How to deal with disappointment

For the last year or so, I have been working towards a qualification.  Each time I got close, a new hurdle popped up that needed jumping.  I kept training, kept jumping and the finish line was sooooo in sight that the plans on what I would do with that new qualification were, in my mind, already in progress.

On the day I had a 120 mile drive.  Early mornings not the best time of day for me, but I got in the car and headed off down the A303 with that inner confidence that I had prepared the best I could and trusting that a few hours later, I'd be pulling back on to the drive with a new badge pinned to me!

I got to North Devon and met my assessor - someone I had had a bit of a 'falling out' with 4 months earlier.  She wouldn't engage in eye contact with me and on the first task, told me I had not done it 'by the book.'  In the last year, I had done that particular thing a dozen or more times with no negative feedback and didn't even know there was 'a book!'

However, digging deep, I told myself I was well prepared, I was good enough and just do my best - as that is always good enough.

Well, it wasn't!  

Her feedback was that I was little better in my umpiring than when I qualified at the stage below over 2 years ago!  

Gutted.  Devastated.  Distraught.  There were no words that really got close.  On the drive home, my mind cycled through the options: 1) Give up all together.  2) Stay at the level I was as after all, there was no real need to progress, I was just doing it for my own personal growth.  3) Get up fighting and prove her wrong!

For about 48 hours those options ranked in that order and the 'low ball' that life had thrown at me, had not only put me on my bottom but I'd managed to get into quite a big dark hole too!

And life does this; I talk about this often with clients.  So time to be my own client and get out of that blinkin' hole!

The reality is, all of those options were viable.  There is no need to umpire netball. I earn next to nothing by doing it, but it keeps me fit and it is something I share with my daughter.  However, I can keep fit in other ways and there are plenty of ways I can spend time with Nadia.  By getting this higher level, it opens more doors to umpire higher level games, but none of these would be local so I'd be driving all over the South West if I wanted to walk through those doors. 

And then there was the third option!!

I have always been c##p at being told I could not do something.  My gym coach when I was just 10 found out the best way to get me to overcome a fear was to tell me that I was clearly too scared to do it so we'd do something else.  She'd then turn away and wait for me to 'prove her wrong!'  Quite a few years on, that characteristic is perhaps not quite so dominant, but evidently still there!

The thing that got me out of that hole was a motivation - in my case a motivation that isn't even particularly positive - I want to be able to 'virtually' stick two fingers up at this assessor and show her I am good enough.  That was enough of a motivation for me to scratch options 1 and 2 off of the list.  

And that is what I also do with most clients when they find themselves in a place they don't want to be - we find a motivation that gets them moving again.  When it comes to weight loss, that motivation may be health, it may be to like what they see in the mirror.  With flying phobias, it may be getting to see a relative who is abroad, or taking children to see just how big the world is.  With anxiety, it may be as simple as the desire to have a quiet mind that is not full of worry.

All that is required is a motivation that is strong enough to want to pick yourself up again.

And then when back on your feet (or even just peaking over the top of the black hole) it is about moving- taking that first step.

For me, the thing keeping me grounded for a while was the belief that I had done all I could and still failed.  One of my favourite sayings is: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  I could not see what I could do differently.  

So, if I couldn't see it, perhaps someone else could!  I made a few phone calls and sent out a few emails.  Nearly a week on from that and there are some different options coming onto the horizon and whilst I am not quite up and running yet and there is still a bit of mud on my knees from being in the hole, a route forward is starting to materialise.

From my story, there are two things I would love for you to take on board:

1.  Find your motivation.  There is ALWAYS something - even if it takes a bit of searching for.  It may be the carrot, it is often a stick, but there is something that you can use to motivate you to pick yourself up.

2.  Get help.  It is rather ironic that as a therapist who helps people, I am not good at asking for help.  However I did, and when you do, help is readily available - you just have to ask!

Please let me know in the comments box below what this story means to you and if I can help you, just ask!

Published by Caroline Cavanagh Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |


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