I recently entered a competition a bit like the Apprentice, much to my family’s horror. They were worried I would be torn to shreds and it would not be a positive experience. As it turned out, I didn’t get through to the next round of the competition, which was being run by the BBC.
I was disappointed the evening I found out – I won’t pretend otherwise, but I woke up the next morning, feeling remarkably comfortable and very cheery.
My response troubled me! I should have felt gutted….really disappointed….I had put many weeks work into the process, built up my hopes and sacrificed not an insignificant amount of money. I had pretended I didn’t really care, but I really did, so I was puzzled why did I feel so OK the next day.
I’ve had a couple of weeks to mull it over and I think it comes down to the fact, that for most people, disappointment is an emotion we find easier to deal with, than success. Yes we are very fond of disappointment, its like a comfortable pair of shoes.
I had supreme skills for dealing with disappointment. I had a well used script that has had constant use over the years, which goes “well it’s probably for the best…I tried my best didn’t I…I didn’t really expect to succeed…I’m just a housewife from Thornbury (yes that old chestnut)”
As children and young adults we learn very effectively to deal with disappointment. Our parents and others, try and protect us by saying things like “don’t get your hopes up” (Flashback to 1978 and my letter to Jim’ll Fix It which never got a reply). We also tend to look our parents and family and learn from their own disappointments and lack of fulfillment. We model disappointment.
We get to learn how to be and feel disappointed very very well but we don’t learn how to be comfortable with success.
Fear of success is often greater than the fear of failure…we have got the failure script sorted, but don’t have such well rehearsed scripts for success. Telling people we have done well, won something, got a great pay rise or created something we want to sing, about doesn’t trip of the tongue very easily. We don’t want to brag or feel we will upset someone. Success often feels uncomfortable in our bodies as well…and our bodies are more in charge of our actions than we would like to think!
So I was prepped for disappointment in this particular case. I tried hard, gave it my best and failed. It meant that I could move on really easily , which is healthy and useful in other ways…but this is only half the story……next time I’ll tell you why we must must must learn to be more comfortable with success!
(of course although I was disappointed, I have seen lots of positives since!)