How to Bounce Back From Disappointment

In order to develop the skill of resiliency, you must first shift perspective, focusing more on progress than perfection and on possibilities rather than problems. How can you use this experience to become a stronger athlete, to expand your capacity for dealing with adversity and disappointment?  

Many athletes admit that in retrospect, facing their most challenging disappointments and defeats has taught them valuable lessons and strengthened them mentally, physically and emotionally. The way you handle a setback or disappointment today affects your level of confidence and resiliency in future competitions.

Take a moment to honestly examine the roots of your disappointment. Is it based on the fear of disappointing others, losing respect or feeling embarrassed? Have you placed too much emphasis on this aspect of your life so that your self-identity and self-worth is reliant upon successful outcomes?

And finally, it is important to accept ownership of any mistakes or weaknesses that may have contributed to a less than ideal performance. If we are to reach our goals, we must first acknowledge what went wrong, what part we played in that and what we can do in the future to correct or strengthen those areas.

Remember, everyone fails now and then, and even failure can be perceived as a success if it results in personal growth. Most importantly, commit to applauding yourself when you respond to setbacks like a champion.

Ask Cheryl

Q: I had hoped to win my age group at our local half Ironman but failed miserably, finishing last in a field of 23. It was so embarrassing, and I keep replaying it over and over in my mind. I'm not sure if I have what it takes to try again.

A: One of the saddest and most common issues I face when working with clients is helping to dust off and cheer up an athlete who is beating himself up after a disappointing competition. The sad part is that most of the time, these athletes had no clear personal goal set prior to the event, but somehow believed that they would perform well by simply willing it on race day.

It is essential that you first define exactly what success and failure mean to you. Rather than base this on "winning," determine a personal time goal that is measurable. You cannot control how your competitors perform, but you can aspire to achieve your own standard of excellence.

Cheryl Hart, M.S., owner of 2nd Wind Motivation and Hart to Heart Talk Show, helps individuals, teams and businesses establish and achieve goals. She is a sport psychology consultant, motivational speaker and instructor of Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of Louisville. She holds a Master's degree in sports psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.A. from Centre College, where she competed in and coached cross country. She was recently inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. Cheryl has run 45 marathons and is an All-American triathlete and duathlete, competing internationally on Team USA with podium finishes She has received numerous awards, including National Inspirational Athlete, Kentucky's NCAA Female Athlete of the Year, SCAC Runner of the Year and SCAC Coach of the Year. Cheryl conducts sessions face-to-face or via phone nationwide. Call (502) 693-7443 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE (502) 693-7443 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, e-mail or visit

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