Bouncing Back from Disappointment and Criticism I Oxford Open Learning

Bouncing Back from Disappointment and Criticism

According to the American Psychological Society, resilience means ‘bouncing back’ from challenges. So ask yourself, when faced with disappointment or criticism, how do I cope? Do I spring back into action or dwell on the negatives? Do I complain or carry on striving for success? How resilient am I?

If you are not sure you can answer such questions all too positively, then I have some advice that may be worth reading…


Like many people, you probably tend to forget about the difficulties you have overcome in the past. You may have handled academic challenges working in a difficult space before, yet still gained good marks. Remember them. Also, take a few minutes to jot down five challenges you have overcome. Your list could be a helpful reminder of how you have been able to handle difficulties in the past.


Simplifying means that you avoid frittering time away. You do less with more attention. As a result, you become more grounded and are able to focus wholeheartedly on the things that matter.


When we receive some criticism or negative feedback from others, most of us become angry and react in the heat of the moment (and often regret it). What you need to do is respond, because there is a difference between reacting and responding. When you respond, you pause first, then ask yourself this question: ‘Is there a hint of truth in what the other person is saying?’ If so, you can use the criticism to improve your skills. If not, you can let those comments go and dust yourself off. It probably wasn’t meant to hurt you.


When you spend too much time in front of a screen (e.g. smart phone, laptop, PC, TV), you can easily become irritable and mentally tired. You might mindlessly browse online and waste hours not noticing the time. The more you are physically and mentally recharged, the easier you will handle disappointments. Make sure that you regularly spend time outdoors. Walk wherever you can. The fresh air will clear your head and will help you maintain your wellbeing.

You will be able to bounce back from disappointments easier when you are refreshed and energised. So remember: take some time out to reflect, simplify things and recharge.

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Henrietta Nagy is a seasoned portfolio worker with over 10 years’ experience in the UK education sector. Henrietta writes educational content, designs academic courses, delivers university lecturers, mentors entrepreneurs, and provides career development coaching. With 9 years of higher education studies internationally (including an MBA), she has worked with CEOs, academics, scholars, managers, women entrepreneurs, academic administrators, and other consultants.

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