Darren Lawrence

How do you deal with disappointment?

Like most of the country I am, in football parlance, gutted. But let’s put this into perspective – 208 countries applied to be part of the 2018 World Cup, and 32 qualified for the Finals. When the tournament started, England were ranked 12th in the world, so even if a 4th place finish is how it all ends, there is little doubt that our team has exceeded expectations.

That’s the measured, sensible way of looking at it. As a football fan and having got so close to the World Cup Final, of course there is huge disappointment. A feeling that we could’ve and should’ve beaten Croatia. I’ve not travelled this time, but I have been to watch England in past tournaments in 2004, 2006 and 2016 and I still remember the tears of grown men and women sat in the stands following previous defeats. Given the sacrifices they have made (not to mention the expense), those supporters possibly feel the disappointment more, but I think we all do – the diehard fans that have followed the team for years as well as the newcomers watching their first World Cup. Certainly the players do too, and that was clear to see after the final whistle last night.

That familiar emptiness I felt after the game got me thinking about disappointment, and how we deal with it, in life in general – whether football or anything else. Think back to a time or times in your life when you were disappointed, as a child or now as an adult. For me, I can remember occasions when I didn’t get the job/girl/exam results/house I wanted. How did I deal with it? Well, I think initially by looking at the bigger picture in terms of my life as a whole. In this case, first of all it’s only football (I used to seriously dislike it when anyone said this). But now I recognise that football, although important to many people, and to me, it really isn’t the be-all-and-end-all.

Some other steps I have consistently taken to deal with disappointment include the following:

  1. Acceptance – initially the hardest thing. We don’t want to believe what has happened, especially if out of our control… ‘I can’t believe it!’ Give yourself some time to come to terms with what has happened, and experience the low feelings. Depending on the situation you may be experiencing emotions similar to a grieving process.
  2. Gratitude – be grateful for the good things that have happened. In this case, our football team took us on a remarkable journey which included some memorable moments.
  3. Moving on – by immersing ourselves in something else, and/or finding something to look forward to, we can move on from the disappointment we feel around whatever it is. Call it a distraction tactic, if you will!
  4. Staying positive – the chances are that there will be another opportunity to achieve or obtain what it is you are disappointed about – it is very likely that there will be another job/girl/exam/house, and World Cup (2022)! Qatar, anyone?

Our feelings come from our thinking, and thoughts are similar to the weather, they are changeable. So, chin up. Think back to your expectations before the first game against Tunisia (remember that far back?). I imagine you were not thinking about us reaching the semi final (I wasn’t!). We have a fairly young team, we’ve found a manager we can trust in and respect. The team has reconnected with the country and brought us together.

And life goes on. In a week, it will feel different to how it feels now. In a month, club football will be centre stage again. In a year, some of the pain will have gone and we’ll look back with pride at what our team achieved.

It’s coming home, just not quite yet.

How do you deal with disappointment? Can you relate to the steps above or do you have other effective ways of dealing with unsatisfactory events and moving on? I would be interested in your thoughts below.