Dealing With Disappointment

By Anna Mitchell

Disappointments come in all shapes and sizes in the world of competitive sports. Sometimes the disappointment is minor and we can shake it off and go on. Other times the disappointment can be crippling, making it very difficult for us to put it behind us and move on. Understanding why we feel so disappointed at times and learning how to deal with that disappointment is a crucial skill for competitive athletes to learn if they hope to have a successful and fulfilling career in sports.

Remember that disappointment is a personal experience, defined by our hopes, expectations, and personal goals. In particular trainers and coaches need to keep in mind that one man’s disappointment may be another man’s dreams. Just ask Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney who achieved what most of us could barely imagine by winning a silver medal in England. Few of us, however, will forget the heart-breaking look of disappointment as she stood on the podium to receive her medal. There seems to be no bigger disappointment than “almost, but not quite.”

So what now? What do you do after a monumental disappointment? You could give up, but you will probably always carry that “never quite made it” feeling. Or you can pick up the pieces, reevaluate, and come back fighting.

Here are some tips to ease the sting from a disappointment and help you regroup:

Reassess your expectations: Time for a reality check. Are your expectations and the expectations of those around you realistic?

Ask yourself “how good is good enough.” Many people strive for an elusive goal called success with no clear definition of what success means to them.

Reframe your perception of your experience from “failure” to “leaning opportunity.”

Forgive and let live. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. Stay in the moment and try  not to dwell in the past. Work on acceptance and let it go.

Use the experience to make you stronger.

Quit looking at success like a smooth linear process. Start seeing the road to success for what it really is: a squiggly, higgledy, piggledy line that often doubles back on itself. If you expect some bumps, then it’s not such a shock when you hit one.

Remember that tomorrow is a new day.

We have all had disappointments in our lives, some have a greater impact than others. What is one major disappointment that you experienced in your life and what did you learn from that experience? Did it change who you are today?

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