Last month I applied to the TLC Pen Factor writing competition run by The Literary Consultancy, one of the best Literary Agencies in the UK. A lot was hanging on it. I felt like I was giving my book the last shot.
Just before having the final look at the draft application, I realised that I wanted to win this competition against all odds. The old habit of forcing and pushing to get what I wanted kicked in. What’s more, even before I applied, I felt disappointed. It was as if from the outset disappointment was there to protect me from pain.
For years, I used to wear a mantle of disappointment in order to protect myself from bigger heartbreaks. If I told myself that I wasn’t going to win, I’d be less disappointed when I loose, right? No, it still hurts. In the past, I made it worse by beating myself up: ‘I knew I wasn’t going to win. Why did I bother to apply?’
Disappointment doesn’t save us from disappointment. It only multiplies as we unconsciously search for proof that in the end that’s exactly how we’ll feel anyway. I’m not an advocate for false positives and faked happiness. It doesn’t work. How you feel underneath that fake smile is what matters in the end. If we use disappointment as a shield, it needs addressing and clearing from our systems, because it can stop us from staying open to the outcome and saying ‘yes’ to opportunities.
Take this competition. My proposal made it into the top 10, but not into the final 5. I’m pretty sure that in the past I would have wallowed in self-pity and regret because I didn’t win it. Of course, there was a bit of disappointment because here I was in the top 10 again, but I quickly cleared the feeling by giving myself some compassion. Focusing on my heart centre and solar plexus, I spent about five minutes directing warm heart energy towards my being and saying phrases like these:
- I’m so sorry you didn’t win.
- I’m so sorry that you get so close to the finish line, but never cross it.
- I’m so sorry that you are disappointed.
- I’m so sorry that they rejected your work.
- I’m so sorry that they didn’t choose your proposal.
The list went on.
As soon as the feeling shifted, I felt uplifted. I even managed to view this outcome as a major achievement. Ok, I didn’t pitch live to a panel of agents and editors, but the agency said that my work was exceptionally strong and that they have forwarded it to two agents who are on the panel. So, something still may come out of this contest and, even if not, then my proposal is ready to be sent out to agents and publishers.
What do you do when a great opportunity presents itself to you? So let’s say you are applying for your dream job, submitting an application to a prestigious competition, or sending an e-mail to a well-known agent or publisher. How do you feel on the inside? Do you brace yourself against disappointment? Do you tell yourself: ‘Oh well, this is not going to work anyway, but I’m giving it a shot, just in case.’
Does this sound familiar? Please share with me in the comments box below.