5 Tips for Overcoming Disappointment

There can be hope in temporary setbacks.

Disappointments can be crushing to self-esteem, leaving us feeling sad, regretful, dismayed or sorrowful. Those feelings can emerge from any number of factors, be it the recent slew of natural disasters or the country’s political climate. When this happens, we may feel paralyzed by our circumstances and focus on feelings of loss, not dissimilar to mourning.

The mourning process—be it over the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship—is essential. Those who don’t mourn may feel stuck and subsequently express emotions in unhealthy and destructive ways. They may become more conflict prone, easily angered or frustrated, feel depressed or anxious, and may consume more alcohol or other substances to self-medicate.

When this happens, be wary of generalizing disappointment, as it can lead to a cycle of self-sabotage. Those suffering from depression or anxiety during this time may inadvertently do this.

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After the mourning process, feelings of hope tend to emerge, giving us new perspectives, helping us with emotional growth and strengthening relationships. It’s important to remember that allowing yourself to experience the pain of disappointment and expressing feelings about it will lead to greater degrees of resiliency.

Here are five tips for dealing with disappointment:

  1. Acknowledge you are disappointed. For many, simply stating they are disappointed can be painful and feel like failure. Keep in mind disappointments are a normal part of life.
  2. Tune into your feelings. Feelings of sadness, regret and loss are associated with disappointment. Acknowledging your feelings means you’re taking your circumstances seriously and you’re open to learning from your disappointments.
  3. Don’t avoid your emotions. It’s normal to want to avoid feeling painful emotions by self-medicating. Shutting down the mourning process stunts emotional growth and ability to cultivate hope.
  4. Be patient. Give yourself time to process feelings of loss triggered by disappointments. As with any physical trauma, injured emotions take time to heal.
  5. Take the time to figure out what went wrong. After grieving, take the time to figure out what may have gone wrong and to determine what was and wasn’t in your control. Examine your expectations and goals and apply what you’ve learned to future situations. 

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