''William, I'm not angry with you, I'm disappointed'', my mother used to say when I had been out of line as a child.
Parents the world over know disappointment hurts, and it hurts really bad.
I was reminded of this recently when the youngest person I'm working with currently, a 10-year-old girl, shared her disappointment with me... I'll refer to her as Ella.
''So I took a test earlier this week, and, umm, well, I got 27 out of 40'', the young lady said, her eyes avoiding mine.
I let her continue.
''I haven't told Mummy and Daddy yet and, I'm annoyed and disappointed with myself because I know I could have done better, I made so many silly mistakes and all my friends did really well'.
I could hear the stress in her voice as she spoke, normally her voice is full of life and energy on this occasion it was different.
Once I was happy the little girl had offloaded how she was feeling and she felt I had listened to her attentively, I spoke.
I began by thanking her for opening up to me before saying ''The first thing I want you to do, Ella, is to forgive yourself''.
I told her it's so important that whenever we feel disappointed with ourselves for something, we forgive ourselves. Completely and quickly. I told her that us Adults have a hard time forgiving ourselves and if she could grow up with the habit of forgiving herself when feeling disappointed this will really serve her in life.
Ella smiled at me and exhaled a sigh of relief.
''I tried my best and Mummy and Daddy always say that trying my best is most important''.
''Mummy and Daddy are right'', I said.
We continued our call by looking through the questions she had got wrong in the Maths Sats paper. We agreed all the mistakes were fixable and it was silly little things like not reading the question properly and miscalculations. There was no judgment or negativity as we revisited the wrong answers, in fact, at times Ella was able to laugh at the errors.
I thought to myself 'She wouldn't have been able to laugh so easily now unless she had forgiven herself'.
She was ready for some Reflection questions:
'What could you learn from this experience'? I asked Ella.
'What will you do differently next time'?
'How can you make sure you won't make the same mistakes again'?
From these simple questions, Ella was able to come up with her own strategies for improving her test score. Ones that worked! The following week I was greeted on Skype by a big cheeky grin and some news. 'I got 38 out of 40 in this week's test'.
Conquer Disappointment with the acronym FAR.
Forgiveness and Reflection.
Now, I appreciate you're not a 10-year-old girl sitting her SATS but I believe us adults can also apply this simple process when faced with disappointments.
Forgive yourself quickly and completely. This allows you to reflect from a place of non-judgement so you'll be able to come up with a different solution or strategy to move forward.
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