Disappointments happen; and we need to get used to it. We are going to have bad times as well as good; and the only thing we can really control is the way we respond.
When we fall, there is a temptation to think that we are failures. But that is not necessarily true. It has often been said that failure is successfully finding a way that does not work. That’s a good way to look at it. Psychologists call it reframing. It’s a matter of looking at things from a different perspective; changing the way we think about things; viewing failure as an opportunity to learn. It’s a matter of seeing the potential in each situation. As was once said, when you’re at the bottom, the only way is up.
I know it sounds condescending to say, “Think positively.” But it is the way forward. If we can see the next step forward, and if we can summon up the courage and strength to take that step, then we will not stay down; we will not be a failure. Moving forward after a disappointment is essential if we are to enjoy life. It also means that we are not going to be victims of our circumstances. Too many people wallow in their misery rather than getting on with life. The past is past. Learn from the past, by all means; but leave it in the past and get on with living.
Thinking positively may be the last thing on our mind, of course. After all, we have suffered a setback but being positive means we are already starting to recover. We are moving on.
So how can we start to think positively?
Determine the Next Step
If you were heading for a destination, say a vacation, and you took a wrong turning, would you decide that you may as well not keep going? Would you not look around you, find out where you are, compare that with where you want to be, and start heading in that direction? A journey of a thousand leagues may start with a single step, but it also ends with a single step. And each step is one step closer to the destination.
So what is your next step? It’s certainly not to stay down. You still have a destination to reach. So, where is that destination compared with where you are now?
Sometimes we have to take stock of our situation. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and work out where we are. Then, we need to look around us, find our bearings, and point ourselves in the right direction. Once we have achieved that, we can consider our plans. After all, it may have been necessary for us to change our plans. Maybe our circumstances have changed dramatically; maybe we had planned a future with someone special who is no longer there; maybe we are facing a future that we are not looking forward to. But it is our future, and we are going to live it, whether we embrace it or not.
Now it is more important than ever to take that first step. Remember, we cannot change direction unless we are in motion. Therefore, it is essential that we get moving. And, if we can move in the right direction, so much the better.
One of the best ways to get ourselves moving is to look for ways to help someone else.
Do Something For Someone Else
When we are suffering from the effects of a disappointment it is easy to focus inwards. We look only at our own problems. Yet we know that there are other people out there who are in the same, if not a worse position than we are. And some of those people are nearby, perhaps even in our own family.
Focusing on the needs of someone else can be an excellent way to encourage positive thinking. By focusing on helping someone else we actually help ourselves. We experience the pleasure of giving. And when we see that our efforts bring joy to someone else, it brings joy to us, too.
Take Time to Grieve
This does not mean that we cannot take time to grieve, of course. And I’m not just talking about grieving after the death of a loved one; we may need to grieve a lost opportunity, a lost job, or even the embarrassing loss of our dignity.
Still, doing things for others can actually help us to grieve. It’s often the case that when we are doing things for other people, they do something for us. Sometimes, they listen to us. For example, consider helping an older relative to look after their garden. They know about our changed circumstances. They may not be in a position to do much physical work, but while we are doing the work they may encourage us to talk; and talking is a great way to deal with disappointments.
Yet, even if the other person does not even know it’s us doing the giving, they still do something for us. Consider making a donation to charity, for example. The charity’s beneficiaries may never know who made the donation; but the donor knows, and feels a sense of gratitude and satisfaction from that giving. This can lift the spirits and help in the recovery.
It’s Getting Up That Counts
One thing to remember, though, is that it doesn’t matter how many times we fall. It’s how many times we get up that counts. If we get up more often than we fall, we are not a failure.
I know. How can we get up more times than we fall? Easy. To fall, we must have got up in the first place. Therefore, if we fall once, we have already got up once. Getting up again means getting up for the second time. Otherwise, we would not talk of getting up again.
So remember, it’s not how many times you fall, or fail, that counts. What matters is how many times you get up. That’s one of the greatest secrets of success. Don’t be afraid of the future. It may not be what we had planned, but we can get up again. And it’s getting up that counts.