the root of crushing disappointment

You’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced it.

We’ve all gone through it…

That moment where something we wanted, wished for, hoped for with every ounce of soul we possess fails to happen.

Maybe it’s being passed over for a job you really wanted.

Maybe it’s hearing your manuscript was rejected.

Maybe it’s being turned down for a dinner date.

Whatever it is, it didn’t pan out… and then you’re left with this overwhelming, almost crushing sense of disappointment.

Which leads down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and despair.

Now, that’s entirely NORMAL, first and foremost.

You’re not alone in feeling that way, and no one expects perfection of you… so let’s get that out of the way.

And let’s get to the root of the problem (so you can find a way through it and move on)…

Attachment to the outcomes.

Even writing it sounds cold and clinical to me, but I think it’s something necessary to explore.

Because as a professional creative, there’s naturally a TON of attachment.

As a writer, I put a little piece of my soul on paper (or on the screen you’re reading).

That’s me there, in the words.

That’s you there, in the painting. Or in the photo. Or in the mockup of the landing page you just submitted.

When there’s a disconnect between what you’ve created and what you hoped someone would say about it… it can be like a gut punch.

They didn’t like the copy… they must not like me.

They didn’t hire me… must be something wrong with me.

They made me redo the entire portrait… they totally hate me.

When in reality, that’s rarely the case.

In fact, if someone doesn’t like you, it’s much easier for them to simply cut you off and never respond. Or be super mean.

It’s much harder to explain.

There are a million potential reasons why something didn’t go the way you wanted it to. I mean, there are already over 7 BILLION people on the planet, and each of us wants (sometimes) drastically different things.

It’s totally realistic to expect a mismatch in desired outcomes.

But when it really HURTS, it’s often because you’re super attached to the outcome.

And what does that even mean?

It means you’re trying to control something that’s beyond your control.

You can’t force the hiring manager to choose you.

You CAN control the amount of outreach you do.

You can’t force a client to sign a contract and make a deposit on your timeline.

You CAN have enough irons in the fire that one contract going through or not going through doesn’t kill your whole business. 

You can’t force someone to like your work.

You can ask them a ton of leading questions until you get useful feedback that will help you bring it into better alignment with the vision.

So when you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and like your soul is so crushed you might as well bust out the maple syrup (because it’s flat as a pancake… get it? GET IT?! Shut up.)…

It might be time to look at your attachment to the outcome.

Are you trying to control something you can’t?

If so, identify what you CAN control and go work on that.

2 Comments

  1. Lindsey Hayward on August 30, 2018 at 6:32 am

    It’s incredibly hard going through that kind of painful disappointment, and like you said — we all experience it at one time or another (…and another). But it’s so much easier to bear when you take the emotion of personal inadequacy out of the equation (or even look for proof of the opposite, like you mention when someone cares enough to explain).

    Thanks for sharing and caring, Angie!

  2. Chris on August 30, 2018 at 7:12 am

    Well done Angie! You’ve shown how to take the focus off self (wallowing) and move to the concrete of getting feedback to grow and improve. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (outcome); courage to change the things I can (change/improvement); and the wisdom to know the difference (sometimes you just have to shake the dust off your feet and move on). Thanks for sharing!

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