant which I could have easily convinced myself was a valid response. I decided that it was for the best. I really didn’t want the added responsibility and that it was just not meant to be. I got back to preforming the duties of my job.

I also told myself that next time, I wouldn’t get my hopes up so much. This reaction may seem more practical and prudent then going negative, but it is still limiting.

How do you deal with disappointment? Or even more important, how do you let the disappointments you have experienced in the past affect the opportunities you are presented with now?

Do you hold back from hoping that it will work out? Do you keep yourself in check?

By holding back our excitement we may feel like we are saving ourselves from potential pain of disappointment, but we are also missing out on what new ideas and possibilities may come from whatever the outcome may be. We block our ability to picture and prepare for the potential opportunity or new ones if the current one falls through.

I noticed that when I would hold back, what became more in focus was the potential that things may not work out the way that I wanted. I was preparing myself for what I didn’t want instead of for what I did want.

Because I am more interested now in thriving and not just surviving, how I look at these opportunities and setbacks has shifted. And I gain more from both.

For example, when I first started my company, Mindful Games Institute, a colleague referred me to a booking agent for speakers. It seemed like a great idea and a way to get exposure for a very good price so I opted in.

The moment I sent the money, I saw myself as a speaker. I got excited about the prospect of having many speaking gigs and began to hone my presentation. I created materials that would support the information I talked about. I did things a speaker does.

In the month after I signed up, I stopped getting emails from the agent and couldn’t reach her by phone. I had a thought that I may have been taken in by a scam and felt some disappointment- but it was fleeting. I was too aware of all that I accomplished because I let myself be excited for the opportunity. I was prepared for speaking engagements because of the experience.

Many of you may be thinking that I should have fought to get my money back, that the agent should have been punished. Valid responses, but that would have distracted me from all I had gained and kept me from following up on other opportunities that came my way. I take full responsibility for the decision I made and instead of feeling like I had been taken advantage of, I have been able to instead, take advantage of the increased confidence I feel from what I had accomplished.

I chose to look at the situation as a stepping stone instead of a step back.

Now I look at every exciting opportunity as something that will propel me forward no matter what the outcome. I let myself picture what it would feel like when things go the way I prefer. The bonus of this is not only am I prepared for success, but even if things happen to fall through, I get to feel more excitement and joy in my life, which is what we are all looking for anyway.