How do you process disappointing news? Everybody is different and there is no right or wrong way of processing it. Some people can work it through quickly and some just get stuck, sulk and stay in that place for a long time.
This week, I was given some disappointing news. I need to say here that it did not involve sickness or death in anyone. It was a decision made by another person that affected me, and it could not be thought of as a crisis under reasonable circumstances. And I suppose there in lies a clue – “under reasonable circumstances”.
On hearing the news I couldn’t believe what I had heard, and needed clarification. On receiving it again, I was shocked. I sat quietly for several minutes aware that emotions and feelings were running wild in me. These included:
- grief – I was loosing something that had become important to me, although I hadn’t seen it grow to this point in my life. I cried.
- it’s not fair – I wanted to behave like a child; to suck my thumb and pull my ear while sitting in a corner.
- selfishness – My mind was saying that these circumstances, brought about by another person’s decision, was a selfish one on their part. It was short-sighted and I found myself voicing this out loud. “Couldn’t they see how this was going to cause me problems?”
- anger and resentment – This didn’t last long but I was angry for the inconvenience of it all.
- unstable – My world, at that time, felt as if it was in turmoil.
What I have come to learn is that feelings are NOT necessarily the truth of a situation. If I chose to believe my feelings and stay in this place of grief, selfishness, anger, and instability I would not be able to move on.
The truth was that I was losing something, but it wasn’t life threatening to me. I could sulk about it; let everyone know that I had been hard-done-by and get some attention, but it would not change anything. In fact, to stay in that place would soon become an ugly place of self-pity. In believing the other party was selfish, I was being selfish too, expecting them to see how their decision was affecting me. How could they see that? They were not me. Holding on to the anger would be dangerous. It could hold the other person in “bondage” and break a good friendship and, over time, it could make me ill by causing chemicals to flood my body that would build up and not be removed.
If there is one good thing that could be found in the middle of my list that holds some hope, it is “instability”. Approaching this in a positive way is a challenge, but challenges bring growth and change.
However, we can often seek to obtain stability and comfort in unhealthy ways i.e. alcohol, chemical substances, food, work and other addictions.
At the end of the day, I had choices to make. I allowed my feelings to arise in me but I didn’t allow them to influence my choices in how I progressed. They were not the reality of the situation, but a reaction to it. I was able to sleep, and the next day I could start to talk positively about what the next steps for me could be, and how I could move forward.
How do you process disappointment?
Is there anything in my list that you recognise in yourself?
Do you do things differently?