Disappointment Can Be Useful

13th July, 2018 

I’ve just about got over the disappointment of Wednesday’s England loss to Croatia.  There’s no question that this sadness is shared by many and that we are all getting over it in our different ways.  It rather reminds me of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ line:

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

So basically, in object and material terms nothing very much changed or was at stake. Everyone knew England had a good chance of doing well, getting to the semi’s ticked that box but they didn’t do really, fabulously, brilliantly well, which is what we all hoped they would.   

 As Milton implies it’s all to do with a trick of the mind, either creating a heaven or a hell for ourselves.  He is probably implying that we can all be optimists or pessimists and in another line from him:

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”

there’s a suggestion that being without the joy of hope, i.e. hell, ensures a lot more control.  I personally prefer to be in my own heaven if hope, even if it’s only temporarily, as it was, is a wonderful thing. It was great to feel so happy and to be aware of the great joy everywhere that the England sides’ performance up to and including the quarter finals brought.

As someone who has worked with and for a lot of children and parents I am also very conscious that the positive expectations of the vast majority will have been a great lift for families in England.  It gave me and mine a good reason to get together in our shared support, joy then disappointment and just talking about our how we felt was helpful.

People need hope and optimism.  The world is such an uncertain and unpredictable place.  Expectations and hope for the future are what drive us on and help us to be resilient.  Yes I know the saying; “ If ifs and buts were pots and pans what a lot I’d have” but even so, although expectations don’t always match the reality, it’s worth it.  So what if for a short time I’m knocked off balance? It is a test of how resilient I am, how easily I can shrug off the disappointment and it is evidence that I feel, can hope and believe in the future. At times like this you have to focus on the positives, try hard not to sink discouraged, gain perspective and take a long view.

Dr Pippa Grange, the sports psychologist working with the England World Cup squad is quoted in the Guardian (12/7/2018) as saying:

In dealing with a negative event “the reflection component is critical. It allows people time and space to deal with that emotionally and be able to go back to what happened, to process it and be able to move on.”

She is also quoted in the article as saying that she thinks failure is really useful as the learning that results is what builds future success and greater achievement. I couldn’t have put it better.

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