All those plans, hopes and dreams that you had, gone in a split second! Maybe you were banking on some CCA activity that you could use for school admission; or looking forward to that internship; or maybe your family is facing financial hardship and your future plans have to take a back-seat. There are so many emotions bottled up inside of you, you feel like a coke-can that’s been shaken too much and about to erupt the minute the tab is lifted. Crushed dreams can be devastating.
What to do with all those disappointing feelings?
(1) Avoid the Blame game
It’s very common to blame someone or something when things don’t work out. Making excuses or getting into the endless cycle of complains can only get you stuck in the dark pit of despair. It’s even more common to blame yourself. That you are useless or that your luck sucks! All this can cause you to go down the slippery slope of depression.
(2) Feel that feeling
Feeling disappointed is legitimate and you don’t have to be ashamed of the feeling. Avoiding the thoughts or pretending that nothing bad has happened may not help you to move forward. Accepting the disappointment and all the feelings that come with it will clarify what this loss means to you. When we accept that we are suffering and we stop running from the difficult emotions, it frees us up from fighting the emotions.
(3) Name the Emotions.
When people tell you to take a chill pill, it just drives you up the wall. How can you calm down when your world has just gone down the sewer. But research has shown that it is entirely possible to manage those bad feelings even without having to really take any pills. Here’s how:
When you have a million different feelings running riot in our head, name the emotions. By identifying the emotion that you are feeling and naming the emotion, you can reduce the effect of the feeling.
Ask yourself what you are feeling. Name all the feelings.
- I feel angry,
- I feel sad
- I feel hopeless
- I feel cheated
- I feel anxious…….
Now that you’ve named the emotions, then what?
Which is your predominant emotion, or the emotions that are the strongest? Look at the chart and find out which zone you are in and what you should do.
What else can you do to manage your emotion?
- Observe your emotion and give it a name. E.g Angry Andy. Take a step back and observe what Angry Andy wants to do.
- Recognize that Angry Andy may be part of you but not all of you. You are more than your emotion.
- Sometimes fighting Angry Andy may make thing’s worst. Can you imagine getting angry with anger?
- Just because Angry Andy is around, it does not mean you have to listen to him and do as he says.
- Reframing or reappraising your situation will help you to use the logical side of your brain and to quieten down the emotional part of the brain. Think of how your thoughts have distorted the truth and try thinking of the brighter side of things. Look here for Distorted Thinking.
(4) What do you really really want
If things had gone as planned, or if you could wave a wand and still make it happen, what will it be like?
- How would things be different?
- What had you hoped for?
- How would your day be different? How would each part of the day be like?
- What would you be doing?
- What would your loved ones be doing?
- What would they say about you?
- How would you look and behave? What would your best friend say about the way you look and behave?
- How would all of the above make you feel? Has there been any situation in the past where you have felt this this way?
Maybe that scenario can longer happen exactly as planned but perhaps not all is lost. You cannot control the bad situation around you or other people but you can control how you think, how you behave and what you do. What do you still have that you can use to get to where you want to be? Is there any part of that initial dream that you don’t want? You have the chance to change that now. What can life really be like for you?
(5) The way forward
What resources do you have?
To really achieve the life that you want and the good feelings that come with it, you need to know what resources you still have.
- What do you like doing?
- What are you good at?
- What are you most proud of?
- What are some of the good things that your friends say about you?
- What character strengths do you have? curious, funny, kind, thoughtful, caring, fun, strong, brave, protective, friendly, honest, helpful, independent, sociable, fair, patient, confident, creative, generous, tolerant.
- What doors are still open?
- What new opportunities are there now that was not there in the past?
- What does it take to be good at what is needed
- How do your strengths fit in with what is available?
Make SMART Goals
- “S” stands for specific. Are your goals and objectives clear?
- “M” stands for measurable. How can you measure your progress?
- “A” stands for achievable. Can you achieve your goals and objectives?
- “R” stands for realistic. Do you have the resources to achieve your goals?
- “T” stands for time-bound. When do you intend to achieve your goals?
Just do one thing different every day.
Break problem patterns
- Think of a time when things went well for you. When does that happen? What did you do differently from now?
- Use Action Talk to change your relationship with people. Action talk is about facts and things that you can see and describe.
- These are not feelings and is not about what you believe the other person was thinking or feeling. You cannot assume to know what another person is thinking or feeling.
- When you complaint or give feedback about a situation you don’t like, talk about the action that you do not like. When you make a request, talk about what action you want the person to do. When you praise someone, talk about what action you liked
Find better solutions
- Observe how other people find solutions to problems that are similar to yours. What can you borrow from their solution for your problem?
- Think of something that you have done in the past that helped make things better. Can you do the same thing to help you this time?
Change your self-talk.
- Think about the times when you did well. What were you doing.
- Talk about times when the problem was not happening. What were you doing when the problem was not happening.
Everyone knows Lazada, you’ve probably bought some stuff from this online store that is owned by Ali baba. But do you know the story behind the founder of Ali Baba?
Before Jack Mah founded Ali Baba he was a tour guide. He struggled to get into college, taking the National Chinese exam 3 times before he got in. He applied for Harvard Business School 10 times and was rejected all 10 times. He then applied to join the police force but they said he was ‘no good’. He even applied to work in KFC. 24 people applied for the same job and they accepted 23 people but did not accept Mah. If Jack Mah had been accepted by Harvard, or the Police, or KFC, he would probably not have started Ali Baba.
Today, Jack Mah is worth $42.1 billion and one of the wealthiest people in the world. Forbes magazine ranks him second place in the list of “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” and he is one of the ‘World’s Most Powerful People’.
We can dream of miracles happening but facing crashing disappointment and getting out of a despairing situation is never easy and it won’t happen over-night. But nothing is impossible if we are willing to be brave and try to work things out. The journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step.
Reference: Coffen.R, Do One Thing Different worksheet, https://www.andrews.edu/~coffen/ Miller.S.D, Hubble.M.A, Duncan.B.L (1996). Handbook of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Publisher: Jossey-Bass Inc. Torre J.B, Lieberman M.D(2018). Putting Feelings Into Words: Affect Labeling as Implicit Emotion Regulation. Emotion Review Vol. 10 No. 2, 116–124 © The Author(s) 2018 ISSN 1754-0739 DOI: 10.1177/1754073917742706 journals.sagepub.com/home/er Emoticons Image by Sergei Tokmakov and Pete Lindforth from Pixabay Feature Image by www.Freepik.com