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Two Reframes: On Slowing Down & Coping With Disappointment

This blog post was originally shared via email as one of my Slow Letters. Sign up to receive those here.

January has been a slow emergence for me. I’ve been very busy with client work, teaching, and planning some exciting new things for Wellspring, so everything else has taken a bit of a back seat in order to give me the space to move slowly this January. 

I want to share two things with you today about (1) slowing down and (2) coping with disappointment that I hope will offer you a different and more supportive way of approaching these experiences. These ideas both originated from discussions that came up in my membership community, Wellspring, over the past couple of weeks, and they were both so impactful to me that I needed to share them here.

Slowing Down = Removing The Rush

I’ve been talking about slowing down and seasonal living for a while. It’s such an important part of my own mental and emotional well-being and self-care. And yet, when we use language like “rest” and “slowing down”, many of us make the assumption that this must mean doing nothing. We had a call in Wellspring the other day to unpack and explore all of these ideas and it was so useful for all of us to get some clarity about how we actually define “slowing down”. 

We came to the conclusion that slowing down isn’t necessarily doing nothing, or lying on the couch and watching Netflix all day (although it certainly can be!). A more practical and attainable view of slowing down on a daily basis is this: slowing down is reducing our sense of urgency. When we slow down, we remove the rush from the situation. 

I shared above that over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a sense of slowing down within me, and yet, when I reflect on that time I realize I’ve actually been doing so many things. How does this check out? I’m coming to understand that for me slowing down has, at least in part, been a mindset shift. I’ve shifted from rushing between tasks, trying to get them all done as quickly as possible, to actually being really present with whatever I’ve been doing, and not putting any sense of urgency on myself. This has meant shifting some of my expectations about what gets done in a day, and being okay with not getting everything done, but it’s made such a difference to let myself be busy and slow at the same time.

Of course, slowing down absolutely will sometimes still look like lying on the couch and doing nothing. I, for one, managed to crush the entire first season of Cheer in one weekend recently. But if you struggle with this concept, as I do sometimes, then here’s my suggestion for you: 

What if you made slowing down just about reducing the rush? 

You can slow down while you’re running, if you approach it from a mindset of not having to squish it in between tasks and get onto the next thing as quickly as you can. You can slow down while you’re doing chores, if you remove the urgency. You can slow down while you’re working if you let yourself take breaks between tasks to pause, check-in, and take a few breaths. 

Alright, now let’s take a jump in an entirely different direction and talk about disappointment.

Disappointment Is On The Grief Spectrum

As I already mentioned, this is also a conversation that originated in Wellspring (where we talk about all the juicy things). In one of the coaching sessions I provide there, someone asked a brilliant question about disappointment – how to cope with it when we struggle to validate that feeling, or others around us tell us we’re just throwing ourselves “a pity party”. 

Here’s the thing – disappointment is on the grief spectrum. We feel disappointment when we have lost something, even if that something is an idea, a dream, a desire, or a hope we had. When something doesn’t work out the way we wanted, we still experience it as a loss. So the process for moving through disappointment is actually in line with how we would process grief – we need to validate the loss we experienced for ourselves, and allow ourselves to feel the sadness that arises. 

To be clear, I’m not saying that disappointment is necessarily experienced at the same intensity as grief, but these feelings occur on a spectrum. And while the severity of the emotional response of disappointment may be less significant than grief, it presents in similar ways. When we can recognize this, it becomes easier to respond to disappointment and to validate our experience of this. 

How would you respond to your disappointment differently if you gave yourself permission to honour it as a miniature form of grief? 

Next time you feel disappointed, try this. Say to yourself, “My disappointment is a form of grief. I have experienced a loss. This feeling is valid, and I will let myself feel this grief and sadness.” 

Disappointment typically also requires us to pivot, change our plans, or take next steps in a different direction, but make sure you are doing this without bypassing the grief feelings connected to it, because that feeling of sadness is absolutely valid. 

That’s all I have for you today. I hope these two little nuggets about slowing down and coping with grief offer useful reframes for you in your own life.

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