Dealing with disappointment

dealing with disappointment

We’ve all been there – likely recently. Something doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, or somebody doesn’t turn out to be who you thought they were, and you’re left with a crippling ball of anger, sadness and, most of all, disappointment in the pit of your stomach.  

Now, you can’t control every situation, nor can you stop people from acting badly or letting you down; you’re inevitably going to feel disappointed from time to time. But you don’t have to let it derail you from living a happy and successful life. 

And so, this month’s column isn’t about preventing ourselves from getting disappointed but instead learning how to take care of ourselves when those disappointments come our way.

First of all, we must acknowledge and allow our feelings. Being rejected, let down or betrayed can trigger so many negative emotions, from sadness to anxiety, to anger. It is important to acknowledge these feelings rather than trying to shove them down.

Putting your feelings into words, locating them in your body and figuring out why you feel let down can not only help to ground you, but also help you to overcome them, start afresh and find the right ways to make yourself more bankable in the future.

It is also important that we don’t give up and stew in passive resentment when you feel like you’ve been forgotten by the people whom you consider to be important. Sure, it really fucking hurts, but you can’t punish yourself because of the way people treat you.

Your time is worth being shared with people who deeply value it – and you! If someone cancelled on you for other plans or blew you off altogether, don’t sulk in pain. Instead, seek out the company of your other friends, your family, or even yourself.

There are times when speaking up is the best option. If you think it would be productive to speak up about your feelings of disappointment or betrayal then by all means do, but make sure you have considered the consequences of doing so first.

Is the person you want to speak to capable of really hearing what you have to say, to make amends or an apology, or will they just get defensive and counterattack? How can you approach the conversation mindfully, rather than with an angry reactivity that makes things worse? If you’re unsure, you may want to practice what you’re going to say.

If you’re repeatedly finding yourself feeling disappointed or betrayed, set yourself some boundaries. What are you willing to accept? What are you not willing to accept? How much effort are you willing to put into something or someone before you decide it’s better spent elsewhere?

Having boundaries can help you feel emotionally safe, and restore your self-worth and self-respect. Letting people know what the consequences will be if they cross those boundaries, and sticking to them, is also empowering AF.

I like to think that we should never have to adjust our expectations, but, realistically, we sometimes have to. Every time you’re disappointed with something or someone, consider evaluating your expectations of it or them.

Sometimes people are too busy for us. Sometimes things do pop up that can make them late. Be realistic with your expectations and you’re less likely to be disappointed, or, at the very least, feel better about it when you are.

It’s also important to avoid rehearsing the offense over and over in your mind. Doing this will only keep the offense imprisoned in your heart. Releasing your feelings is the only way to move on from hurting to healing.

Most of all, however, when people let you down, learn to be your own cheerleader and best friend. Be kind to yourself, learn from the experience and don’t let circumstances outside of your control get you down. You cannot choose the situation, but you can choose how to react to it

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