Bouncing back isn't the easiest thing.
And it's not something we seem to talk about a whole lot. We tend to emphasize the highs, skip sharing the lows, and stay engaged in a never-ending competition to prove we're doing at least a little bit better than the next person.
So when we have a conversation that doesn't at all match our pre-set expectations, the feeling of disappointment can feel like a bit more than a let-down.
It can feel like a personal failure.
How could I not have know that was going to happen?
Why didn't I say that differently?
Why did I share more than I wanted to?
What am I supposed to do now? Pretend nothing ever happened?
So. Let's talk about about Finding Dory. (I know that was a hard left. Stay with me.) Do you remember that scene where the blue squid appears, and that Big Terrifying Eye zeroes in on Dory and her crew? In that moment, it feels like nothing in the world could possibly be worse. Like all that's wrong in the world is focused on them.
Sometimes, we're our own Big Eye. To punish ourselves for a disappointing conversation, we turn the Big Eye of Judgment on ourselves.
You should have known.
You shouldn't have said that.
You have to try harder.
You should just stop trying.
Once should shows up, that's usually a sign that we've activated our Big Eye. That we've moved from learning, discovery, healing, and growth, to beating up on ourselves because we're afraid we won’t be able to figure out how to bounce back.
It’s not just you. I can't tell you how often disappointing conversations have left me feeling like bouncing back might be impossible.
But part of the gift of wading through the pain of disappointment is the chance to discover that our disappointment isn't the destination - it's just one very important step along the path.