What to do with a “let down”

The world is filled with “let downs”, outcomes from events that had high hopes before turning south. These are the college rejection letters, lost job opportunities, the sales that fell through, the promotion that didn’t go your way, and the like. They often weigh us down more significantly and for longer than the flip side would have elated us, had we received the positive outcome we expected. It’s asymmetrical, in the WORST way possible.

There is good news. It’s mostly a choice. We’re all players in a game, and the game only stops when we allow it to. We choose how long to feel bad, and how long to let it drag us down. On the other side, we also choose how elated we feel when things go right.

If making “the choice” of how to feel, it may be difficult to overcome and process what happened. Here are three things to do:

  1. Call your friend, mentor or wife, and discuss what happened, and how you should interpret it. Is an outside observer feeling the same way about it? Don’t react much to what they say if it is more let down. Such as, “Well it may have been that you said…” coming out of their mouth.
  2. Think through what the real issue is. The other person doesn’t know what you know, they haven’t been through what you’ve been through, and communication is a tricky thing.
  3. Channel any frustration into productivity and generosity. For each “let down” there is an opportunity for salvage, learning or both. That college may reconsider if you call or write. Or the next one might accept you after adjusting the approach with what you’ve taken away from the experience. Or that sale might happen if you rethink how you pitched them, think about how it didn’t fit what they were thinking, and put in the effort to try again. Or it may just improve the pitch to the next customer. At the least an opportunity to improve always exists.

Anger and despair are choices. Turning a “let down” into generosity and improvement is a choice. If you flip a mostly empty bottle of water in the air, it wants to always land right side up, that’s due to it’s asymmetry of water distribution. You can make that same choice to always land right side up after a “let down”. If you decide not to, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why.