After a nail-biter of a game drawn out into extra time and penalties, England’s Three Lions have lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
It’s a heartbreaking result for the men’s team, particularly after Luke Shaw gave a spark of hope with an early goal.
England was eventually beaten 3-2 on penalties, with players and fans feeling the disappointment even more keenly after being so close to victory.
“Disappointment is inevitable – it’s going to happen at some point or at more than one point in all of our lives,” says Caroline Plumer, BACP accredited therapist and founder of CPPC London (cppclondon.com). However, you can use painful experiences and setbacks to help drive you on to bigger and better things in the future…
Let yourself feel it
“We’ve got a tendency with negative emotions to go one way or the other – to either try and avoid it completely and not feel it, or to wallow in it,” explains Plumer. “But there is a healthier middle ground whereby you acknowledge what you’re feeling without judging yourself – be kind to yourself – you let yourself feel it, without being sucked too deep into the depression and the darkness of it.
“Knowing it’s there and acknowledging it’s there is the first step.”
Put the experience into perspective
Once you’ve acknowledged what happened, you can start to rationalise it. Plumer says: “Depending on what it is, how much of a major problem is it really? Try not to personalise it. I think we’re very quick to blame ourselves for things and to internalise things.
“Disappointing things happen, it does not necessarily mean we are a disappointment. Was it something outside your control? Was it something you contributed to maybe only minorly? Was there perhaps actually nothing you could’ve done to avoid it? Is it about you or is it just one of those inevitable situations that are unavoidable?”
Learn from what happened
If we don’t learn from the setbacks in life, we’re unlikely to grow. Whether you were responsible for the situation or not, Plumer asks: “What can you take from it to do differently next time? What can you do to improve?”
Look at your wins
The therapist advises you “look at things that have happened recently or in the past that you’re really proud of, to try and reboost your confidence”.
She also urges you to “look at the wins within the disappointment. If you take the football as an example, I would say the wins there are we seem to now have a really cohesive team, a team that stands together in the face of things like racism as well as just on the pitch, and we played a clean game. They would be wins within what I appreciate is ultimately very disappointing, but there is still a lot to be taken from it.”
Try to have a positive mental attitude
Plumer warns against believing a disappointment has “undone all the other hard work you’ve already done… That’s not true: if you have one disappointment or one setback it doesn’t mean you’re back to square one.”
One thing she often sees in clients is “believing that one disappointment is going to spell several more”, which is “not necessarily true”.
Plumer accepts a positive outlook takes practise, and it’s naturally easier for some people. She encourages us to actively experience gratitude, as “that really has an effect on people’s positive mental attitude”.
She adds: “That’s not to say it’s appropriate all the time, sometimes people are having a legitimately awful time or something terrible has happened. But on the whole, most of us have got things we can be grateful for, and once people start opening their eyes to those [things], I do see a huge shift in how people feel.”