How to Recover More Quickly from Disappointment / by Amy DeRosia

Yes, if we care enough and dare enough, we will experience disappointment. But in those moments when disappointment is washing over us and we’re desperately trying to get our heads and hearts around what is or is not going to be, the death of our expectations can be painful beyond measure.
— Brene Brown

When you're learning something new or out of your comfort zone, eventually you're going to fall down. I had a moment like this recently and was reminded of how terrible it feels-even when you are fully aware of how useful failure is.

The word failure is imperfect. Once we begin to transform it, it ceases to be that any longer. The term is always slipping off the edges of our vision, not simply because it’s hard to see without wincing, but because once we are ready to talk about it, we often call the event something else- a learning experience, a trial, a reinvention- no longer the static concept of failure.
— Sarah Lewis

When we find the courage to put ourselves in situations where we fail more, we continue to grow and learn. But we also need ways to help us get back up after the fall.

In Brenè Brown's most recent book, Rising Strong, she does a great job of talking about what she calls "facedown" moments- failure, disappointment, shame, etc. One practical suggestion to help us learn the lessons from our failure is to write about them.  Using short writing exercises can help us discover new insights about our experiences.

Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are- our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.
— James Pennebaker

She mentions a researcher from the University of Texas at Austin, James Pennebaker, who has studied the benefits of short bursts of writing in the healing process. His work shows that processing your uncomfortable emotions through writing for 15-20 minutes a day can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and improve your immune system in as little as 4 days.

Brene suggests two sets of prompts to work through your "facedown" moments. In this first set you want to make sure you don't censor yourself. Write down your actual reaction- not how you think you should respond.

First draft thoughts:

The story I'm making up-

My emotions-

My body-

My thinking-

My beliefs-

My actions-


Once you've got your initial thoughts on paper, you can go a little deeper or as she calls it "rumble" with a second set of questions.

"The Rumble" Process:

1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?

What do I know objectively?
What assumptions am I making?

2. What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?

What additional information do I need?
What questions or clarifications might help?

3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

What's underneath my response?
What am I really feeling?
What part did I play?

This specific method may be too rigid for you. But I hope you find a daily practice that helps you make brave choices.


P.s. Brené Brown is offering some classes now on her new site, Courage Works, about applying her research to everyday life -including a free class on the Anatomy of Trust.