How Resilient People Deal With Disappointment and Other Crushing Blows

DON'T EXPECT LIFE TO BE FAIR

I remember a time a few years ago when I felt like I had everything together.

I remember thinking I had it made.

My family was running like a well oiled machine. My businesses were totally on track and growing.

Not just gifted to me – I had worked hard. Tirelessly. Relentlessly.

For my family. For my clients. For my business.

I had good friends and a couple of deep trusted friendships that I valued and invested a lot of myself into.

In it all I had balance.

I also had boundaries – I was living intentionally and making smart decisions.

I made sacrifices where it was important, but I had the settling that comes when all your hard work starts to come together.

Support and encouragement in relationships. Opportunity and mentorship at work.

A sense of trust and security with both. 

After all, I wasn’t in middle school anymore. At this point in my life, the upheavals of adolescence and early 20s were over.

The best part of not being 20 is that things are solid in all the right places… you become solid in all the right places and dramatic shifts are few and far between.

But life events don’t stop at 20.

Within a 2 week span London bridge came crashing down.

A close friend did a complete slice and dice in her life and I was one of the sliced.

Overnight and completely and without warning.

Days later – the vision of the job I held and all the meetings and proposals of its expansive future had the rug pulled out as well.

Projects I was looking forward to, new responsibilities and challenges, and the opportunity to continue to connect with bright like minded people in a forward moving team… poof.

The initiatives I was to be a key part of developing and implementing were no longer being pursued.

My prominent position was no longer necessary and I was reduced to nothing more than a lower level supportive position for which I would work long hours and get paid what would end up equalling minimum wage.

I was shocked. Beyond that I was devastated – these weren’t just big sweeping changes – they were things that I had invested time and energy into, I had sacrificed other opportunities for, and that I really loved and were part of my purpose that brought me satisfaction and fulfillment. This was actually the most disappointing of the mess.

I had other people close to me that were falling apart and relying on me heavily at the same time. Everyone expected me to fix things and wanted my constant support.

And then a health scare popped up.

That was the screeching halt.

All of this within two weeks meant that sweet spot of joy, purpose, and meaning I had felt earlier were a distant memory.

I groaned into each day bracing for the next wave of disappointments.

Eventually the waves stopped crashing against me.

But in the midst of that I chose strategic and specific coping strategies to move through it.

Because sh*t happens and you can’t always control it.

I allowed myself to feel everything – because I knew I could handle it. I immediately set boundaries in my life to create time and space that would protect the energy and health in my home. I maintained absolute professionalism by compartmentalizing the events of my life so I could direct my focus intentionally and choose my behavior methodically.

I made it through the storm, looked back at the rubble and selected what I would take from it, how I could reframe it, and who to leave behind from it…and then I focused on moving forward.

This is the formula for success.

Sure I was disappointed – I didn’t ignore that or shut myself off to it.

I was reeling from losing my friend and confidante, my trusted advisors, my favorite place to work and felt disillusioned.

Instead of this mature mesh of grown ups that I thought I had selected and invited into my life, I felt as though I was surrounded by flakes and losers.

This is not unique.

Stuff like this happens to everyone.

We shouldn’t be surprised, but we are.

We grow up thinking life will be fair.

We hear about how if you put goodness into the universe, it will return goodness to you.

To treat others as you want to be treated.

And in a way, because it would be fair, sometimes we expect it – or at least don’t question it.

I’m healthy and balanced. I’m not a pushover or a doormat. And I am methodical in how I live my life and how I treat people.

Not just anyone is part of my life – I make sure I have healthy, grounded, awesome people around on purpose.

Until they aren’t.

And sometimes it’s not your fault.

Let’s face it – you know it – life is not always fair.

People are not reliable.

Even the best will disappoint, be hurtful, and leave you behind.

You can choose to be reduced by it. Or you can choose to be strengthened by it.

Was I going to weep over these losses? I don’t have that kind of time and energy to waste.

Resilient people can be let down, disappointed, and hurt and feel the depth and weight of that emotion and still be able to function in their lives.

Not only do they function, they don’t avoid their feelings or run away from them – they tolerate the emotional discomfort and move through it and come out the other end.

Here’s 5 Ways Resilient People Move Through Disappointment.

1.Resilient people don’t run away from emotions.

Resilience is not shutting down or controlling your emotions.

Contrary to popular belief.

It’s allowing them – all of them – and being able to tolerate them.

Don’t be afraid to feel disappointed or sad – stop running away from negative emotions. You’re human, you’re supposed to feel dammit!

Not feeling or shutting off emotions doesn’t make you strong, it makes you stupid…or at best numb and suppressive.

Either way it’s not healthy and it’s a false sense of control anyway.

We are supposed to feel every emotion in the spectrum proportionate to the event and be able to return back to a calm, healthy state.

We are supposed to be impacted by others and by events.

We are not supposed to be in control all of the time.

We aren’t supposed to be happy all the time.  

We are supposed to respond to life’s events appropriately and then recover.

Sure I was disappointed.

I had lost my best friend, the best parts of my job, vibrant health, and harmony in my family.

All at once.

I felt alone. I felt uncared for, discarded.

I felt deceived and betrayed and hurt.

I allowed it. I owned it. I didn’t project it onto anyone else and I didn’t share it or talk about it a ton. And then I let it move through. Like a grown up.

2.Resilient people compartmentalize.

This is the single greatest secret to managing stress in your life.

Learning how to compartmentalize and win.

This simply means that you are able to you are able to keep one part of your life that’s going awry tamed and in a corner while you still function in your life.

Your work stuff stays mostly at work.

Your home stuff at home.

Your relationship stuff out of the way of your productivity.

It’s hard. Because doing this can make you seem hard or unfeeling.

But it’s not that.

It’s allowing your brain to focus on the task at hand without allowing what’s not working in your life to infect everything else.

It’s building strength so you’re not crippled.

You do this by learning how to be present.

In this moment, getting settled in your chair or wherever you are. Feeling your seat or your feet on the floor. Tracking your breathing, getting into your body and focusing your thoughts and energy to the one task at a time that you need to accomplish.

Your thoughts will wander, emotions will creep up… you notice them, you refocus, you get to your distracting thoughts and feelings later – they’ll still be there.

Physical activity and breaks help this a lot.

Taking your thoughts hostage as they come in to try and sabotage you helps a lot.

Radical self care helps a lot.

Be intentional with how you treat yourself, talk to yourself, listen to yourself and your activity levels during this time to help you stay focused.

P.S. It’s not supposed to be easy – it’s quite hard – but once you master this skill you’ll be amazed at your own strength.

This skill has been one that has been most instrumental in all of my successes. I have learned to become a master compartmentalizer while still being a feeling human.

3.Resilient people set boundaries.

You take a hit, you fall down, you sting for a bit, you get back up.

Resilient people then set boundaries to minimize the same thing happening again.

Someone found a chink in your armour? (armour you shouldn’t have to walk around with in the first place)

You do a repair, you reinforce the armour, and you hone your skills and instincts to avoid future assault.

Easy right?

Not easy.

Lots of people struggle with setting boundaries.

They over explain, they feel disempowered and weak, they try to rebuild in the midst of the rubble, in the same spot, with the same people.

Get out of there!

Do not stay in the same environment with the same people that caused you pain

Why do we do this? Loyalty, obligation, laziness, confusion?

It doesn’t matter why…this is a wake up call… make plans to GET. OUT.

Set boundaries around people that are dysfunctional.

Get rid of the users, losers, and abusers (aka much of my earlier dating history) entirely.

Why lug around old heavy luggage?

You will open yourself up to be hit again if you don’t make changes.

Sometimes these wake up calls are because we are in the wrong place in our lives and we need the redirect.

Sometimes, as was in my case, everything was going right and was right, and external forces obliterated the plan.

There’s another plan. A different route. Ultimately a better outcome.

Better people.

Greater success.

Don’t be afraid to let go of who and what was so that you can be open to the next thing.

The best thing you can do is set boundaries around your time and energy that are firm and clear.

Start creating space in your life to move away from the negative experiences by being selfish enough to take what you need for yourself.

4.Resilient people reframe (and move forward).

You felt everything. You compartmentalized. You set boundaries.

Phew…you’re now far enough out to have some perspective.

Perspective comes after time – not while you’re in it.

Beware reactivity but allow for mistakes. Again, you’re a human feeling being.

You’re not supposed to respond to everything and everyone perfectly and if you’re surrounded by people who accept you on the condition that you do you need to extinguish those connections.

Looking back, the path I was on I thought was going to be big.

Turns out, I found even bigger fish to swim with.

Once time had passed and I had started to move forward (which by the way I wasted ZERO time in doing because movement is a remedy all in itself), I had much more clarity.

The reframe was that, yes all this happened for a reason including to protect me from worse disaster or future instability or longer endurance with people that weren’t even close to being on the same wavelength as me.

Do I give the events or the people credit for “pushing me to mobilize in new directions”.

Gag. Really? And also…never.

I choose my life – every action – and every reaction.

No one did me any favors in this time of my life – rather – they took the value of what I gave them all and used it for their favor.

They didn’t benefit me….I benefitted them.

When you’ve done you’re own work, you know the value you bring to every area of your life.

These events don’t cripple you or leave you bitter and wounded.

They strengthen you.

You are not some meek little creature that needs big people to show you how to live or redirect you in your life.

You choose.

You know who you are and are unwavering in that so you don’t second guess your motives, intentions, behaviors, and value.

You check yourself like everyone else, but you don’t take false blame or indulge in toxic victim mentality.

You know when you’ve done wrong and when you haven’t and you only own one of them.

Beyond that, you have the confidence to stand in that and know that anyone worth a second of your time doesn’t question any of your character or integrity either.

It makes life simple.

And it makes you impermeable to these game changers.

Reframe and then look immediately forward.

In your reframing look around at the people still there and the opportunities still present.

Take what you can learn from the events in your life good and bad but don’t get stuck in reflection.

Lots of people are just in this life purely for themselves and so as soon as they don’t need you or you can’t help them in a way that will give them direct benefit or use, you’re out. Business operates even more cutthroat this way.

It’s all rationalized in a hundred ways to suit everyone else but you and rationalization doesn’t make it truth or right.

The bottom line is… you can’t control everything and you certainly can’t control anyone.

People are unpredictable. 

Maintain control by choosing your own response and always moving forward.

Choose healthy ways to process emotion and rational ways to respond in ways that are aligned with your values.

Leaving disappointments behind with grace and some class and dignity.

Choose your values. Live them – especially when people are unfair to you. Especially when things blow apart.

Being reactive is easy.

Running away from people when you’re overwhelmed is childish.

Leaving a wake of bewilderment in your wake as you bulldoze others to get what you want in life is a bully move.

Being a healthy, resilient grown up, means you are unwavering in your life. You aren’t looking for a rock – you are the rock.

Don’t become hard and bitter or like the people that have hurt you as a defense mechanism. Don’t shut down or out because it’s too hard. Dig in and do the work on yourself so that you can take a hit and keep going without having it change WHO YOU ARE. It’s the only way you can stand tall in the midst of the garbage that can fly around you. Become better and kinder at the same time. Resilient people manage and process their emotions. Resilient people choose their behaviour as aligned with their values and aren’t reactive. Resilient people keep moving, undeterred.

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