Dealing with Disappointment

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Disappointment. It's uncomfortable and is something that all of us will have to deal with at some stage in our lives. It makes us feel a multitude of other subset emotions like anger, hurt, sadness, and more than likely a few more others too subtle to identify. Although feeling disappointed doesn’t feel great, it can work out in the short-run to be advantageous to us. Unfortunately, most people don’t see it that way.

When we feel disappointed, it usually comes from having a high expectation that something will work out in your favour or go your way, and it doesn’t. Or it comes from feeling defeated that you didn’t achieve something you set out to do. It can be hard to get out of a disappointment slump. But once you realise that you can learn from disappointment, it can actually be an incredibly powerful emotion that can help clarify your personal expectations, paving the way forward towards the attainment of your goals.

Learning to deal and interpret disappointment in the right way is incredibly beneficial. As disappointment is an emotion, acknowledging that it is only temporary, and reflecting on it helps us gain clarity as to why we feel this way.

There is an easy process to learn how to deal with disappointment:

Acknowledge how you feel about a situation

How do you openly and honestly feel about the situation? Hiding your disappointment will only keep you stuck in the disappointment slump. Ask yourself:

What really happened here?

What should’ve happened?

Why am I feeling disappointed about this?

Clarifying why exactly you’re feeling disappointed will help you to better understand your thoughts and expectations.

Question your expectations

More often than not, we predispose our disappointment of a situation by the thoughts and expectations we initially had going into it. Having high expectations of something out of our control or of ourselves, that weren’t flexible or realistic enough, will always determine how we feel after events have taken place. Ask yourself:

What were my expectations of this circumstance or of myself?

What were my expectations of other people?

Were my expectations selfish, realistic, narrow-minded, or inflexible?

If for example, you had no expectations at all going into a situation, you wouldn’t have been disappointed as you naturally see the situation for what it is, and the best path moving forward.

Take time to learn from the experience

Maybe things aren’t what they seem, and perhaps your disappointment is just an illusion? The moment your challenge yourself to think honestly and openly about a situation, you gain clarity of what actually is. You learn to view things from a new perspective and see new possibilities, what not to do next time, and how to change your approach to things that are out of your control.

Modify your expectations, objectives and goals of yourself and those around you

Say you set a goal that initially aimed a little too high or an unrealistic time frame thus preventing you from achieving it. You may have felt disappointed, right? By modifying your goal or objective to a realistic timeline or target you can work towards will naturally adjust your expectations. It will be achievable and you will not be left feeling disappointed.

Once you hit the mark, next time around you can then raise the bar higher.

Disappointment is something we will all inevitably face. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, all at once, when you least expect it. Learning to minimise your disappointments starts with taking into account what could go wrong as you progress towards your goals.

Remember, it's not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you respond to the disappointments that life throws your way.