Dealing With Disappointment
Finding it hard to get over a failed love interest? Just can't get details of a bad financial move out of your head? Do you go over a bad experience over and over again? There is a simple activity that has been shown to make a significant difference to how you feel.
A study from the Rotman School of Management
suggests you might want to stick something related to your disappointment in a box or envelope if you want to feel better. In four separate experiments
researchers found that the physical act of enclosing materials related to an unpleasant experience, such as a written recollection about it, improved people's negative feelings towards the event and created psychological closure. Enclosing materials unrelated to the experience did not work as well.
"If you tell people, 'You've got to move on,’ that doesn't work," said Dilip Soman, who holds the Corus Chair in Communication Strategy at the Rotman School and is also a professor of marketing, who co-wrote the paper with colleagues Xiuping Li from the National University of Singapore and Liyuan Wei from City University of Hong Kong. "What works is when people enclose materials that are relevant to the negative memories they have. It works because people aren't trying to explicitly control their emotions."
So, give it a try. Write down the disappointment on a sheet of paper. Don't restrict what you write - no one else is going to see it - then seal it in an envelope.
Do you have photos or letters or other items associated with a disappointment? then box them up.
What to do next? This research only looks at the physical act of enclosing something, but you may want to burn or throw away the envelope or box either immediately or at some later date.