“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown
For many and various reasons we all get disappointed from time-to-time. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion at work you thought you were going to get for sure? A friend let you down when you thought they most assuredly would never do? You received criticism of some sort? Your child acted in a manner that you taught them never to do? Maybe your crush, overlooked you to ask someone else out? You did something you swore never to do just so you would fit in and be accepted? Do any of these examples resonate with a disappointment you’ve recently experienced?
Unfortunately, disappointment is part of life and we cannot shield ourselves from experiencing it. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I hope I do not get disappointed,” after committing to doing something you were unsure of but did it anyway? It would be nice if we could set our “Internal-Disappointment-Setting” to — “Off.” I’m sure there are a million examples of reasons why we all have felt or become disappointed at one time or another. The most important thing is that we try to overcome it without getting so down on ourselves that we allow the disappointment to overtake our outlook on ourselves, our circumstances and our lives.
Hurt inevitably becomes part of disappointment and we tend to let the hurt and disappointment take over our thinking process and depending on each of our individual personalities, we can allow those hurt feelings to turn into a range of feelings such as: anger and lashing out at those we love the most or we can withdrawal and become incredibly sad and depressed and start feeling sorry for ourselves; thus allowing the hurt to take over. Of course there are a whole list of “in-between’s” we can feel as well but anger and depression are among the most common range of emotions.
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.’” ~Joel Osteen
Here are some proactive steps on how to bounce back from disappointment:
1. Not everyone lives by our “Self-Made Rules.”
This is my favorite of all the proactive steps and why I consider it number one because it brings perspective to our ego that life doesn’t run according to the way we expect things to. I don’t mean this in a negative, unforgiving way. It’s a more positive way of allowing our minds to release any “Expectations” we hold onto and recognize its okay that things do not work out sometimes the way we expect them to. It is even better to start conditioning our minds and ego that life is not meant to run in an “expected” way. This takes the pressure off any demands we set on ourselves and others. In addition, it allows us to be and live more in the present moment instead of looking at things in a past or future mind-set or through a “Should Be” outlook. In other words, let’s try to let go of any expectations or self-made rules we create and just enjoy the process of life. Life is meant to be enjoyed by all that we experience (including the perceived bad), not just by what we “expect” by our own self-made standards.
2. Find the value in your “Perceived Failure.”
I say “perceived failure” because it’s only a failure if you perceive it as one. For example, if you’re looking for a job and you don’t ace an interview, you could either decide that you failed at the interview or that you succeeded in learning something to help you in the next one. As the Dalai Lama said, “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” Failure is the mother of all success. In other words, failure is not failure at all; instead it’s a success because you recognized and learned (which is part of the growing process of life).
Bouncing back from a disappointment and continuing to move forward on the path that makes you happy is what matters most. The greatest achievement in life is the choice to be empowered, not paralyzed by a disappointment. There is no greater success than the ability to take responsibility for your joy instead of responsibility for your disappointment.
3. Stay realistic.
It’s easy to give into our disappointment and feel sorry for ourselves and not look at things realistically. However, Don’t Do That, stay realistic. For example, you might have been let down by a friend — walk yourself through it logically instead of emotionally. In other words, ask yourself realistic questions as if it were a neutral person talking to you (not you) — like someone else giving you a pep talk. Did your friend let you down on purpose? Was it intentional? Did they know your feelings before doing what they did? What is the worst that can come from this situation?…Look at it as a learning opportunity no matter what the disappointment is and stay realistic in your thoughts. Don’t let your ego sway you into self-pity and negative thinking. Try to remain neutral and look at the disappointment realistically, even put yourself in the shoes of your friend and try to see their side. However, if you choose to stay in a mind-set of “poor me” then you are the only one holding yourself back from healing and moving forward in letting the disappointment go. Staying logical and realistic about the situation puts you in the driver seat in assessing the situation clearly and not emotionally.
4. Accept that it isn’t always personal.
As Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” In other words, as much as we’d like to flatter ourselves that other people adjust their lives for us, it’s just not so. For example, criticizing — think of why you would criticize someone? Others are no different, they criticize because they are living by their own standards in which they abide by their own self-made rules. Therefore, we are criticized because in some way we are not in alignment with (the one who criticized us) their “rules.” Therefore, we shouldn’t take it personal. Sometimes there are things beyond our control that have nothing to do with what we did or didn’t do. This may be the reason why a lot of people do not follow what is in their heart and instead try to live by other people’s expectations — trying to fit in to avoid judgment.
If you are trying to interview for a job in a tough economy and are competing with those with more experience as well as industry veterans in a particular field; your disappointment may have a lot to do with who you were competing against, not because of you. Again, it’s not personal.
We can always find room for improvement, but sometimes we need to accept that results aren’t always reciprocal to our efforts or because of who we are. However, we always need to keep a positive mind-set of moving forward regardless of our odds in a job interview or who we come across that may criticize us etc.
5. Let it out and let it go.
One of the most common ways we cope is to sometimes unknowingly hold onto the disappointment. One of the hardest things to do is to allow yourself to experience what you are feeling instead of suppressing it, trying to ignore it. Let your feelings out instead of holding them in. A constructive way of doing this would be your creative outlet: sports, painting, sculpting, cooking, designing, writing etc.
Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling without any agenda by your own standard or standard of others. Just be present in your feelings and gently remind yourself its okay to feel how you feel and gradually work through letting them go. Don’t set unrealistic expectations such as: I have to get over this by tomorrow or because I am a male, I am not supposed to express or have feelings (who says?) Be present in your feelings by recognizing them but also be willing to release them and move on.
6. Practice acceptance.
As human beings, we are not always willing to accept that some things are bound to happen outside our comfort zone.
Don’t get overwhelmed by your emotions and get even more disappointed on top of the first disappointment. This will incline you to withdraw and blame others and wallow in your disappointment. Keep perspective that you will meet a disappointment again at some point and this is good practice to start learning acceptance.
Accept that you will be disappointed again—that is part of life, part of being human.
Accepting disappointment and dealing with it as you encounter them will make each additional disappointment less of a challenge and potentially less difficult to a degree. The disappointment will always pass in time so just accept it and deal with it head on.
Practice acceptance and we may suffer less as it is happening and notice the good things in life more.
Disappointment is a part of life, but all parts of life can help us grow. We can be present and aware even in the midst of negative emotions and therefore live life more fully and less guarded.