Most of us will come up against disappointments, both big and small, as we journey through life. Often we choose to complain to anyone who will listen, or to blame others when things don’t go our way.
It’s important to acknowledge our disappointments and not just shove them under the table, and to maybe examine why we had certain expectations.
I firmly believe that our feelings are our own responsibility and that no-one else can make us feel good or bad. It is our reaction to other people and situations that determines how we ultimately feel. But how can we learn to deal with disappointment in an effective and constructive manner?
Coping with Disappointment
The first thing you need to do in learning to deal with disappointment is recognize your coping mechanisms. Everybody has their own way of dealing with events and situations – their self-medicating strategies. For example do you reach for food, (chocolate, ice-cream, cake); alcohol, (get drunk and try to forget); take yourself off somewhere to hide, (under the duvet), or indulge in a spot of retail therapy, (credit card blow out)?
These strategies may make you feel better temporarily but rarely get to the root of the problem and often will bring new issues to give you grief, such as being overweight, in debt, or lonely. And then the cycle will start again ……
So how about breaking that cycle and developing some new strategies?
5 tips for effectively dealing with disappointment:
1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. You can honestly express the emotions you’re feeling without blaming or punishing others. This is about how you feel about the situation, not other people. Articulate your feelings without attacking others. Always be respectful, but don’t be afraid to let them know how you feel.
• There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel.
Your feelings are valid and if you don’t voice your opinion then you’ll harbour resentment and stress yourself out. Be honest with yourself about how you really feel about the situation. If you don’t have another individual to talk to, then journal your feelings. In some way or another get them out and expressed.
2. Put things in perspective. Even small disappointments can seem monumental at first, especially if we have built up our expectations. But once you’ve expressed your hurt, frustration, or anger, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How much of an effect is this disappointment going to have on you tomorrow, next week, or next year?
• Take a deep breath, go for a walk, or go do something different for a few minutes and try to put your disappointment into perspective.
Taking time to reflect and step away from the situation will help calm your thoughts and emotions so you’ll be better able to handle the disappointment.
3. Refuse to doubt yourself. Sometimes disappointment can make you feel like a failure. You may wonder why these things happen to you or you may think you were stupid to get your hopes up in the first place. But none of that is the truth. Don’t allow yourself to give in to these negative thoughts!
• Disappointment is not unique to you.
Everyone has been disappointed at some time in their life. Instead of putting yourself down, think about what could have been done differently and learn from the experience.
4. Look for a solution or compromise. Things may not always turn out as you hope, but often there is another option or a different way of looking at things.
• Take a few deep breaths, relax, and look for the silver lining.
It’s possible to find something positive in almost every situation.
5. Re-evaluate and make changes if necessary. Sometimes when we experience disappointments, it may be a sign that we need to re-examine our priorities or expectations. Depending on the degree of disappointment you’re facing, you may need to make minor or major changes to your life.
• Learn to be flexible.
Refocusing your attention on your new goals and on what is really important to you will help you manage or avoid future disappointments.
Above all, don’t become discouraged and don’t give up
All successful people have had to learn to deal with setbacks and disappointments somewhere along their journey. However rather than giving up they learn from their failures and disappointments and go on to achieve their goals.
You must not allow disappointment to lower your self-confidence. That’s not to say that you need to gloss over your feelings, but learning how to deal with your disappointments effectively will allow you to learn and grow, and then you will be better placed to move on to bigger and better things.