Most of us face times in life when we’re disappointed, but I wonder if, like me, you’ve ever really stopped to think about the word ‘disappoint’ itself?
In one, now archaic, use of the word, it meant quite literally the opposite of ‘appoint’.
You’d appoint someone to the office of chief cook and bottle-washer, but then might ‘disappoint’ them, removing them from their job, perhaps because they’d made burnt the cakes and smashed the bottles.
Nowadays of course we’re more likely to use the word to describe a failure to fulfil expectations.
(I was bitterly disappointed that, once again, they failed to draw my numbers in the Lottery.)
As I say, there will always be disappointments in life, and we start experiencing them at an early age: the first time we don’t win the egg-and-spoon race, or we do less well than hoped in a spelling test.
However, while disappointment is never pleasant, facing up to it and overcoming it helps to build your resilience in the same way that a young boxer gets stronger by learning to absorb punches, or a fledgling ballerina grins and bears the pain of dancing ‘en pointe’ in her formative years.
Although nobody can really tell us how to be resilient, we can look back at our lives to identify what’s worked in the past.
How did you cope?
What strategies did you use, even though almost certainly they won’t have seemed as formal as ‘strategies’ at the time?
Look at others, too.
Who has dealt with adversity in a way that has inspired you?
Maybe you can learn from them, and adopt some of their techniques?
It’s important to remember that working through bad times gets you beyond them (a favourite Churchill quote: ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’) but also the very process makes you stronger, so that perhaps it won’t hurt quite as much next time.