How to remain calm when life slaps you with a setback
Whether it’s a serious setback like bad health news or getting laid off, to something more minor like your best friend not being able to make your coffee date or a project at work you poured your heart into delayed, disappointments inevitably happen.
And what comes with unexpected bad news? You got it, the antithesis’ to calm: Chaos and Overwhelm.
In my own life and helping my clients, I’ve found a specific process to moving through disappointment that allows me to honor my feelings without staying stuck in negativity and stress.
Sandra’s bad news
My client Sandra is a perfect example. She had worked hard applying for, interviewing, and putting her best self forward for the job of her dreams. She envisioned pouring coffee next to savvy, passionate coworkers she’d learn from every day. In her mind, she’d already put her family’s photos on a desk in a cubicle by the office window.
After a warm and successful last interview, she did her due diligence and followed up with a thank you.
Then she got an email, with the subject line, “Position news.”
This was it! Excitedly, writing her acceptance reply already in her head, she read words that didn’t seem to make sense. “Thank you for your time interviewing and being such a great candidate. After careful consideration, we’ve decided on a different candidate for this role. There’s no doubt you are so talented and will bring value to the company you work for in the future….”
Sandra’s eyes couldn’t even process the rest.
“What!? How?! But I did so well! I’m perfect for it! This must be a mistake. Now what??!” Disappointment, feelings of failure, and anger all coursed through her.
How could she take this news and go from chaos to calm?
For disappointments big or small, here’s the Own Your Calm process I use for all my clients and myself.
Own your calm process for disappointment
Feel your feelings, completely. Allow for the feelings of disappointment to exist and move through you. There’s no need to try to deny they’re happening. Whether you feel justified or not is not important. If your feelings exist, they are real. Let anger flush your face for a minute, it will pass. Grip your hands if you need to. Cry if you need to. Give yourself the time and the self-respect to honor how your heart feels about it. It may take a few minutes or a night to sleep on it.
Journal your feelings. As soon as you can, it’s helpful to write down all of your feelings and thoughts. Even if they’re untrue, unwarranted, or unkind, this writing is a process of release and is not meant to be re-read or shared. Thoughts are just thoughts and only when you attach meaning to them are they true. So, write without judgment or caring, cathartically letting it all out. A scream on the page. Writing also serves as a natural pathway to move from negative thoughts into a place of understanding and acceptance.
Get outside, do anything physical or take a walk. If you can go for a walk, changing scenery and energy is extremely helpful to break out of a chaotic, disappointed mindset and change your perspective.
Assess the implications. After you move through negative emotions, ask yourself: What are the real implications of this adjustment? Who does it affect? What do I need to shift or do next?
Accept. From a calmer state, after assessing all the implications of this news, try to keep the perspective of the bigger picture. When you look at it from a forest view, it may not be as devastating as you initially thought. Remind yourself that you’ve had disappointments and successfully managed through them before. For Sandra, she had completely forgotten the fact she had another interview lined up the following week and reminded herself she’s always landed on her feet before.
Find the gift. It may seem silly to “find the gift” in a heartbreak of any kind, but I promise there is always one. For Sandra, the gift of not starting what she thought was her dream job right away, meant she got to chaperone her kids’ field trips that week and catch up with her best friend before she moved across the country.
Shit happens. And we have no choice but to roll with it. Trying to do anything different will pretty much guarantee chaos and suffering.
Sandra followed the steps and guess what? She is thriving at her new position and never looked back.
Need help with owning your calm? I’m here.
Reach out, I’m here for you.