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Recently I asked the subscribers of my weekly email, Destroying the BS, to give me their advice on coping with disappointment.
A big “thank you!” goes out to everyone who shared their suggestions with me and allowed me to share them with you.
Disappointment is a tough one. My best advice (in almost everything) is to look at it from a place of gratitude. Now, I know its not an easy place to get to when disappointment visits, but just in the moment, think of something that has come about since that disappointment, anything….like a hug from a loved one, or a pat on the back or shoulder, or maybe the whole experience allowed you to meet someone new, or experience something new, ask yourself, “how has this experience allowed me to grow?”. Start with something small, like “thank for for the opportunity”. It really is done best writing it out, but even just some quiet reflecting time (if you don’t like to write) in a place of gratitude. I promise, when you are in a place of gratitude, everything changes.
Avoiding disappointment is simply framing realistic expectations for me… I try at the onset of an exciting opportunity to temper my enthusiasm with the question – what will happen if this doesn’t occur?
For example, I planned a surprise wedding… for my groom. All our friends knew what was happening, but he did not. When someone asked me, what if he says no – I said, well, I’ll look great and we’ll have a lovely dinner with our best friends around us. I knew I would still love him, and he would love me. The downside would only be that my surprise plan wouldn’t work. The good news is that he was thrilled and said yes. Now it makes for a great story and we enjoy a wonderful life together.
Life is full of disappointments, at work, in relationships… the trick is to understand that the disappointment isn’t about the other person or the situation itself, it’s about how I am looking at it.
I believe the universe gives us what we need… maybe the timing wasn’t right for the opportunity. You never know what is around the corner – perhaps something better awaits.
Most importantly process the emotion, whether it be angry sad, emotional.
What usually works for me is, I will talk it out with someone I’m comfortable with and trust.
Or I simply cry it out….or keep myself busy until I have time to process what just happened depending on the circumstance at that time.
Normally, I try to quiet my brain, by taking a relaxing bath, yoga, meditate, gardening, or my suggestion is simply whatever you do to think quietly.
I would look for the lesson in the disappointment, would the lesson be never do that again or I will try another approach if there’s a next time, or justify why I was disappointed, then I would look at for a positive in the disappointment, here are some examples …. it could have been worse for whatever reason, my heart is still beating, there are worst things in life, or whatever feels positive and you feel better about the emotion you have just processed.
I often say “onward and forward”, it is the past now, I can’t change what has happen,
Then I would add it to my list of experiences.
Practicing gratitude changes perspective. We view our experiences through a different lens. An empowering lens.
You may wish to ask: What are my take-aways from this occurrence that I may employ moving forward? What other opportunities can I create &/or are available to me? Will this disappointment matter in a month, a year or more from now? What can I do to inspire another?
Whenever I was having a bad day or disappointed as a child my mom would always ask “What are three things you’re grateful for?” It was annoying at the time (lol) but forced me to shift mentally and have some perspective.
Now as an adult I still do a version of that. I use a great daily tool called “The Five Minute Journal” that helps (of course, mom recommended it; you can buy it but they also have the whole PDF online for free – check it out!). In the morning you write three things you’re greatful for, an affirmation and three things that would make the day awesome. In the evening it asks what was awesome about the day and what you can do to make it better. You write the responses in an active voice. It’s a great tool for perspective, reflecting and moving on (because you always have to turn the page and start fresh the next day).
So…since yesterday is over: what are you grateful for today? What will make the day awesome? What’s your affirmation (Feel free to rip this Churchill quote if you can’t think of one: I realized that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it’s the courage to continue that counts”)?
Whatever you choose to focus on will expand.
I usually feel sad when I experience disappointment…getting my hopes up then they’re cruelly dashed against a harsh reality, lol, so I’m also learning how to deal with it, too.
I also try to remind myself that the sun will rise and the sun will set EVERY day…the birds are gonna sing and all nature will go about its business and so must I. I like this definition of life: “Life is the continual process of getting used to things you never expected.” and another saying I learned from a former boyfriend I use a lot is: “Some days peanuts; some days shells and today was a shell of a day!”
And the most important thing to remember is that you are loved and you love!!
Disappointment is a powerless energy, don’t let it take over you cause it could bring you frustrations and anger, when feeling disappointed, shift your energy on a more constructive way on dealing with your frustrations, first of all
LET GO OF THE SITUATION and CREATE POSITIVE THOUGHTS to help you SHIFT YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS and then TAKE ACTION in the specific area your feeling.
POSITIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE THINKING IS A GREAT WAY TO DEAL WITH DISAPPOINTMENT:-)
As a general rule I use two tools to deal with disappointment.
In cases where the disappointment was, in hindsight, inevitable, I tend to become stoic about it. Just roll with the punches and move on.
When the disappointment-failure reaches catastrophic levels, then there is only one thing to do: come out fighting. Give it your all and if you have to go down, go down swinging.
So, to sum up, I’d leave you with the old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. You have to look inside to find out if you are indeed tough. Only you can answer that.
I tell myself that there is a reason why it didn’t happen and that, at a later date, I will connect the dots that will explain why the event happened like it did. In most cases, it turned out that it was to my advantage that what I wanted at the time didn’t pan out.
Knowing that that is right and what is meant for you. Experience what may come from it, whether it’s sadness, relief, anger, resentment or other, and let it rest with you. This passing of thought and feeling if observed, will allow you to do what you are supposed to do. That truth is already in your heart if you simply give it mindfulness.
My tips are mainly talking myself into accepting the disappointments by affirming quotes I’ve picked up over the years from wise folk.
I tell myself that:
- everything happens for a reason
- what is for you won’t go by you
- if it’s meant to be it will be
- when one door closes, another opens
- my time will come
- all is well (mantra from Louise Hay)
- everything is exactly as it should be
When I really am upset about the disappointment, I write all my fears and pain surrounding the event to try to let it all out, in hope of letting it go.
I try to breathe into it and accept that I did my best even if my best wasn’t good enough on that day etc. and forgive myself or others if need be.
I try to keep things in perspective. X may have happened but I still have my health, my family, a job, my home, etc. That usually helps me focus on all the great things I have in my life
When I feel disappointed because the outcome wasn’t as I planned or hoped, I become quiet and ask the questions necessary to bring me clarity. For example, a typical dialogue with the divine goes as follows:
“Okay, so that didn’t go as I planned. What is it that I need to learn from this? What are you trying to show me? I do know that this was not for me because if it was it would have been. So that means what is for me is in the works.”
And then I let go and trust in the process. I may not understand it, but I trust it. And always, a fresher perspective emerges within days or sometimes even moments. And I am reminded again and again that there is a much much larger picture than what I can see with my small mind, when I am frustrated with my disappointment. Grace is restored once again.
Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you – share your thoughts in the comments section.