How to deal with disappointments
“I can’t believe I fell for your crap again!” she cries.
“What are you on about! Like seriously, you need to see a therapist or something, you psycho!” He barks.
“You promised that you would be here for me, yet I was alone. I was alone and scared and once again, you were nowhere to be found!”
Let’s face it. We would all love for our lives to be smooth sailing. Nobody likes having their heart broken, their dreams crushed or left feel let down. There will always be things that won’t go our way or what we hoped for.
There will come a time where we will be let down by people or failed opportunities. It’s inevitable that we will face disappointments.
Being faced with disappointments is not a bad thing, how we deal with these disappointments determines our ultimate happiness.
What are disappointments
Let’s understand what disappointments are and where this feeling stems from.
Disappointment is an immediate emotional response after a perceived failure.
This primary emotion, disappointment, can manifest itself in many ways. We get angry, hurt, upset, indifferent, despondent or a combination or these emotions.
At this point, it’s somewhat obvious that disappointments can lead to crappy emotions, so let’s dig deeper to understand why we really get disappointed.
Disappointments occur when an expectation has not been met. Expectations stem from our beliefs. Our beliefs stem from our needs. This may seem confusing now, so let’s use an example to elaborate further.
Wesley longs to feel loved, to feel wanted.
He finally meets the girl of his dreams and after two weeks, they chat like they’ve known each other for ages. He experiences sensations he forgot existed – after all, he has been single for two years now. This new girl relieves his need to feel loved, to feel wanted.
Two days later, she phones him and breaks it off. She tells him that she is still madly in love with her ex and that she’s not ready for another relationship.
A wave of disappointment rushes over him because she could not fulfill his need to feel loved. She could not fix his problem of loneliness.
In the above example, we saw poor Wesley falling madly in love with a girl, a girl that he hoped would fix his problem, his need. When she could not fix it, it led him to disappointment and all the other negative emotions that followed.
On a deeper level, disappointment reflects our passion towards something. Quickly take some time to think about it. If you didn’t care about something then there would be no disappointments. The greater your disappointment, the more passionate you would be. So already, we’re seeing the good in disappointments. Our Disappointments can help show us what we’re really passionate about.
Now that we have an understanding of what disappointments are and where they stem from, let’s see how these disappointments affect us and how many of us deal with our disappointments.
What happens when we are disappointed
When faced with disappointments, our perception of the world can become skewed. We feel negative, down or outright despondent. We fail to see all good around us and focus on the bad life has to offer.
If we let it, disappointment can lead us down a horrible road of depression.
Wesley is a recovering alcoholic. He’s managed to stay clean of all substances for over a year now. This relationship, something he has been longing for over a year, would have been one of his gifts of recovery from the universe. This is what he believed when he first entered recovery.
After she left him for her horrible ex, he decided to numb himself and picked up that first glass of beer again.
Had Wesley gone into this new relationship understanding that even though he had a need, people make their own choices and that he will have to be okay with whatever choice she makes, both seen and unforeseen, his disappointment would be much less. His disappointment arose from his expectation of her.
We will go into expectations soon enough, for now, let’s go through some of the things people do when faced with disappointment.
Many people will resort to avoidance by numbing themselves with different activities. This would vary from person to person. Some may start gaming excessively. Others may resort to alcohol, drugs or other addictive behaviors to try numb themselves.
It doesn’t matter what avoidance/numbing method is used; none of these activities will resolve the issue. These methods will provide a temporary uplift, but the undealt with problem remains and undealt with problems become harder to manage over time.
- Pretend their needs don’t exist
Some people block out their needs and pretend as though it doesn’t exist. As time goes on, Wesley believes that his inner need for affection doesn’t exist, that he is content being alone. He develops barriers around love making it hard for anyone else to stand a chance. Deep down, he holds onto a resentment that denies him of any happiness in the future.
- Give up on their dreams and goals
You may have found something that you’re passionate about, only to have to blow in your face. You weren’t able to achieve the results you desperately hoped for. As a result, you give up on your dreams. You convince yourself that it was pointless and stupid to even think about it. While you might have made a conscious decision to give up on your dreams, your subconscious cannot be fooled so easily. It knows your inner desires, your inner passion. It knows that you want nothing more than to be a great writer, that world famous soccer player or an owner of your own successful business.
# Quick reality check – When you deny your dreams, your goals, your deepest needs and desires, you live an empty life – a life with no meaning or purpose.
Avoiding disappointments is bad because these little disappointments give us experience required to solve little setbacks. When learning to overcome these setbacks, they become valuable tools when we faced with more difficult, complex problems.
Optimist vs Pessimist vs Perfectionist
Optimism is very rewarding, it allows you to feel wonderful and stay happy even though the end result isn’t clear. The optimist maintains a positive attitude and strives to remain positive through all times. They are the dreamers, the people that are hopeful.
While those that are optimistic have their reasons for choosing to see the world in a positive light, they face even more disappointments than the pessimist. Because they dare to dream, opportunities for Disappointment are more prevalent. There is only so much crushing blows this person can handle before they feel defeated
The pessimist faces Disappointment a lot less than the optimist. If you expect the worst from someone, it’s hard to get disappointed.
This being said that does not mean that it’s better to be pessimistic rather than optimistic to prevent disappointments. Even though the pessimist may seemingly be less disappointed, they are more likely to have a skewed perception of reality. Pessimists see negative events as permanent and ultimately, this eats away at their happiness.
Contrary to what many people may think, perfectionism is not a good thing. The Perfectionist lives in a constant state of anxiety. They always focus on what is wrong and as a result they obsess and never feel good enough. When it comes to disappointments, they are their own worst enemy.
We will go into more detail about the importance of understanding your character type at the end of this post when learning to deal with disappointments.
Why Disappointments are good for you
While there’s a lot of negatives, let’s focus on the positives of having to deal with expectations.
- Disappointments teaches us to manage our expectations
Often we have expectations of others, of ourselves. When these expectations fall short, we feel disappointed. Disappointments allows us to redefine our expectations and to make them more reasonable and realistic.
- It teaches us a lot about ourselves
It can teach you what pushes your buttons. It teaches us what makes us tick, what makes us sad, what hurts us and what makes us angry. They also show us how we handle hurt, rejection, frustration and anger. Understanding these underlying issues is the core to dealing with our problems.
- It shows you what really matters to you
Remember, the greater the Disappointment, the more passionate we are about something.
- It can motivate us to try harder
The difference between an average salesman and a great salesman is that the great salesman does not give up, even after being faced with endless rejection and Disappointment. They persevere and find news ways of making their sales until they succeed.
- It teaches us to know when to stop pursuing something
Pursuing something does not necessarily mean that you will get it. Unfortunately, some things are not meant to be. Disappointments can help us identify which of these things we should stop pursuing. When we stop pursuing these things, it leaves us with more energy for other possibilities that can open new doors.
Disappointment is a trouble shooting tool which lets us discuss our perception of reality. While the feeling of Disappointment is negative, it is always a better emotional state than apathy or indifference. The ability to feel makes us human.
How to deal with Disappointments
While being disappointed is completely normal and healthy, too much disappointment is bad.
The more we face disappointment, the more unhappy, unmotivated and stressed we become. Being faced with constant disappointed in ourself will affect our self esteem. Being constantly disappointed with certain aspects of our relationships will affect the relationship. In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons that people get divorced.
It is therefore crucial that we learn to deal with our Disappointments in a positive manner and reduce our disappointments in the future.
Before we move on to dealing with expectations, let’s quickly revisit the importance of understanding our personality type.
Understanding our personality type helps us identify which areas concern us and what we need to remain cognisant of when working through our disappointments.
The optimist sees disappointments as temporary, but because they are big dreamers and live on hope, it is crucial for them to adjust their expectations. Their expectations need to be more realistic to help prevent disappointment.
The pessimist sees disappointments as permanent. They need to continually remind themselves that disappointments and setbacks are only temporary. They also need to look at each problem as an isolated and specific event, rather than adding to their already existing problems, which creates the perception that the world is a bad place.
The perfectionist believes that life is perfect and in return, they should be perfect. They create unrealistic expectations that are deemed to fail, leading to disappointment. The Perfectionist would have to dig deeper to understand their need to always have things perfect. Perfectionism doesn’t just happen. It’s often a result of a false belief that nothing they do is good enough.
Once we’ve identified our personality types and know what areas to focus on most, we can begin to address our disappointment.
Whenever we face disappointments, we are in a state of sadness, fear, grief or apathy. When we are in this state, our thinking is flawed. We can’t think clearly and logically.z
The first Step 1 is to clear this negative state of being and aim for a more neutral and positive state. Try finding positive activities that can help you recharge. Do something that makes you feel better.
This may even be spending alone time or finding positive activities that will help you feel better or a combination of both.
It’s crucial to manage your emotions. Try your hardest not to make any big decisions while being in this emotional state.
The second step is to self reflect. Once we’re in a more positive state, we need to self reflect. This will help us understand where we went wrong, what really hurt or upset us and what we can do to manage our expectations better in the future.
The ability to self reflect is the essence of good mental health.
1) Become of aware of your expectations.
What are the expectations you are creating?
Disappointments results from our expectations not being met. Sometimes these expectations are clear and obvious. More often though, we find that we are disappointed because of unspoken expectations. These are expectations we expect people to fulfill, without voicing that these are what we’re expecting or hoping for.
2) Understand your beliefs behind the expectation.
Understand what needs drive these expectations why it is important to you to have these expectations met.
Do your expectations need to be voiced?
Do your expectations need to be adjusted?
Are these expectations unrealistic or unreasonable?
Is there other ways that your needs could be met?
After self reflecting, it’s time to take all that information and turn it into something positive. Use this time to come up with a plan to move forward. This step is really important, because if left un dealt with, the disappointment could turn into resentment. Taking all the answers from Step 2, use this to draft a plan going forward to reduce your disappointments and manage our expectations better.
We all make mistakes, what really counts is that we learn from these mistakes. We have to allow ourselves time to heal, this is not an overnight process.
Once we have practiced the art of acceptance and sought help if needed, we make new plans and open ourselves up to new opportunities. This is how we learn and grow from our disappointments.
Finally, as hard as it may be, don’t tell people about what “might happen.” Share your joy and success after it happens.
In conclusion, disappointments are normal. They can be very hurtful, numbing and painful, but when channelled correctly, they can be incredible tools for growth.
I would love to hear your experience with Disappointments, how you handled it and how you’ve learned from it in the comments section below.
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