Facing reality can feel scary. Our main and probably most important goal is often to just feel okay. Knowing that things aren’t falling apart is what gives us comfort, confidence and motivation. When we’re faced with criticism, we can start to feel overwhelmed with negative emotions; we could feel disappointed and inadequate. There are multiple ways to deal with disappointment and criticism, but not all are equally as effective and/or healthy. The most common strategy is by far self-deception.
Self-deception is the enemy.
Self-deception, simply, is the idea of creating a false reality by denying the truth and blaming what happened on someone else. The reasoning behind it is to create a reality we’re comfortable with, instead of facing the uncomfortable truth.
This is an extremely unsustainable and unhealthy way to deal with disappointment because it doesn’t fix the problem, it sweeps it under the carpet. There are three easier and more useful coping strategies.
Create a plan.
Having a plan can help you prepare for the different outcomes of a situation, so that you can be ready to accept them. When approaching situations, we may tell ourselves “It’s no big deal to them, their reaction would probably be positive” to get ourselves to avoid confrontation. Make sure to check-in with yourself to identify any misleading thoughts.
Try planning your speech before having a difficult conversation with someone or coming up with solutions for possible problems. Regardless of the outcome, it’s always better to know than to assume.
Observe the silver lining.
Every mishap has a silver lining. Even the toughest of situations can teach us the most valuable things about ourselves. Keeping this in mind can help you accept reality easier and be open to the new beginnings the disappointment can bring.
Remember that it’s not about convincing yourself that the whole incident was a silver lining, it’s more about realizing that the silver lining is good enough for you to accept what happened.
Modify as you go.
Self-deception can also make its way into our goals, centering them around our ego and self-esteem. This can be narrowing to our perspective and make it more difficult for us to face changes and disappointments. It can be changes in the simple, short-term goals or a grand change in the main goal itself. This goes from the point of having a discussion, a career shift or even setting new habits.
Modifying your goals when presented with new information can make tomorrow an exciting challenge, rather than a day you’re afraid to live.