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Overcoming Disappointment

By Jenna Moede

Even though I don't consider myself new to the military lifestyle, I still find curve balls hard to deal with. People say "it gets easier," but I have discovered that without a few coping mechanisms to overcome disappointment, it just seems to stay the same.  

I received a quick reminder of this over the spring and summer. My husband left for a retrain and we expected his follow-on orders before he left. We waited and waited, but they didn't come. He left for his retrain and again we waited and waited, and they didn't come.  

Finally we heard, but the news came as quite a surprise to us. He didn't receive orders to PCS. He had to return to the base we have already lived at for over 4.5 years.  

I have talked quite a lot about how to enjoy the base you live no matter where the location, but we really felt excited about experiencing something new. Needless to say, the news shocked and disappointed us.  

Luckily, I had a few tricks up my sleeve for dealing with this kind of disappointment because at the end of the day, even when you count on something, the military can deal you a totally different hand.  

First, I let myself think about my disappointment. I hear it all the time that in situations like this, you just have to let it go and forget it, but I like to think about what specifically disappoints me.  

I wanted to know if I felt sad because we had to stay in the same place, the weather, the location, the lack of new experiences, or whatever other reason because allowing myself to experience the disappointment helps me zero in on a couple of real and raw reasons that I feel let down.  

After I figure out exactly where the disappointment stems from, I make a plan. I take all of the negatives and find something good.  

Like this: we don't have a new location, but at least we know the best restaurants and have great friends that always want to go with us or we have hiked that trail a bajillion times, but at least we will finally have time to do it in the winter!  

I have found it incredibly helpful to spin the disappointment if not into a complete positive, at least into seeing a silver lining. Let me tell you, sometimes I have to really want to see it!  

Next, I take the thoughts that let me down the most, and I find new ways to satisfy those unfulfilled ideas.  

When we found out we would continue living at the current base, I felt the saddest because of, you guessed it, lack of new experiences. So, to overcome that, I had to think outside the box.  

I realized that we could finally do some of the activities that we always talked about that we had found too expensive when we first got married or that would have taken a three day weekend when I couldn't afford the time off.  

New experiences might not exist right at our fingertips but I know that if I look hard enough, I can always find them. Pinterest helps a little too... 

I also surprised myself when thinking about the new activities because I found myself getting really excited. I didn't think our area had anything excite-worthy left but those gems do still exist. 

Lastly, I remind myself that everything and anything can change. At the end of the day, what happens in our lives depends on the needs of the military at any given moment.  

While sometimes I find it really hard to avoid feeling upset when the sticks don't fall my way, I have to remind myself that anything can change. 

I can only control my attitude a lot of times, and I find that approaching any situation with optimism can really help to overcome anything that may not line up perfectly with my perfect ideas.  

I know that other events and situations will disappoint me in the future, but just as much as I feel disappointed, I feel excited even more often because the good situations really do overwhelmingly outweigh all the others. 

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