6 Tips for dealing with disappointment

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On December 22, 2022

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There’s no way around it, disappointment hurts. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Whether you were the one disappointed, or you had a setback or made a mistake and feel like you disappointed someone else. The feelings of sadness, loss, anger, and frustration can pull you down into a negative funk. And if you’re not careful, the inertia can continue to drag you down a faulty path. Taking the necessary steps to deal with disappointment in a healthy way will help turn an unfortunate experience into a learning experience and an opportunity for personal growth. Consider these six tips to help you deal with disappointment

1. Accept how you feel.

Acceptance does not mean liking, wanting, choosing, or supporting the “pain”. Disappointment hurts. And that’s okay. Don’t try to push it away. Allow it to be there when you can’t change it in that moment. Make space for it. Give yourself permission to be as you are, feel what you feel, or have experienced what you’ve experienced without creating unproductive shame or anxiety. Accepting how you feel in the moment helps with the healing process. If, on the other hand, you reject the feelings and try to hide or deny them, those emotions can fester, popping up at a later – and often inappropriate – time, and they can even affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

2. Remember, YOU are NOT a disappointment.

We all have good days and bad days, and we all make good choices and bad ones. It’s in our nature as humans to make mistakes. But it’s important to separate yourself from the action. The mistake happened and you can’t change the past. But every minute is an opportunity to change your outlook, your perspective, and your course moving forward. Something we tell our clients all the time is that one bad moment doesn’t undo a lifetime of being a good person. Your mistakes do not have to define you and your past does not need to determine your future. And holding on to negative emotions won’t help you grow into the person you need to be in order to succeed.

3. Choose to move forward.

As with any bad experience, you have two options. You can either live in the pain and negative emotions, which does nothing to better your situation, or you can choose to move forward. But you can’t do both. Simply ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What is one lesson I can learn from this? (And not “I learned that so-and-so is a jerk!” but a real lesson that you can take away from the experience).
  2. How can I adjust my course to avoid this situation in the future?

Maybe you recognize that you can try to communicate better the next time you’re in a similar situation, working with someone on a task or project. Or that you need to give yourself a better balance between rest and work to avoid mistakes or to think more clearly. But just the process of identifying a positive course of action to avoid a similar situation in the future, is moving forward!

4. Practice gratitude.

Did you know that the brain can’t think positive and negative thoughts at the same time? That’s why gratitude is an easy way to shift your focus and raise your energy levels. Think about the people and the passions you have in life, and even the things you sometimes take for granted, like a roof over your head, and clean water. Tapping into gratitude in this way will help put things into perspective and prevent a disappointment from overwhelming you.

5. Take a break.

The day-to-day grind that we often find ourselves in can cause a lot of stress and make you lose your perspective. So sometimes you just need a break to get over a disappointment. Take some time to rest up, recharge, and even do something nice for yourself. If you do this you’ll likely be in a better headspace to accept and learn from what happened and then move forward once again.

6. Find healthy distractions.

If you have a tendency to get stuck in your own head, mulling over a negative situation for too long, then seek out healthy distractions to help get you out of your own head. One simple example is to focus on someone else for a while. Help a friend plan for a party or a meeting at work. Help them move, redecorate, or even simply be fully for them and take interest in what they have going on in their life. Another option is to exercise. Lifting weights or going out for a long walk is a great way to focus outward once again, renew your energy, and sharpen your focus.

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