Disappointment is something we all dread. Think about that sinking feeling you get when your good friend doesn’t respond to your message. Or maybe you were with a group of friends who rejected what you thought was a really good suggestion. Or what would you say when you thought you were about to get a job offer and instead the potential employer ghosted you?
Ouch. Disappointment can range from minor to major and can occur daily or less frequently. One thing is certain: disappointment leads to feeling deflated because our needs and expectations are not being met. And if disappointment accumulates, it can certainly lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety.
Let’s review some healthy ways to deal with disappointment so that you feel better equipped to deal with it in the future.
- Assess your expectations. You may have a role to play in preparing to be disappointed. (I’m not trying to make you worse, please listen to me!) Maybe you’re expecting too much of others. Everyone has their limits and does things at a pace that suits them. Expecting someone to immediately respond to your message may disappoint you if that person is extremely busy or doesn’t prioritize interpersonal relationships in the same way. Likewise, your partner may not have the skills to know what you need emotionally. The list of possible scenarios is endless. Lowering your expectations can avoid frequent disappointments.
- Try not to internalize negative feelings. Of course, we all get upset after being disappointed. That doesn’t mean we have to start devaluing ourselves and engaging in negative self-talk and blaming ourselves. Remember to have compassion for yourself. Things don’t always work out ideally. It doesn’t mean that you are an unworthy and horrible person; it means that something in the interaction didn’t go exactly as planned.
- Participate in self-soothing activities. Yes, you may have been left out and fired. No, you may not have been treated in a way that pleased you. The day should and must go on. Think about what helps you comfort yourself. Consider calling a friend who is good at making you feel better and can help you put things into perspective. Or make plans to do something that constantly makes you happy. We all benefit from having things to look forward to, don’t we?
- Try to find the lesson in disappointment. Think about the situation and why it may have gone wrong. Does your partner know what you need? Should you be more clear about your needs? Are you calling the wrong person? We learn not only about ourselves but about others from how we react to each other.
- Are there certain relationships that no longer serve you? If a relationship is more disappointing than anything else, you may want to re-evaluate that relationship’s role and status in your life. After a while, a relationship can become more frustrating than anything else. You may or may not be able to talk it over with your friend, colleague, partner, or even a neighbor. If not, maybe less contact is the way to go.