3 Steps for Handling Disappointment or Adversity
By Maurine Patten

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate continues to increase on a monthly basis this
year.  Other economic signs are beginning to show some small improvement which
helps remind us that eventually companies will begin hiring again.  

In the meantime, life continues to be a struggle for many people.

You might be facing other common disappointments or adversities.  In the work place,
the bid you put in for a project was rejected, or you did not get the job you had hoped

Maybe the kitchen or wash needs cleaning, and you do not want to face the day.

Whenever you have an expectation or hope that is not realized, you feel some level of
disappointment or sadness.  How you think about the situation will have a lot do with
the feelings you have and how you choose to act or behave.

In addition, research indicates that your happiness as an adult might depend on how
well you learned as a child to:

1. Deal with disappointment or adversity.

2. Create and sustain joy.

Are you one of many adults who did not learn how to do either of these things very
well as you were growing up?  If you are, now is your chance to master these two
skills.  With some commitment and effort, there are things you can do to make a
difference in your level of happiness.

Are you ready to responsible for your own feelings, especially negative ones?  It is
easy to blame others for the way you feel.  However, this will not increase your level
of happiness.  You begin by first being ready to be responsible for your own feelings.

In every negative situation, you have a choice of focusing on the:

1. Terrible things about it, and how it will make your life harder or less satisfying, or

2. Opportunities this situation may offer you and how you can use your strengths to
move forward.

When you are feeling stressed, irritable, anxious or sad, there are three key questions
you need to ask yourself:

1. What opportunities are there for me in this situation?

2. What resources do I have to help me?

3. How will I use my resources?

However, before you can answer these questions, you have to have self-awareness.  
This means you are able to notice what you are feeling and be able to acknowledge the
feeling.  You own the feeling by naming it.  Think of the feeling as a cue that you need
to notice and acknowledge what you are telling yourself.  

You might be saying something like, "I can't do this," or "I need help with this."  Be
curious about what you discover you are telling yourself without reacting emotionally
to it.

Now is the time to ask the first question listed above -
- What opportunities are there
for me in this situation?  You might be surprised by the answers you get.

Sometimes the opportunities are not ones you would have chosen for yourself at that
particular time.  You may not feel ready to meet the challenge of finding employment
or another project to bid on, cleaning the kitchen or doing the wash.  However, one of
the most important things you can do for yourself is to stop and discover what
opportunities there are for you in the situation.

After you have discovered some opportunities, the next step is to ask the second
question -
- What resources do I have to help me?  

Identify your internal and external resources that will help you embrace the
opportunities.  Internal resources may be your intelligence, sense of humor, the
experience you bring, perseverance, courage, etc.  External resources may be family,
friends, someone you respect, money, time, etc.

The final step is to ask the third question -- How will I use my resources?  

Determine how your resources will help you move forward.  When you get to this last
step, you might want to talk with a trusted advisor to help you know what to do if the
situation is complex.  The important thing is to come up with a plan that is doable and
easy to follow through with over time.

These three steps will help you successfully handle major and smaller
disappointments or adversities.  

The next time you notice yourself feeling disappointment or facing an adversity, ask
the three key questions.  Determine the steps you will follow and the time frame you
need to be successful as you embrace the opportunities ahead.

About the author: Maurine Patten, Ed.D., CMC empowers top talent to work collaboratively,
increase motivation and improve performance using the latest research in neuroscience.  Visit
Maurine at
Pattern Coaching services for details and her free report "How to Be Resilient in
Today's World."

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