We’ve all had that day, week, month or even year (don’t worry I’m not quoting the friends theme song) when it feels like disappointment follows you wherever you go. I know I’ve had those days. It can seem so hard to stay positive but sometimes that is the best answer!
Staying positive doesn’t mean we don’t have negative thoughts (because lets be real, it’s normal to have them) but it just means that when something comes our way, we should look at all the other possible outcomes, before we jump to the most negative one. Over the past couple of months, I have been doing a few courses on mental health and the main point that was addressed, was ‘perception is everything’. What this means is, that our thoughts and feelings are mainly determined on how we’ve perceived a situation in our heads. The problem with this, of course, is that we can sometimes falsely interpret a situation and therefore cause ourselves unnecessary stress. I know I’ve definitely jumped to the worst-case scenario in a certain situation, which in some ways, I can blame on my enneagram type, because I am a 6 and they’re known for doing this. However, it helps if you flip this and rather, think about most positive outcome of a situation first, rather than the negative.
An example of this is: you’re walking down the street and you see someone you know from work; you wave to them and say hi and they see you, but they run away.
Looking at this situation in a negative way i.e. thinking “that person doesn’t like me and they’re too embarrassed to speak to me” means that you make yourself feel worse because you’re putting yourself at the centre. However, looking at the situation in a more positive way i.e. they probably only ran away because they realised, they were late for something, means that you don’t make the situation about yourself and you’ll go home not doubting yourself. In CBT, this is called ambiguous information because it relies on the person interpreting the situation, rather than factual evidence supporting the situation. Research has shown that people with anxiety and depression are more likely to interpret ambiguous situations more negatively so don’t worry if you naturally do this without thinking about it. The challenge is to rewire the brain to not jump into this spiral of negative thinking.
However, you may be thinking there is a difference between seeing the worst-case scenario and something negative actually happening to you. You are right, there is a difference and that’s what going to talk to you about.
When something bad happens we immediately feel horrible because it’s 100% evident in front of us. Whereas when we ‘think’ negatively, it’s not always what’s really happening, it can just be our perception of the situation. So, the question is how we do we respond to disappointment when it is arises?
Disappointment is a natural occurrence of life; whether you haven’t got the job you wanted or something that you wanted to go to has been cancelled. There are so many things that can cause us to be disappointed. That is why, going back to the initial point ‘staying positive’ is key. Like I mentioned to you in the ambiguous situation example, that having a more positive and optimistic approach helps. The same principle applies here. That doesn’t mean it won’t affect you at all, but it just means that you won’t open yourself up as many negative emotions.
You may be thinking how I can put this into action. So, I will state an example for you so that you can see how.
You’ve applied for a job that you think you would be perfect for; in addition to also having all the skills that the job requires. However, after consideration they tell you that you’re not the applicant that they’re looking for. You feel extremely disappointed and you start to doubt yourself.
If this scenario has happened to you, I can understand and empathise with what this feels like because this has happened to me several times. In the past I would have felt disappointed about it for a few days and wouldn’t have stopped thinking about it. However, I can tell you that when this happens to me now, I do 2 things 1) thank God that he has plan and clearly being in that job wasn’t in line with his plan for me 2) take it as an opportunity to learn more and develop more skills. This is just my own experience and obviously everyone has different scenarios but the point I want to address is that you can always learn from a situation and use it as an advantage. Since being a Christian I have realised that God is so amazing that he will take anything that is negative and use it as an advantage. Let’s just say he ‘recycles’ our pain.
Sometimes it is hard to be optimistic especially when it seems like it is just disappointment after disappointment. However, I personally believe that these things happen to remind us of what it important. Is that thing that you’re disappointed about the most important thing in your life right now? Is it so important that you can’t carry on without it? Most of the time the answer to both of those questions will be no. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be disappointed because, like I said it is a normal to feel this way, but it is reminding yourself that you can get through that season of disappointment.
Something that I have learnt is that I write about so many things, I forget about what my initial point in this post was haha! Regardless I hope I will help you to see that disappointment doesn’t have to consume your thoughts.
Love Emily xxx