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How to Navigate Disappointment

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, MA, NCC, LPC

Everyone at least once in their lifetime will face disappointment from their family or friends. Although it is a common human emotion, avoiding disappointment can be impossible at times. The latter can even negatively affect one’s life and lead to mental distress. Therefore, it is necessary to learn to accept disappointment in order to minimize its potential emotional consequences. This article will share the top three techniques to help you navigate disappointment.

What Does It Mean to be Disappointed?

The dictionary definition of disappointment described disappointment as being defeated in hope or expectation. In simple words, disappointment is the negative emotion you feel when you do not achieve your desired outcome or do not get what you had expected others to give. Disappointment is often identified by feelings of loss, regret, irritation, and even rage. It can happen for multiple reasons including losing a job or friend, failing an exam, and getting a severe illness; However, disappointment can be due to minor life problems or significant events. Its origin also differs from person to person and their overall mindset. 

Three Ways to Navigate Disappointment

Navigating disappointment requires a positive mind shift to accept the reality of any stressful event. Following are the top three ways to manage disappointment:

Take Some Time to Process

Whenever something terrible or distressful happens, our brains can often be impulsive, jumping to conclusions without thinking about the event calmly or rationally. This can lead to greater feelings of disappointment. Therefore, it is crucial to give yourself time to reflect on and process the event from a more relaxed and objective space. Questions like these can help to keep your thinking more balanced and less black and white: Did the person/persons intend to hurt me or was no harm intended? Could I have done anything to prevent this or was it out of my control? Am I attempting to mind-read or assume that I know what the other person’s intentions were? 

Adjust Your Expectations

People who tend to have high expectations are most likely to suffer from disappointments. Thereby, it would help if you mended your expectations to feel less disappointed. The latter also encourages you to deal with negative emotions and quickly move on from distressing circumstances.  

Additionally, ignoring the feelings of disappointment by keeping them inside your head or not accepting it won’t work as a solution. Instead, it adds more distress to your life and disturbs your physical and mental wellbeing.

Therefore, you should navigate disappointment with a constructive approach to find a way out of this overwhelming situation.

Do Not Dwell on Your Disappointments

It is okay to process your disappointment or even to comprehend the trigger behind the feeling of disappointment; However, lingering for too long on hurtful or difficult experiences will not change them. Instead, it may even cause more distress. 

If you are having trouble letting go, distraction may help to shift your focus from the distressing situation onto something else that is more meaningful or positive. Reminding yourself about a good memory or even imagining yourself somewhere beautiful can help to mitigate the feeling of disappointment. Short self-talk, daily journaling, or repeating a mantra can also foster more positivity and gratitude.  

The Bottom Line

Navigating disappointment can feel overwhelming but seeing the situation more objectively and accepting the frustration is one of the best ways to manage it. Additionally, try to surround yourself with positive minds to avoid negative energy and emotions. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of disappointment, please reach out to Symmetry Counseling today to see how therapy in Chicago can help! Connect with a therapist today!

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