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Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Disappointments and Life Lessons

Written at the end of 2011, this article has been updated December 21, 2016.

Last week I focused on Jinny Ditzler's "Best Year Yet!" question number 1 concerning this past year: "what did I accomplish?" This week I want to consider Jinny's second and third questions:

  • What were my biggest disappointments?
  • What did I learn?

What were my biggest disappointments?

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal;
it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. -- Eliza Tabor (author)

One of the reasons I like Jinny's program is the way she frames her questions. Jinny asks us to list our biggest disappointments. Notice that she did not ask us to list our failures. The word failure drips negativity and finality, whereas disappointment sounds, well, disappointing and transient. I would have trouble facing a failure. I would have to wade through a lot of psychological swamps in order to make sense of a failure, if I could even get myself to the point where I could consider the failure. So much negative stuff accompanies a failure: the impact on one's self esteem, the sense of rejection, and our perceived self worth or value. To me the word failure looks remarkably like a closed door that says, "Stop! Don't go in here! Your worst self is in here, and it isn't pretty!" I do not want to deal with failure. I cannot take a failure in stride.

I can, however, face a disappointment. I can consider all sides of a disappointment. I can learn from a disappointment. To me the word disappointment resembles a door left ajar. I can close it, walk through it, or even poke my head around the open edge without ever taking a step beyond the door sill.

Sometimes what holds us back from achieving our full potential is our refusal or inability to let go of our disappointments and open the door all the way. By asking us to examine our disappointments in the full light of day, Ms. Ditzler asks us to "[s]top trying to drive with your hands on the rear-view mirror!" We cannot change the past. The past is done, finished, unchanged. If we look back at it and refuse to let go of it, we will keep ourselves tied to the past. We cannot live in the present or look to the future when we spend our time looking backwards.

Rather than look in the rear view mirror, Jinny asks us to consider our disappointments in order to change the effect our disappointments have on us. Jinny's question two is the next step to deal with the negative aspects of our past and to refocus on living in the present. Jinny gives us three possibilities to deal positively with negatives from our past:
  • Forgive
  • Forget
  • Learn
To forgive is a difficult task for many people, whether it is to forgive others or to forgive oneself. To forget may be difficult too, although the act of acknowledging or naming a particular disappointment may be enough to release the disappointment's hold over us. Jinny suggests that the best way to deal with disappointments of the past is to learn from them, and this is Jinny's third question.

What did I learn?
Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the oracle process all begins. 
 -- Jim Rohn (entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker)
Now the fun begins. Look over your list of accomplishments and disappointments and reframe them as lessons you have learned or a lesson you could learn. In order to keep my focus on this task, I maintain a "Life Lesson" journal. My journal is merely a simple composition book with the title "Life Lessons." I see it every day but I do not always write in the book on a daily basis. Still, because I see the book every day, I am reminded to think about my life and my activities with this perception: what life lessons can I learn from my daily life experiences?

I actually enjoy sitting down for a minute while I wait for my morning coffee to finish brewing or dripping. I cast my mind over the previous day and look for a nugget to transform into a life lesson. Some people advocate writing a life lesson or a list of things to be grateful for at the end of the day when the activities are freshest in our minds. I have trouble remembering to do that at the end of the day when my energy level seems to be at its lowest. Instead, I enjoy contemplating a new day with the activity of transforming the previous day into a life lesson sound bite. The positive aspect of this activity sets the tone for the beginning of my day.

As we think about our accomplishments and the lessons we learned, we can be objective about the skills, attitudes, and behaviors we already have and what we might lack to achieve or improve ourselves in more ways. Jinny then provides us with some steps to help us turn our life lessons into personal guidelines and ultimately into instructions to follow in the coming year.

If you are interested in exploring more of Jinny Ditzler's program for the best year yet, click on the book link below (affiliate link):

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird


  1. What, if any, experience do you have with perfection pegs, and what is your opinion of them? I picked up an instrument recently that has such pegs, and I absolutely cannot get the instrument to tune. Everywhere I look, people are raving over these pegs, but I cannot stand the things!!! Is something wrong with my pegs, or am I just not doing it right?

  2. Actually, I have zero experience with them. I'll look into it and post something about it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Meanwhile, here are some links to discussions about these pegs:

    Many comments suggest that the pegs work alright in the beginning and then slip. There are arguments both ways. I think I prefer the traditional way myself. I use peg compound when changing my strings, and that seems to take care of "sticking" and "slipping" problems in general. The violist in my quartet has tuners on all 4 strings for fine tuning.

  4. Thanks! I'll look forward to finding something out about them. I am three hours from a violin shop, so I can't just take it in to get them looked at. The instrument is pretty useless with those pegs. (A few strings work, but the others don't)

  5. That's what I've heard so far. There are two arguments going around: yay and nay. If you aren't close to a shop, I would vote nay and stick with the tried and true regular pegs. I use peg compound when I change my strings, so I don't have much difficulty with sticking or slipping in general no matter what the weather change. Thanks for writing.