By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer.
This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features an interview with Christine Hassler, life coach and the author of the new book “Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life.”
Q: Your new book is about resiliency and recovering from disappointments, something which I think entrepreneurs can really relate to. Some of us had to bounce back from getting laid off to start a company, and some of us have had to bounce back from business failures in order to succeed. What advice do you have for us, to better cope with these low points?
A: The secret to dealing with your expectation hangover is to take it one step at a time, starting with the emotional level, so I would say Step One is to let yourself grieve.
When you’re going through this emotional level of processing, reach out for support. You don’t have to go through it alone! Let yourself feel the feelings, to feel upset. Do some journaling and allow yourself to be human. Just don’t stay there for too long.
Here’s an excerpt from the book about one of my clients going through Step One:
“At forty-seven Jack was suffering an Expectation Hangover from a layoff, and an entrepreneurial experience that went sour had him panicked about his next step. After our first meeting I wondered whether he would come back to see me, as I was certain he left with an Expectation Hangover about our session. You see, Jack came in dead set on my helping him get his resume in order and “figure out” what he was going to do. He was tense, down, and rather short tempered. I told him I really could not help him until he dealt with some of his feelings about his Expectation Hangover, to which he responded, “I’m fine. I just need to get a job, and I’ll feel better.”
Yet I knew that emotional beach ball Jack was holding under water was preventing him from moving forward. Jack believed that coping strategies like being strong and distracting himself were better than feeling. I asked if he would be willing to do a specific kind of journaling that is a treatment tool on the emotional level (you’ll learn this tool a bit later), before our next meeting.
Reluctantly, he said yes. I gave him some sentence stems that I knew would trigger emotion and sent him on his way.
The next week, Jack reported that in his journaling, a lot of shame and sadness came up that he had no idea he was hanging on to.
The next few sessions were dedicated to giving Jack the space to express his feelings. He talked about the shame and intense sadness he felt over his perceived failure.
Tears ran down Jack’s face, and the gift of his Expectation Hangover was revealed. For the first time since he was a very little boy, he actually cried.
This release opened up so much space for Jack that he felt he got his confidence and energy back.”
Step Two is all about mental processing. Once you’ve really processed the emotions around the failure, it’s time to glean the lessons and insights from your experience. Here’s an exercise that can help build thoughts that move you forward, and toward investigation and prevention, instead of just rehashing things in your mind.
-Bring forward compassion and understanding toward yourself. Steer your thoughts toward investigation and away from self-judgment, and answer these questions:
-What did you learn about yourself?
-What did you learn about someone else or a situation?
-How would you like to behave differently in the future?
(And) based on what you learned, what commitment would you like to make to yourself about how you will respond in the future?”
And that leads right into Step Three, which is taking proactive steps to move forward, or what I call the behavioral level. And I like to look at this from two perspectives:
-What actions are you taking in relation to your overall well-being and how you can improve the choices you are making.
-What is driving your choices and how you can reorient the way you motivate yourself to take action.”
And remember, having expectation hangovers is a part of being an entrepreneur. The key to avoiding them is pursuing things with high involvement, but low attachment. And if you’re dealing with a disappointment in your life or your business, the way to get some peace is to focus on the immediate next steps, not necessarily the big picture. Entrepreneurs dream about the second floor, but sometimes we need to just look at the next step and putting one foot in front of the other.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur” and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.