Disappointment. It’s an emotion we all experience from time to time. It can range from slight to severe and it’s often unavoidable. If you’ve ever been in the job market for ‘some time’ you will probably have suffered the disappointment of not getting an interview, or the job itself. Sometimes our disappointment is directly linked to our greatest desires, like wanting to have our baby, or forming a lasting relationship. We often feel disappointed by the people closest to us in our lives, and sometimes we feel disappointed by people we have not even met (Lance, I am looking at you!). And as parents, we often feel it on behalf of our children – and this disappointment can be particularly hard to swallow.
Disappointment takes many shapes and forms. Often these setbacks are temporary and you get over them quickly by pouring an extra large glass of wine with dinner or transforming your anger into humour. The more crushing blows are the ones where you’ve invested time, effort or emotion in something or someone that doesn’t deliver. Some people respond better to disappointment and can recover quickly, others tend to dwell in frustration or blame and this is not helpful.
Recently, I experienced a disappointment that I found hard to shake. It got me thinking about better ways to respond to disappointment. Here are five ways to manage disappointment in an effective way:
1. Examine the source
Ask yourself why is this so upsetting? Is there anything else in the background compounding it? I often find that I need to ask more of myself about why I feel disappointment about something, rather than just feeling it. This way I can see if it was something I had any control over or not. Some disappointments are actually predictable and preventable. Others are totally unavoidable. It is important to differentiate between the two so that you can respond appropriately.
2. Let go of it quickly
The longer you hold onto disappointment, the more it will tighten its grip on you. Release it quickly and you will benefit from the experience. Don’t dwell. Dwelling does not change the person or situation. Don’t let disappointment defeat you. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, but once you’ve acknowledged the disappointment, distance yourself from it.
3. Readjust your expectations
Avoid the full weight of disappointment by readjusting your expectations. I read once that “Disappointment is an expectation in construction”. This expression resonated with me as I feel that I often “rehearse” outcomes in my head and as such I get terribly disappointed if the reality doesn’t match my fantasy!
4. Tell someone
Sharing your feelings will also help to alleviate it. It’s that simple.
5. Be gentle on yourself
Anger, which may be your primary emotion, is often a reaction to hurt. Be kind to yourself. Do something that makes you happy – whatever that may be.
Disappointment can’t be avoided but we do have control over how we manage it. It’s how we respond to disappointment that can have beneficial outcomes like building character and strength. By responding well to disappointment in our own lives, we also teach our children important attributes like determination and resilience. We know that our children develop behaviors through observing and imitating us in day-to-day life. And learning to face disappointment is an important life skill to learn.
They say, we teach that which we most need to learn. And that’s my motivation for penning this post.
How do you feel you deal with disappointment? Is there anything that works for you? Please leave a comment below.