Managing Disappointment

When was the last time you anticipated life would go one way but instead it took an unexpected turn? In a moment, feelings of frustration, hurt, disappointment and anger can set in. Experiencing disappointment is a part of life but knowing how to handle it can be confusing. Here are some tips to get back in the saddle again.

Express Those Emotions

  • Give yourself space to feel all the emotions accompanying the unmet expectation. Are you angry? Sad? Frustrated? It is normal and feeling them helps free you to make a sound decision. Emotions can easily cloud good judgment and make small situations seem larger than they are. By allowing yourself to feel the spectrum of emotion, you give yourself the freedom to see the situation more clearly—to gain perspective.
  • Expressing emotion is also healthy. After a disappointment, there is a greater risk of physical or emotional difficulties or a combination of the two, partly because of mishandling emotions. It can be tempting to hold these feelings inside or project them onto others. Psychologist Dr. Michael Ashroth, explains that over time, being disappointed can even lead to chronic stress problems internally and with those around you. Do yourself a favor and let it out. Try journaling! Is your energy regained through people? Talking it over with someone you know who listens well is a great way to let go.

Don’t Dwell

  • Disappointment may require a bit of grieving time to handle the loss of unmet expectations but don’t stay there! Wallowing keeps you stuck and prevents you from taking steps toward success.  Not sure if you’re dwelling?  Notice how much time and energy you spend thinking about the situation or talking about it. Choosing to think through the situation over and over with little action can increase your anxiety. Instead, go out and do something constructive or fun. It will reenergize your mind to take action! Dwelling will keep you from accomplishing your goals moving forward.

Embrace It

  • Remember, in every situation you get to choose how to respond. Start by accepting the situation as it is. You do not have control over another person and you may not have control over some situations but you do have choices.  Make the choice to evaluate what you wanted from yourself, the situation and others. Try to see it as an opportunity for a new possibility. If this sort of disappointment has happened repeatedly, accept it and consider what could be changed to yield a different result. Seek other avenues to achieve your goals. It may be time to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk!

Disappointment is a normal part of life that everyone experiences. However, it does not have to have a negative effect. Use it as a stepping stone to achieve all you hope for!

  • References
    Ashroth, M. (2013). Dealing with disappointment. PsychCentral.
  • Lybi, M. (2004). Down but not out. PsychologyToday.

Contributed by

Angela Blocker , M.A, LMFT Associate

Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT, LPC

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