Disappointments are an unavoidable part of life and can be often overwhelming to deal with. They can range from minor frustrations, to some life-changing events. Perhaps you missed a new career opportunity, or may be someone you trusted let you down, Or a certain outcome at work didn’t match up to your expectation. No matter what the situation may be, disappointments have high influence on the way we react and in the actions we take.
Some disappointments may not make much of a difference, but there are some that can make huge difference. The feelings of disappointment may last for a short while, or might hang over for long period of time depending on how we deal with them. If not dealt properly, they affect our behavioural, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being negatively.
Disappointments are inevitable; discouragement is a choice. —Charles StanleyTweet
Expectations to a larger extent are the root of all disappointments. We all have expectations like winning at something, or to succeed in something that we care deeply about and so on and so forth. Each time something falls short of our expectation, we tend to feel disappointed. In other words, when we experience disappointment, our hopes and expectations are out of line with reality.
Sometimes we do misjudge certain situations, and when things don’t turn out the way we do, we feel frustrated, sad, and discouraged. However, not getting what we want may not be the only reason for our disappointment. Because sometimes we become disappointed inspite of getting what we want. For instance, if you feel that your success is unjustified, or when you discover that what you wanted so badly didn’t bring the expected results.
When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment;—Ryan Reynolds
Your disappointments can sabotage your true potential
Some people seek to avoid disappointment by lowering their expectations, or distracting themselves by turning to certain random, mindless activities instead of facing the problems head on. They resort to the fact that the best strategy for anything is not to raise their expectations and avoid risks. This culminates into mediocrity where they fail to discover their true potential.
Furthermore, overachieving or setting your expectations too high also doesn’t really save you from feeling disappointed. Although we all experience disappointments from time to time, getting caught up in disappointment for long, you lose the ability to concentrate and self sabotage your further efforts towards achieving your goals.
To cope with their disappointment, some people focus their anger inwards that results in self-blame and self deprecation. Others turn their anger outwardly which makes them feel bitter and vindictive. Disappointments further manifest into:
- Low self-esteem and feelings of not being good enough.
- Frequent mood changes, apathy, and depression.
- Tasks and mental to-do lists can nag at you and make feel discontented.
- Attributing past disappointments to your personal failings keeps you stuck.
- Feeling of failure and negative beliefs like, “nothing works”, “not good enough.
Sometimes when you get disappointed, it makes you stronger.
They help you to manage your expectations. When you feel disappointed, your expectations fall out of line with reality. By understanding the gap between your expectations and the reality, you can use them to correct your assumptions and adjust your expectations accordingly to achieve your goals.
They provide opportunity for growth. You can learn to deal with them in a positive manner and use them as opportunities to improve yourself. What you originally thought was sufficient to achieve your goal may not be enough and may need to increase your effort or change your approach to get the results you want.
They align you with your inner-self. Sometimes disappointments provide us with a better emotional state to get in touch with your inner self. By focusing on your underlying desire for your goal, rather than the external projection, you can create other possibilities to realise your desire.
“But you know that disappointment is just the action of your brain readjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were.”Brad Warner
How to manage your disappointments constructively
None of us are ever going to get to the place in life where we have no more disappointments. Disappointment is a fact of life that we must learn to deal with. Some people however work through their disappointments successfully, while others struggle to do so. Here are some ways to manage your disappointments effectively.
Know what is in your control
To deal with disappointments more constructively, know the difference between factors that fall with in your control and factors that are beyond. Allow yourself some time to reflect on what went wrong? Was it within your control? Or outside of your control? This in a way better equips you to redirect your focus onto things that can really make a difference.
The more you dwell on disappointment, the more it will hurt and disrupts your ability to focus, concentrate, solve or be creative. While it is okay to analyse the reasons, focusing more on the feelings can make them part of your identity. Give yourself a limited time to feel bad and move on. Instead of internalising, make an effort to consider whether there is something you could do differently next time.
Put it into perspective
Sometimes you might feel disappointed about things you are unlikely to remember in a month’s time. It is important to remember that every emotion, however significant is going to pass or fade with time. This happens regardless how upsetting they are at first. Be kind to yourself and validate your feelings. Distraction and focusing your attention on something meaningful can be a helpful coping strategy.
Reevaluate your perceptions
Attaching yourself to a certain outcome causes anguish and prevents you from putting effort in moving on. Become aware of false perceptions or unrealistic expectations you are clinging on to. Given what you know about yourself, you can work towards changing your perceptions. Checking whether your expectations are reasonable, whether they are too high or too low, helps you to set realistic goals.
Let go of victim mindset
Carrying an overly negative perspective on things and thinking like a victim makes you unwilling to accept and move on. If things don’t go as you expected, learn from them and be flexible enough to make adjustments moving forward. Asking yourself, Where can I make more effort next time around? What can I learn from this? How else could I improve? can help you to move forward.
Realign your focus
Don’t be too self-critical and don’t get pulled down by your thoughts. Indulging in self-pity and being hard on yourself only takes away your confidence. Look for positive activities and those that you most enjoy to recharge your consciousness to a positive level. Surround yourself with people who validate your feelings. This will help you gain some clarity and you can learn other perspectives which you may not be aware of.
Increase your possibilities
Do not limit yourself on a single goal and believe that it is the only way to make your dreams come true. There is always more than one reason why you are committed to a path. Increase your possibilities by creating other paths to realise your dreams. Remember that you are much more capable at focusing on the positive than you think.
Reframe them as learning experiences.
Next time, if you struggle to deal with your disappointments, try to reevaluate your expectations by asking yourself, What expectations do I have from my self? Which false perceptions am I getting hung up over? Could I have done something different to arrive at a desired outcome? With reframing, you can cultivate a capacity to deal with them more constructively and start again to pursue your dreams.
How often do you blame yourself when things don’t go as you expected?
Do you set your expectations too low to avoid disappointments?
What can you change about your emotions around disappointments— perception, expectations, behaviour, or actions?
What areas of your life can you benefit by not ruminating over your past disappointments?
What are some of your strategies to deal with your disappointments constructively starting from today?
Disappointments are inevitable part of life. Regardless of what your disappointments are, you can learn to respond healthily by seeking to understand what happened, adjusting your expectations, reevaluating your perceptions and reframing your negative thoughts. Remember that there is always a next opportunity regardless of what disappointed you. Live in alignment with your abilities and inner desire. When you lose, use it to learn, and then go on to win next time.
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