Dealing with disappointment: ten things I like about myself
Life is full of disappointments. They start off small – missing out on a friend’s birthday party because you are grounded, losing the sports day race, or realizing your science experiment didn’t turn out as planned. But as life unfolds, disappointments tend to have bigger repercussions, for example, failing an exam, not getting into your top college choice, or being dumped by your sweetheart.
Being able to cope with disappointment means we are resilient to life’s stresses; we can roll with the punches if you like.
This is not only an essential skill for our mental health and general wellbeing, but also helps us to keep motivated and moving forward towards achieving our goals.
Positive psychology exercises to help you
Below are two exercises to help you cope with the next disappointment that life throws at you. They employ the science of positive psychology to help keep you strong, happy and aiming high no matter what life throws at you.
When you practice thinking positively repeatedly (at least every day or better, several times a day), you actually help ‘rewire’ your brain so that you will naturally start thinking more positively without thinking about it. Just like shooting a basketball, taking control of your thoughts is a skill like any other.
With continued practice, over time you will naturally stop dwelling on negative thoughts, which can hold you back from achieving your best. Instead, you will feel happier and be able to cope with life’s ups and downs more easily.
a) Ten things I like about myself
Set aside your modesty – you are not boasting. This exercise is for your eyes and no one else’s.
Write a list or mind-map of 10 aspects of yourself that you really like
Include achievements, personality traits, special talents, behaviors, and relationships
Option: you could additionally ask a friend or family member for some ideas of what they like about you. This is an excellent way of gaining insight into positive things that people notice about you, and you might be surprised about what you hear.
Keep your notes safe and look at them every day before you go to bed, or every time you are coping with a negative event or feeling. You can add to the list over time, or remove things that are no longer relevant.
b) Talk to the mirror
Every time you go to the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself one good thing.
Examples: “You aced that maths class earlier”; “You look great in that new shirt”; or “You handled that difficult conversation with Susan really well.”
Do this at least three times every day. If you don’t want to speak out loud, then just whisper or say it in your head.
By practicing one or both of these above exercises, you will change the way you think to be naturally more positive and resilient.
Good luck and don’t forget to keep going, whatever life’s challenges are.
Sarah Morris is a teacher, coach, and director of Brain Happy, a company that specializes in improving wellbeing in schools and workplaces.