We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Do you remember the old Game of Life?
On hot boring summer days when I was a kid, we'd get out the tattered game box, choose our tiny plastic station wagons and spin the wheel. We'd plug our armless peg spouses and children in the holes in the car's backseat, and meander our way through "Life" to the rest home at the end of the board's path.
The real Game of Life doesn't have an instruction booklet, game pieces or too many clear guidelines.
And in the past week, after a big professional goof up, some disappointments, news of a friend's cancer diagnosis, and then, Boston, I've had a tiny urge to peek over my shoulder – just to see what might be gaining on me.
It feels like a measure of my own growth and personal development that while I could have seen a big chunk of this past week as a failure or series of losses, I didn't.
I felt stupid, disappointed, sad and heartbroken – in some measure, in different combinations at different times – but none of it broke me.
Instead, I apologized, fixed, comforted, hugged, cried, and got to work on what is next for each of the situations I was facing.
So, what's the path through disappointment and loss?
1) Name it. Life is a big gamble and entails risk just in showing up for it. The only thing that is guaranteed in life is change. The nature of life entails unknown and sometimes painful territory, risk and loss. It's an part of the deal with being a human being.
2) Feel it. Nothing poisons our internal well more than harboring disappointment, fear or anger over the long term. By allowing yourself to actually feel your feelings (sometimes loudly and overtly) in the moment, you can more quickly process your experience and move on.
3) Ask for help. Do I sound like a broken record on this yet? Let other people in where you can and let them help you.
4) Choose and act. Taking charge of what is in your control, and doing what you can, even if it is small, gets you out of victim mode and back in the game.
Below, it's your turn. Tell me:
– What do you do in the face of disappointment and loss?
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