Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Be Happier! 5 Steps to Bounce Back after a Let Down

By Lisa Sansom on Mar 14 2011 • Filed under Balance

Be Happier at Work!

When you are working, and encounter a difficulty or an unexpected obstacle, how do you react? Do you let things get to you down, or do you bounce back right away?

Here’s an imaginary scenario – how would you respond?

You put in hours of work, writing and research into an amazing business proposal. You present it to a client with whom you are very familiar. You have done some little projects for them over the past few years, but now they have asked you for something bigger – a clear signal that they value your work and want to take your professional relationship to the next level. Your research is impeccable. Your presentation is highly practiced. You are on top of your game!

A few days later, you get the email: sorry, not interested. It seems that they liked your presentation and appreciated all of the time and effort you put into it, but it’s not quite the direction they wanted to go in at this time.


a)    Get depressed.

b)    Immediately delete the email and remove them from your client roster forever.

c)    Beat yourself up, wondering if you’re even good enough to work at all.

d)    Move on – there are other clients out there, and maybe you’ll continue doing some smaller things for that one in the future.

Resilience – the ability to bounce back from adversity – is a highly sought-after professional characteristic. While all of the above are natural reactions, clearly (d) is the healthiest, but it’s also the hardest to come by.

Some people seem to have natural resilience; they bounce back easily and nothing seems to bring them down. There is some research to show that about one-third of people have “won the cortical lottery” as Jonathan Haidt puts it in his book The Happiness Hypothesis. But what about the other two-thirds of us? Especially if that includes you?

Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté, in their book The Resilience Factor, outline a series of steps that you can take to become more resilient when faced with adversity. These steps can be learned, regardless of your natural optimism level, although it does take practice. The model is called ABCDE.

A is for “Adversity”

The A is for “Adversity” or “Activating event.” What was it that happened? Outline the facts of the situation. If you had video-recorded the situation, what would everyone see and agree on? So for example, everyone would agree that you received the email, and everyone would agree to the words that were on the screen. However, to say that the email was haughty or dismissive or abrupt is all open to interpretation. The A is all about the facts: the who, when, what and where of the situation.

B is for “Beliefs”

Stemming from those facts, we arrive at the B – the “Beliefs” that you hold about the A facts. This is where your opinion comes in. You believe that the email was abrupt. You believe that your report was misinterpreted. You believe that they are deliberately being short-sighted or cheap.

C is for “Consequences”

Your beliefs then give rise to C – the “Consequences.” What do you feel and how do you behave as a result? All of the options given in the multiple choice above are examples of consequences. And it’s important to consider the feelings as well. Remember that feelings are emotion words – not “I feel that they are being stuck in a rut” but “I feel angry” or “I feel upset.”

So now we’ve identified the ABC. This means that we know the sort of dumps we are in – but we still don’t have a ladder out. That’s where the D and E come in.

D is for “Disputation”

The D is the “Disputation”: check in on your B. What are other beliefs that you might hold? Are your beliefs founded on solid ground? Back to our example – perhaps the email sender is embarrassed or sad at having to send you that email, hence the shortness of the message. Perhaps there has been a change in the client’s situation since you presented to them. There are any number of other beliefs that are possible, and the more you can come up with, the more open you will be to coming up with other feelings and actions as a result.

E is for “Energization”

Finally, the E is about “Energization.” Having more options is positively energizing. When we get down in the dumps, we get ourselves into a rut and a narrow focus. But when we create more options and opportunities for ourselves, we broaden our scope and perspective, and that allows us to create the ladder that gets us out of the dumps.

1 Comment

  1. Wow this is my second article I’ve read hear and it has truly been a blessing! thanks for posting of Face Book!

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