Dealing with Disappointment

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Dealing with Disappointment

Dealing with disappointment is a fact of life, it is just how we deal with it that makes a difference between a passing storm cloud over a sunny sky, and a persistent grey fog.

In dealing with disappointment, it helps to put things in perspective. Many of the things that we can allow to upset our equilibrium are really very minor. Stop and think about it, rather than letting a reaction of frustration take hold. You will often realize that the things which can easily ruin your day if left unexamined, are really very unimportant.

In the scheme of things, not being able to get your favorite bread from the bakery is really not worth spoiling your whole lunch break, let alone your entire day. In this instance, a moment of allowing the disappointment to be felt with a mental or verbal ‘darn, I really wanted that bread today,’ is a healthy reaction. After that moment though, rather than allowing a mood of ‘everything is wrong’ to take over, decide that you are finished with being disappointed, and you are ready to think about what’s next, rather than continue to be affected by what didn’t happen.

Of course there are big disappointments in life too, but it is often the small ones, left unexamined, and allowed to simmer, that can create a grey fog of dissatisfaction over our days. The very act of noticing what has triggered our feelings of disappointment, and consciously deciding how much of a reaction this event really deserves, can stop our thoughts and feelings running from away with us, and blowing things out of all proportion.

If you are in the habit of letting something like a broken nail spoil an otherwise lovely evening, then you are probably not dealing with disappointment at all, but letting it control you instead.

The same principle can also apply in dealing with the big disappointments. Missing out on a job, a potential relationship, a promotion, or a house that you really wanted can be a huge blow. In dealing with disappointment on this (or in fact any) scale, it is important to allow yourself to be disappointed. And with a large scale setback, the level of disappointment that you feel is likely to be justifiably high. As with any human emotion, allowing yourself to truly feel your disappointment, understand it, and express it is a key to being able, at some point, to move beyond it.

When dealing with disappointment on a major level, we need to find a way of expressing and venting the emotions that have been triggered. We may feel fear that we are never going to get what we really want, sadness at our perceived loss, and anger and frustration that we haven’t been able to control the outcome of a situation in the way we hoped. Venting these feelings can be done in a variety of ways, but often the most effective include pouring the feelings out in words. This can be done by writing about them in a journal, talking to a supportive person, ranting and raving aloud to yourself, or all of the above. Other effective methods of venting frustration and disappointment include physical exercise, tackling some physical labor, or having a good cry.

Once the feelings have been allowed to be felt and heard, it is then much easier to evaluate the situation from a place of clarity. We can then get back to the other aspect of dealing with disappointment, which is putting things in perspective. If you try and tell yourself that there will be other jobs, relationships, or houses before you have allowed yourself to feel and express the disappointment fully, you will only be masking your feelings. Feel the feelings first, and then when you are ready, get back to the facts.

Even with the biggest disappointments in life, it is possible, and important to put them in perspective when you are able to do so. Rather than continuing to stay in the place of disappointment indefinitely, make a conscious choice that you have had enough of being disappointed. Decide that you are ready to focus on other areas of your life, and/or ‘get back on the horse’ in the area of your disappointment.

Getting straight back on the horse may not be something you are ready to do right away in the case of a tough fall, but at least keep your mind and heart open to doing so as soon as you can. Getting hurt and disappointed is often part of creating a wonderful life, just as it can be part of learning to ride a horse, but the alternative is sitting on the sidelines and missing the exhilaration and fun of the ride.

And you know what? Sitting on the sidelines doesn’t even guarantee you won’t get hurt. There are always mishaps that can befall even the most passive spectator in life, but surely the biggest risk is that you are missing out on truly living your life, and just watching it pass by because of fear.

So what if you get hurt? The human body and spirit have an amazing ability to heal, and pain and disappointment are things we will all experience. This doesn’t mean you should be reckless, but just that life is going to contain disappointment, whether you are an active participant or not. And if you are going to get the pain anyway, you might as well get the pleasure too.

Learning good ways of dealing with disappointment helps in negotiating the ups and downs, thrills and spills that accompany our journey through life. By all means, put on a crash helmet, knee pads, and have some soft places to fall onto, but don’t let disappointments stop you from truly enjoying the most wonderful ride of all – the ride of a life fully lived.

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Releasing Expectations Frees Us to Enjoy Life

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