How to Handle Disappointment and Setbacks in Life

Chances are, that if you’re reading this, you’re going through some hard times. Perhaps you’ve lost something, or your plans didn’t turn out as you expected. I know the feeling – the feeling of wanting to smash your head against the wall and scream WHY. In this blog post, I’ll share my thoughts on how to handle disappointment and setbacks in life.

The Battle Is In the Mind

Why did this have to happen? Why now, why me? Sounds familiar? I think that some version of this is playing in most people’s mind when they experience adversity. Perhaps you’re associating an emotion like anger, frustration, or sadness to that thought. Let me be clear; I’m no psychologist, neither am I a motivator. I’m not going to give you affirmations, nor will I advise you to try some natural remedy to cure your anxiety. No, I’m a person that sometimes worries, and I experience setbacks from time to time. Therefore, it would seem unnatural for me to write about anything else than what works for me. The first idea, I like to think about, is that the battle is in my mind. Knowing where to fight, I now have a starting point.

Is Their Grass Greener?

Our minds will often look at the people who we think have it better than us, especially in hard times. The life they live seems so easy and glamorous, compared to ours. Keep in mind that appearance seldom carries the whole truth. You don’t see their disappointments and setbacks. Therefore, in hard times, never wish to be in another person’s shoes.

Do This

Accept what happened. If you can’t change it, then accept it. We amplify our suffering when we try to refuse things that happen. Does this mean that you should be passive in life until the bank are foreclosing your home and say “It was meant to be”? No, common sense is a virtue. What it means is that you accept the event that made you disappointed to remove cluttered thoughts and emotions. Now, you’ve set yourself up to deal with the setback in a practical way.

Turn It To Your Advantage

Now that you’ve come to peace with what happened, it’s time to adapt. This is a strategy that has been used and is still being used by great generals, CEOs, and other leaders. Bruce Lee said, be water. Ryan Holliday calls it the Obstacle Is The Way, (Not read it yet, but definitely will). You can also phrase it; turn shit into sugar like Robert Greene does in The 50th Law. What this mean is that you need to find the opportunity in the setback. Finding this is often easier when looking back, and it can be hard when you’re in the storm. But train your mind to become present, alert and focused on solutions. Scream, yell and cry if you need to but don’t stay in a state of self-pity. You’ll be closing your mind, and it needs to be fluid, like water.

Life is chaotic, and straight lines are rare in nature. You will never be able to control the outcome of every single circumstance.  However, what you can control is your response. Will you dig yourself into a hole and stay there or will you do like Pay Flynn who built a million dollar online business, after he got laid off.

“Easier Said Than Done”

You might be thinking that this ´sounds´ great but that’s not the case for me. “There’s nothing good coming from this setback.” Okay, I understand where you’re coming from. I been there myself, hence the harsh introduction.  I don’t know your situation so I can’t see what your next step needs to be. Sometimes, it’s time to reflect and readjust your plan. In other cases, it’s time to be aggressive and move forward. You need to use your rational mind which is the best tool that we humans have.

A Story from our Previous Business

I can give you a story of a setback from one of our previous companies. Our company landed a deal that we knew was going to give more than $10 000 in pure profits. We were dependent on this deal since it could mean that we had to sell our house if we didn’t close it. We came to an agreement, but with the wrong guy. He was not the official signatory which meant that the contract was invalid. I’ve experienced this before, and I know how it can play out. Since we were in the cold calling business, things could change rapidly. Many times the response after such a situation is “well if my signature is not good enough then it’s not worth the hassle.” Being in a desperate situation, we knew that this was not the time to be passive. It was time to act and respond with an aggressive move.

More problems arose as we found out that the CEO was in another country, and he was very hard to reach. After analysing the corporate structure, we discovered that the contract would be valid if two members of the board would sign it. Yes, I thought, now it’s just a matter of getting their email addresses and talking to the manager that had previously signed the deal.

I was disappointed again; it turned out that the third party didn’t allow a proxy to move further with an electronic signature. The members had to sign it with a pen and paper which drastically lowers the rate of signatures. People want speed and signing on paper make them procrastinate since it seems to have more consequences. I could feel the manager losing his patience every time I called him. Perhaps he would question our company since we had only existed for a couple of months. An unknown company is striking a deal with a $50 million+ business, and he was supposed to be the advocate to his superiors?

I felt the anxiety increase while still being on the offence. After many calls and emails, he finally said, “Post me the contracts and I’ll send them to the two members of the board.” Days, weeks and even months went by with no response. Had we lost the deal? Now was not the time to be aggressive. One unnecessary email or phone call could make us look desperate (which we were).

Then after a few months, we got a letter from the company. It contained two signed contracts.

Find the Answer Within

Too often in life, we look to other people for answers. We turn to gurus and wish that they could give us a script on how to live. Understand; you carry more power inside yourself than you can imagine. People who tell you that you’re too young to create and conquer are talking from their experience. Perhaps, they’re afraid of the youth since it has its advantages. Alexander the great conquered being 18 years old so there’s no excuse. The same goes if you’re old. Look for answers outside if you must, but always be self-reliant. So, the short formula for how to handle disappointment and setbacks in life is: accept what happened, become present and deal with it by trusting your instinct on what’s right for this particular situation.

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